The majority of Americans will be sitting around watching football and feasting on turkey, gravy, stuffing, sides, pecan and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. So how can you avoid gaining weight this Thanksgiving?
1. Fill up on fibrous vegetables and lean protein first. Foods high in fiber tend to fill you up, so you’re less likely to overeat and stay satisfied longer. High-fiber vegetables like peas, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, yams and green beans are high fiber vegetables. When it comes to dark or white meat, which will you choose? Both dark and white meat have about the same caloric and fat content, with dark meat having more vitamins. Bottom line, you can’t go wrong with either one.
2. Substitute and reduce when you can. Many Thanksgiving recipes call for excessive amounts of heavy cream, sugar and butter. This year, try and substitute coconut milk for heavy cream and apple juice for sugar. Think about reducing the amount of butter you put into your sides. Did you know that sugar releases dopamine in your brain, making it highly addictive, and one tablespoon of butter has 102 calories and 12 grams of fat?
3. Don’t show up to the dinner table on an empty stomach. The aromas in a kitchen on Thanksgiving are heavenly. This once-a-year meal makes it so inviting to come to the dinner table on an empty stomach so that you can get the most out of the meal. But, remember the hungrier you are, the more likely you will overeat when you sit down. Blood sugar levels drop significantly when your stomach is empty, and might tempt you to grab less healthy foods. Fuel up throughout the day and portion control when you eat your Thanksgiving dinner.
4. Exercise before tryptophan sets in. Thanksgiving is a gluttonous holiday. As busy as you are, try and schedule time to exercise. When the bird is in the oven, get out and exercise. On Thanksgiving morning, our family, along with 40,000 of our closest friends, will be running 8-miles in the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot. If that’s not your style, create your own version of the Turkey Trot or get a Turkey Bowl game going. Burn some calories before you consume them later on.
Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for our health, bounty and blessings from the preceding year. Wouldn’t it be great to include weight management on this list to be thankful for? Eat your fiber and protein, substitute and reduce when you can, fuel your body throughout the day and get in your exercise. A brisk one-hour walk for a 150-pound person can burn 340 calories.
Niccole Maurici, University Park mom of four and former certified personal trainer, is the co-founder and creator of the StrongestMom.com website and fitness videos, which promote values important to moms: encouragement, support, positive thinking, and dedication. To learn more visit our website strongestmom.com.