Around the holidays we find ourselves at far more parties and big meals with friends and family we haven’t seen in a while. The sun also sets sooner, which means less motivation to go for a run. At least for me.
We then complain about gaining weight. But what if I told you there was a way to avoid gaining weight? And you could make $100K a year? And get the spouse of your dreams? Well, I can only promise you the first part – and I can’t even promise you that. But here are 11 tips for not gaining a turkey over the holidays.
If you plan on fasting until the party or dinner, then think again. That’s not going to help you maintain control when confronted with food options galore. a.) You’ll be so ravenous, you won’t be able to stop yourself when you’re on your fourth roll (and gaining a roll), and b.) If you do this on a regular basis, your body thinks you’re starving it, so it’s more prone to retain calories. Not what you were going for. Think of this as your excuse to go to brunch and watch the Macy’s Day Parade.
Schedule the meal midday.
Late meals encourage overeating. Midday meals allow for more normal eating, e.g. typical portions. I’m actually hypothesizing this, so you may overindulge even if you eat at noon.
No, this isn’t about avoiding carbs. It’s about avoiding empty calories – and not just nutritionally empty. Is the bread homemade and warm and/or a croissant? (Can anyone deny a croissant?) Or is it a store-bought white roll? Only one of these is worth it, and it’s not the store-bought roll.
Load up on protein.
Protein helps you stay fuller longer (so you won’t go back for fourths) and contributes to muscle growth – which most people want to grow muscle, not fat. So maybe go back for fourths on the turkey, ham, or beans. Or maybe just seconds.
Pair side dishes with vegetables.
his doesn’t mean mix stuffing into your green bean casserole. Instead, do something like this: Put mashed potatoes on your greens (we usually have kale or collards at my family dinners, unadorned except for salt and pepper). It makes the vegetables more palatable and lets you get your fiber. (Corn pudding is another good mixer!)
Say maybe not to the gravy.
Gravy is empty calories. Use other sides if you need to moisten something on your plate – and tell whoever made the turkey to learn how to baste.
Identify your opponent.
What I mean is, what dishes can you only get at Thanksgiving? Or will this dish be back on Christmas Eve and Easter and Fourth of July? If it’s special, definitely, plow in. Otherwise, use restraint and put it on your plate at the next holiday function.
Don’t gorge on generic items.
I am not against store-bought things. I shop at Target. But if it’s Thanksgiving and everything on the table is grandmother-baked, why the heck would you even consider desecrating your plate and letting your aunt’s German chocolate cake touch a thawed, generic cherry pie? There’s nothing special about a 400-calorie sixteenth of a pie. Get back, Satan!
Read the back of the box.
If you see the pie box on the counter, look at the nutrition. I wasn’t joking when I wrote a sixteenth of the pie was 400 calories. Run away. Far, far away.
Go for a walk after dinner (while you’re running away).
Or go before. Turkey trot or whatever, be active! This suppresses hunger and helps burn calories. Bring a friend or relative to catch up with.
Drink after you finish eating.
Or don’t drink. Just don’t drink before dinner. Alcohol lowers inhibition. I’m not worried about your inhibitions with your partner (you may burn calories that way); I’m worried about when you get in front of casseroles and cheesecake.
And, worst case, you break all these rules. Then the only rule to remember is tomorrow is a fresh start. Don’t beat yourself up.