A Healthier Thanksgiving

Averaging between 3000 and 4500 calories, Thanksgiving is a high calorie affair.

For a lot of people, Thanksgiving is also one big bingeathon. The start of the holiday health slide that sees most people gain anywhere from one to 10 pounds before January 1st.

Are you one of the weight-gainers? This year, why not try something different? Here’s some fast tips on how to enjoy Thanksgiving in more health supportive way.

* Start your day with veggies and a spot of protein. Try a glass of veggie juice—options include V8, tomato juice, fresh-pressed veggie juice or a green smoothie. Add a side of protein. Maybe some turkey bacon or sausage. Or an apple or pear with nut butter. This will deeply nourish your body, squelch potential cravings, and give you the energy you need to get through the morning without blood sugar crashes, crankiness or brain fog.

* Work up a sweat in the morning. Really get out there and exercise. Vigorously. This can mean 30 minutes on your favorite piece of gym equipment, a run around the neighborhood, climbing stairs, jumping on a rebounder, or anything else that gets you moving. Get your metabolism moving before Thanksgiving dinner so you can more efficiently move the dinner’s calories through your body without weight gain.

* Go with tea instead of coffee. Coffee can elevate blood glucose levels, putting you smack in the path for strong sugar and carb cravings. Face this Thanksgiving craving-free by sticking to tea. Black tea with milk is fine.

* Drink one glass of water per hour. Water fills you up, keeps you busy and hydrates you. All of which mean you’ll be less likely to binge.

* Eat a salad for lunch. Raw greens alkalize you, making you less likely to crave sugar and simple carbs. Raw greens also fill you up, making it less likely you’ll be in the kitchen sneaking a bowl of pre-Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.

* Try chia. Two tablespoons of chia—mixed into a glass of water or sprinkled on a salad—curbs hunger by giving you a pleasant feeling of fullness. This tip courtesy of The Chia Diet for Total Health, a book I co-wrote with Wayne Coates for Sterling Publishers. It’s due out Spring 2012.

* Ditch the loose clothing for a more body-skimming getup. You’ll be less likely to overdo it when you have a waistband telling you it’s time to stop eating.

* Set yourself up for success. Think ahead. If you’re a guest at someone else’s home, bring two healthy dishes with you. Maybe you can bring sautéed greens with pine nuts and golden raisins and a fruit salad for dessert. Or roasted root veggies and your famous cranberry chutney.

* Don’t serve bread. With all that’s on the table already, do you really need bread?

* Pour everyone a glass of seltzer with dinner. Dress each glass with a slice of lemon, lime or orange. This way, everyone can be hydrated together.

* Limit alcohol. You know what alcohol does to your willpower—but did you know that it also plays tricks on your blood sugar, making you more likely to later crave sugary or starchy food?

* Load your place with protein and veggies. These are your healthiest, most nutrient-dense options—the foods that will do the most good with the least amount of calories or post-digestive cravings.

* Eat only what you like. Why waste calories on sweet potatoes when you can’t stand them? Have the roasted Brussels’s sprouts instead. Don’t like stuffing? Go with the wild rice salad.

* Don’t hang out near the food. Sit down when it’s time to sit down. Let people pass you what you want. You’ll be less likely to overeat when you can’t help yourself to third portions.

* Instead of eating dessert directly after the dinner, wait a bit. Clear the table, do the dinner dishes, start a discussion about what your grateful for. By postponing dessert, you give your tummy the time it needs to send an “I’m all full” message to your brain.

* Go for a walk after dinner, before dessert.
Or offer to take the kids to the neighborhood park. Or the dog for a short stroll. No need for a full-scale workout, but a quick movement break can help you digest, get the metabolism revved up to digest what you’ve already eaten, and give you a fresh hit of energy—which is just what you may need before facing the dessert course.

* Don’t eat the crust. We’re talking pie, here. Eat the filling, leave the crust. It’s just white flour and fat. Do you need either of those?

* Put the leftovers away promptly. Out of sight, out of mind—or at least out of reach. Once you put leftovers away, you can no longer pick, pick, pick.

* Take an post-dessert walk. Stand up, stretch, and go for a walk. Yes, even if you already took a walk after dinner, you can take a second walk after dessert. For all the same reasons.

Have your own tips? Share them below!



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