Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family and memories to be made – not a time for feeling guilty about food choices or depriving yourself of certain foods. Below are my Turkey Time Tools so you can be healthy and enjoy yourself. My tips were also featured in Fox News Magazine.
Preparation before the meal:
- A huge mistake my clients tend to make is eating very little until the big meal. This is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you have a solid breakfast and lunch filled with a good combination of protein and healthy carbohydrates. When you starve yourself during the day in preparation for a huge meal your body has a much harder time acknowledging when you are actually full. You also will get much more intense cravings for sugary and carbohydrate heavy sweets.
- Ditch the all or nothing diet mentality. So many people have “cheat” days then are excessively strict and deprive themselves. This causes them to overeat way too much when they “let themselves go.” I always hear “I am starting my diet tomorrow.” You should erase the term diet from your vocabulary. Indulge in a balanced way; if you are craving a serving of stuffing have a portion but do not eat three servings. Do you notice how the first serving of an amazing food tastes the best? The food is not as good the second or third time around.
- Remember why you are at the Thanksgiving table in the first place. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and be grateful for the people you are surrounded by. Focus on friends, family and conversation. The dinner is only one part of the equation.
- Whether it is a morning jog, a brisk family hike or a football game do something to get your sweat on. Make time for physical activity even if it is a twenty minute fast walk around the block before dinner. Everything counts and something is better than nothing. Make it a friend and family event. Everything is better with a buddy.
What to eat:
- Fill up on protein! Go for the light meat instead of the dark meat and skip the skin. Light meat has less saturated fat (unhealthy fat) than the dark meat. Filling up on protein increases your feelings of satisfaction, stabilizes your blood sugar levels and will keep you more full for a longer amount of time. If you are vegetarian make sure there is a healthy protein option at your dinner so you do not just overeat stuffing or marshmallow yams. (Check out my Meal Makeover Spaghetti Squash video tutorial here for a healthy vegetarian option.)
- Get creative! So many people are closed-minded when it comes to healthy alternatives and ignore the idea before they even try it. I always teach my clients to find some healthy swaps that they can enjoy. Instead of marshmallows add Greek yogurt (with stevia) to the Yams. Spice up your dishes with cinnamon, garlic and nutmeg instead of extra butter and excessive oils. Spices are incredible; they are huge metabolism boosters, help curb cravings and increase post meal satisfaction levels. Not to mention transform the taste of dishes.
- Get your greens on! There is always a healthy basic side dish at Thanksgiving whether it is steamed green beans or roasted Brussels sprouts. Just make sure it is not soaked in extra butter or excessive oils.
- What about dessert? Easy breezy! If you are unable to bring a healthy dessert like my warm pumpkin cranberry parfait then simply indulge in a balanced way. Guess what? If you did fill up on protein you will 100% not crave the same amount of dessert you do normally. Take time to visit, play card games or watch a movie with the family. Always have an activity besides just eating dessert. If you have a love affair with pumpkin pie, have a slice, enjoy it and move on. I also am a huge dark chocolate fan! Check out two of my favorite “no brainer” Eat Yourself Gorgeous dark chocolate healthy desserts here.
Have a plan for the day: what you are going to indulge in, what you are going to pass on and how you are going to get your sweat on. Everyone is different so it is really important to understand what your weakness is and be aware of it. If it is eating too much stuffing to avoid talking to that relative who you have nothing in common with or having one two many helpings of marshmallow yams.
Remember to have compassion for yourself.
Simply keep yourself in check and focus on the bigger picture of why you are together in the first place.
Small consistent steps overtime is how lasting change occurs.
*A cause that is very dear to my heart is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I have formed a team in honor of my grandmother, Dr. Lailee Bakhtiar, who passed away after a 21 year battle with the disease. You can learn more about my team here.
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