Eating right can be as complicated as trying to drive home on the 405 freeway on Thursday afternoon (except for maybe this Thursday afternoon because it will be Thanksgiving.) For those of you unfamiliar with L.A., let me just clarify that it is quite the task. When you are trying to eat correctly for a health condition, trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss, it is even more challenging. As the holidays come around, it is natural to want to indulge in all of those foods you remember eating before you were old enough to cook the meal. Here are some tips for making it through Thanksgiving without nudging the scale upwards or falling into a food-induced coma.
1. Plan Around the Big Meal. Eat a healthy but light menu the day before, and only eat when hungry the day after. Make sure it is your stomach telling you to eat and not your brain on Friday (and, well, everyday. It’s excellent advice.)
2. Skip the Carbs on Friday. Do not make yourself a turkey sandwich with dressing on the side – or in the sandwich. Leave the left over mashed potatoes and yams in the fridge. They can wait until Saturday. Have a salad and some broth or miso soup for dinner.
3. Low Carb and Gluten-Free Are Not the Same Thing. While eating a low carb diet high in protein and plant based foods will naturally cause a calorie deficit that helps you to lose weight, eating gluten-free snacks full of grain, nut flours or starches will not have the same effect. Eating gluten-free is not a weight-loss panacea but instead a way for people who suffer from irritable bowel, have Celiac disease or other digestive disorders to avoid painful symptoms. Many people shun gluten to avoid stomach bloat, but eat enough of the processed gluten-free flours and products, and you will see the spare tire inflate.
4. Try a New Vegetable. It is hard to get excited over green beans every Thanksgiving so why bother? Go to the produce department and pick out a vegetable that looks interesting or that you’ve been meaning to try. Check recipes on the internet or in magazines to get new vegetable ideas. Cook a vegetable popular in a different culture that you think your family will enjoy. The holiday is drawing near, but it’s not too late to add more new and exciting vegetable dishes to your Thanksgiving table.
5. Eat the Big Meal Early. It has been a tradition in my family to cook the turkey overnight for as long as I can remember. There are so many wonderful reasons to do it this way. It frees up your oven to make pies and smaller dishes on Thanksgiving day. You wake up to the most terrific smelling house in the morning. You have time to clean up the kitchen before you go to bed on Thanksgiving Eve and get things planned and organized for the next day. The turkey usually is so tender that it falls off the bone when cooked slowly. However, the biggest plus may be that you can really eat dinner early and have a chance to burn off some of those calories later in the day. If hunger strikes later in the evening, have a small snack.
6. Enjoy Yourself! There’s nothing worse than food-guilt to ruin your festive mood and your confidence in your diet. If you are on a weight loss program, remember to think of your goals and plan your Thanksgiving treats and indulgences. Eat some pie, go ahead. Have a full and enjoyable meal. It’s only one meal, so count it as that. Do not let that little voice in your head start telling you that you’ve messed up. You haven’t. You’ll get to your protein smoothie, squats, burpies and crunches on Friday. Why? Because you want to succeed, so you will.
7. Don’t Weigh Yourself Until the Next Week. Many people who are successful at losing or maintaining their weight don’t weigh every day or even every week. Water weight and hormonal fluctuations can make you feel disappointed and undermine your fitness goals. It’s better to measure by how your jeans fit you than by the number on the machine.