Don't Be a Stuffed Turkey!

Thanksgiving is usually a holiday people look forward to the most because you gather around with loved ones and feast on the most epic foods of all types of gluttonous portions (this my friends is the beginning of the average 5-12lb weight gain Americans pack on throughout the holiday season).

Ugh, I remember the feeling of having to unbutton my pants hoping no one sees, taking a deep breath and straightening my back up against the chair- getting away from my hunched postured because that was pushing the food up to my throat even more. As much as my tastebuds loved those types of Thanksgiving dinners, my body did not and my mind was so full of guilt.

One year I vowed to really learn the best ways to treat myself during these festive gatherings, but to not completely feel like a stuffed turkey. My tips have stayed with me for the past five to six years and I want to share them with you.

1. Don't starve yourself before the main event. Drink a lot of water, and eat a breakfast and lunch packed with protein and veggies. When you show up to a party starving, you tend to pick at all the appetizers, guzzle alcohol and before you know it, you are 500 calories deep before the main event- the turkey! By eating the first two meals of the day, you are ensuring yourself that you aren't going to be a bottomless pit for the apps and dinner.

2. When you arrive, have a glass of wine (or another lower calorie alcoholic drink... make sure the goblet isn't filled to the brim- 4 ounces please), chase with water, and choose your apps wisely. If you know you are going to eat more starchy carbs during dinner and have dessert later, migrate towards the crudite platter. If you are a sucker for cheese, enjoy that healthy fat while skipping the roasted nut bowl. Are you a protein lover? Choose the shrimp cocktail over the salty cured meats. By balancing out the food options (carbs, protein, fat, sodium, sugar), you are not overdoing it in one area especially in the beginning of the night. Be strategic, but never deprive yourself.

3. When it is time to sit at the table, have another guzzle of water and check out everything there is to indulge in. I am a huge advocate of treating yourself so when it comes to this part, I say eat whatever you'd like. It's Thanksgiving for goodness sake. However, how much of it is what really matters! Think of your plate cut into quarters. Try out whatever starches you'd like, just make sure they take up a quarter of your plate (and don't you dare go running into the kitchen trying to find the biggest plate you own!). The other quarter of your plate should be designated to the turkey or any other protein. Then the last half of your plate is all about the veggies. Pack them high and go for it. When it comes to cranberry sauces and gravy, about 2-3tbsp is a healthy amount.

4. Take some time in between dinner and dessert. Help clean the table, do some dishes, play a family game... distract yourself so your belly can get to digesting for a bit. Dumping all that food in at once makes it harder for your metabolism to burn everything off. Don't do what Mike does (drink hot tea so his stomach relaxes and expands... and he can eat more!! Yes, he does this on purpose. The bugger). When it comes to dessert, I suggest doing one of two things. Pick your fav looking pie and have a small piece of that or taste a couple bites (meaning 2-3 bites) of each dessert. Make a small tasting plate that would be the equivalent to the small piece of pie.

5. Lastly, I try not to go for seconds. Of anything. I usually do a decent job eyeballing how much food I can handle from trial and error over the years- and I stick to it.

6. My last piece of advice would be to make this holiday more so about being thankful and spending time with family/friends. Fill up on gratitude and enjoy the spirit of the day. If you do go way overboard, do not hold on to feelings of guilt and shame. There is always a fresh start in the morning!

Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving to you all!

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