By Eleanor Baker, MS, RD, LDN
Oops, I overate at dinner!
Don’t let accidentally over eating ruin your joyous holiday. One meal will not make or break your diet but allowing the holiday season to run away with you, turkey leg in hand, can easily add to unwanted weight gain.
Did you know that Americans, on average, gains one extra pound over the holidays?
This may not seem significant but if it happens year after year, those pounds can add up quickly. Stay trim this holiday season with these top tips!
Stick to a Routine
Eat at the same times you do normally, adjusting as necessary to allow yourself to show up to the table with a manageable hunger and NOT feeling ravenous. When you are excessively hungry and sit down to a feast, what do you think will happen? The likelihood that you will over eat is very high. Rather, have a small piece of fruit and drink a glass of water if you find you are overly hungry before the big meal. Don’t worry if you didn’t get a special dish at the main meal, surely there will be leftovers for you to snack on tomorrow!
Did you accidentally overeat? Continue sticking to your regular eating routine and simply have smaller meals. For example, instead of having a large sandwich as you normally for lunch, swap it out with a small serving of yogurt topped with berries for lunch. This will allow you metabolism to keep humming along as opposed to going into a starvation state if you skipped all meals.
With food and drinks flowing, the holidays are an essential time to stay active! Find movement throughout your day by doing family walks after a meal, playing games, yoga, or going the zoo or shopping! Carve out time for your regular exercise routine to prevent unwanted pounds as well as reduce bloating. Focus on 30-60 mins of moderate to intense cardio exercise every day. Go for a run (tons of holiday 5ks!), biking, hiking, surfing, rowing, kayaking, or snowboarding and skiing (for those up north!). Keeping cardio exercises in your routine will help you to torch any extra calories. Be sure to keep up your strength routine a few times per week as well. Strength exercise build and maintain lean muscle mass which keeps your metabolism fast.
Exercise also helps with healthy digestion. Including movement such as power walking or running helps get the digestive system moving and aids in regularity.
When you’re not navigating the family buffet, make healthy choices whenever you can. Remember, one meal won’t completely derail your health goals but making poor dietary choices regularly will. That being said, you will have opportunities throughout the holiday season to reboot your diet. Below are some choices to make to help your body reset after a large meal:
- Smoothie for breakfast. 1 cup berries, 1 cup frozen spinach, 1” chunk of ginger for good digestion, 1 scoop clean protein powder, add low fat milk or water to desired consistency.
- Have a salad daily. Try a spinach (2 cups) salad, ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion, 2 tbsp cranberry sauce, 3.5 oz white meat turkey, and 2 tbsp goat cheese.
- Take probiotics. Probiotics will help your body maintain healthy digestion and boost your immunity.
- Not hungry for a big meal? Break out your juicer or stop by a health food store for a freshly squeezed green juice. Choose juices that have a vegetable base to keep the sugar and calorie content low.
Listen to Your Hunger Cues
Ask yourself throughout the day, am I hungry? Focus on eating when you are actually hungry. Often times when snacks and drinks are within reach it is easy to find yourself mindlessly munching. Instead, have a cup of tea, a glass of sparkling water, chew gum, or go for a walk to prevent excess snacking and or drinking. A handful of crackers here, a drink there, and before you know it you’ve eaten an extra 300 calories!
Stop when you are 80% full. It takes about 20 minutes for your gut to signal to your brain that you are full. By eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and truly tasting each bite your will but less likely to accidentally over eat. If you are taking your time to savor each bite you may find that you only need a few bites or your favorite dessert to feel satisfied!
Last But Certainly Not Least
Enjoy the holidays! Thanksgiving is so much more than eating a big meal or wondering who cooked the best pie. It’s about being thankful for all that you have and savoring time with those you care about most. Don’t forget to let everyone know what you are most thankful for and listen to what they have to share as well!
I’m thankful that you took the time to learn about tips to keep your health at its best this Thanksgiving!
Have a wonderful holiday season!
Photo credit: A special thanks to Seth Dunlap with Death to the Stock Photo for your beautiful imagery.