Happy Thanksgiving from Princeton Longevity Center! As you probably realize, if we’re not careful, holidays like Thanksgiving can wreak havoc on our waistlines and can throw us off track with weight-loss/weight control efforts. Keep the commitment you’ve made to yourself, whether it’s healthy eating, weight control, blood glucose management, etc. by developing a survival strategy to help successfully navigate holiday get-togethers. Here are some tips to help you:
- Avoid Hunger! Skipping meals or going too light with meals the day of a holiday event might not save calories; it might actually increase your caloric intake at the event since being very hungry can cause overeating! Focus on eating small, frequent meals the hours before a holiday event to help keep your energy levels even and make you less likely to give into temptations later on. If you are getting ready to leave for the event and find that you are truly hungry, have a low calorie satisfying snack before you leave. Examples include: raw vegetables (pepper strips, celery stalks, cucumber slices, etc.), a scoop of protein powder mixed into unsweetened almond milk or water, a 100 calorie Greek yogurt, an apple, etc. If you are hosting the event and know you will be very busy preparing with little time to eat beforehand, stock up on a few frozen meal options to use for a quick meal.
- Since sitting or standing too close to food can be tempting and lead to overeating, position yourself as far from the food as possible. Keep a glass of water, unsweetened iced tea or seltzer in your dominant hand to prevent “picking” on food.
- Volunteer to bring a tray of raw vegetables and hummus; you can use this as your appetizer or to fill your dinner plate if the other vegetable dishes available are high in calories.
- Use the smallest plate available to help with portion control. Try to fill at least 1/2 of your Thanksgiving plate with vegetables. Skip second helpings (having second helpings might double your caloric intake!) by passing platters of trigger food to the other end of the table, keeping yourself occupied with conversations, keeping a water glass in your dominant hand, starting an after-meal tradition by going for a quick walk around the block, going into another room to play with/spend time with the kids, etc.
- It typically takes the stomach 15-20 minutes to signal the brain that you’ve had enough food. The faster we eat the more likely we are to miss this crucial signal and may then consume too many calories. Try pausing after each bite and engaging in the conversation around you. Savor each bite by eating slowly and allowing yourself to feel and respond to fullness cues.
Also, keep in mind that one slip-up or an occasional indulgence will not ruin your chances of long-term weight control or healthy eating. If you find yourself in the midst of unintended overeating, the best thing to do is get back on track immediately at your next meal.