Cue that mental montage of one delectable dish after another -- buttery cornbread, carb-alicious stuffing, sweet potato casserole, turkey legs and maybe a piece of pumpkin pie (or three). OK, so it's finally here: the holiday that’s based around one terrific concept, food.
So here’s where the health tips come into play, right? Why you should sub rye bread for those crescent rolls on the dinner table? Or,why isn't tofu not that bad of an option for this year? (Look, now, let’s not go to that extreme.)
Instead let’s take a look at why so many people pack on the pounds near the end of the year. Holidays like Halloween, T-Day and Christmas each occur in a different month; therefore, three months, or one-fourth of the year, are heavily based around the concept of food. We don’t always celebrate the holidays on the day itself but often extend celebrations to the entire month by way of leftovers and social activities that revolve around eating. While this certainly makes for a great close to the year, maintaining a level weight is obviously very tricky and weight gain often occurs.
What are some tips for establishing Thanksgiving Day-eating boundaries? First, focus on the holiday as that one special day. Eat what you want on that day, but think twice before reheating leftovers. For instance, should you have 10 batches of baked mac-and-cheese left over, weigh your options as to what to do: Should you eat out of each pan, little by little, until each calorie-laden pan is whittled down to pasta crumbs? Or should you go with the healthier decision and toss the remnants of the dish?
On the surface, and especially in regards to T-Day, you may think that discarding leftovers is wasteful. But is the option of consuming enough calories to feed a sumo wrestler really that wasteful? Think of the act of tossing fattening leftovers as a preventative measure against weight gain.
If you’re not one to throw away food, then consider how many portions of a dish you want to make ahead of time. If a recipe says that it’ll provide six servings and you have seven people who’ll be at dinner, is there truly a need to double the recipe? Try making one-and-a-half portions of the recipe, so that you’ll have more than enough for your guests and will have little to no leftovers.
Of course, you don’t have to toss all leftovers, either -- save the nutritious dishes (here’s where healthy eating comes into play). Wrap up roasted veggies and baked sweet potatoes, and save them for side dishes for Monday night’s supper. Also, skip spooning gravy on your turkey leftovers. Instead, consider dicing up white turkey meat and toss with plain, fat-free yogurt and some lemon juice, walnuts and some dill (diced apple and honey work well, too).
In addition, an active lifestyle during the holiday months is effective at burning off extra calories. Get out there and exercise, and spend a little bit longer on the treadmill if you know you’re going to be having a love affair with mashed potatoes on Thursday.
Incorporate physical activity into holiday traditions as well. How about a little "rah-rah" camaraderie at the gym pre-Thanksgiving, for an intense boot camp-like workout? Not only will you prep yourself to eat guilt-free on the big day, but you’ll also alleviate any holiday stress by way of exercise.
So, go ahead and pile up your plate on Thanksgiving. Eat that mac-and-cheese and fork up that stuffing; ladle that gravy and revel in your mashed potatoes. However, if you truly want to make a conscious effort to avoid weight gain, remember that a holiday is just that -- simply, just one day on which to celebrate.
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