Simple Tips to Avoid Overindulging on Thanksgiving Day

Monday, November 24, 2014 1:18 PM comments (0)

thanksgivingCounting calories isn’t at the top of many to-do lists on Thanksgiving Day, and it still doesn’t have to be. With a little planning and a few substitutions, your Thanksgiving can be a little healthier and every bit as delicious. 

Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at NorthShore, breaks down this decadent day, sharing health tips for before and during the big meal:

Before the Dinner

  • Create a calorie deficit. Add an extra 20-30 minutes to your weekly exercise routine before and after the big day. That’s enough to create a calorie deficit and give you a little leeway at the dinner table. 
  • Eat breakfast! While you may think you should try to save up calories for the big meal, eating breakfast will save you from snacking beforehand and gorging come mealtime.
  • Prioritize. What would you regret not eating on Thanksgiving? What can you do without? The day is filled with rich, delicious foods, but you don’t have to eat them all. Determine what dishes are most important to you and then pass on the rest. 
  • Avoid snacking beforehand. Crackers, nuts and cheese spreads are unnecessary calories compared to the Thanksgiving classics you’ll be served during your meal.

When Cooking

  • Cut back on butter. A little butter goes a long way, and it’s also not the only way to boost flavors. Citrus fruits, like lemon, lime and orange, can add a burst of flavor to gravies and veggies with a fraction of the calories. 
  • Replace cream with milk. In the same vein, avoid using cream if you don’t have to. For creamed onions or mashed potatoes, use low-fat milk. The calories saved will far outweigh the subtle change in flavor.
  • Sweet potatoes are sweet enough. The natural sweetness of sweet potatoes is more than enough to sustain a yam-based dish. Bake them instead of mashing with butter, sugar and cream. 
  • Start from scratch. Making stuffing from scratch is much healthier than prepackaged stuffing mix because it cuts back on sodium and additives. It also means you have control over what goes in, including cutting back on butter and oil as well as swapping wheat bread for white to up fiber content.
  • Keep sampling to a minimum. It can be tempting to keep taste-testing your food, but try to avoid consuming those extra calories before the meal itself.

At the Table

  • Serve up a colorful plate. Vegetables add the color, so try to craft a plate that is packed with veggies, approximately half the plate and then divide the rest evenly between turkey and stuffing or rolls. 
  • Downsize dinnerware. Studies show that people serve themselves portions on scale with the size of the plate they’re given. In other words, smaller plates mean small portions. 
  • Slow down. It can take around 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that your body is full. Before you serve up seconds, take a breather and drink a little water to make sure your body isn’t confusing thirst for hunger. Or, have a basic salad on hand—dark lettuce leaves and a light dressing—and eat that to see if your hunger holds out. 
  • Less can look like more. If it’s too difficult to stick to ‘just a sliver’ of all your favorite pies, ditch the standard 9-inch diameter pie pan for something smaller. The piece will look big but be significantly smaller.

What do you do to keep holiday eating in check? 

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Celebrate a Healthier Holiday Season

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 3:25 PM comments (0)

holiday eatingAre your waistbands a little tighter each year when January arrives? It’s not just your imagination. Studies show that the average American gains between one and two pounds during the holiday season, and up to 14% of Americans gain five pounds or more. This fairly small gain tends to increase body fat percentage, which may partially explain why we often have the illusion of a more significant increase around the holidays. 

Holiday parties, rich holiday food, the cold weather keeping you indoors and holiday stress can all contribute to this seasonal weight gain.  And, though the gain may be modest, for many it could stick around for the rest of the year.

Weight loss doesn’t have to be a New Year’s resolution this year. Start your year off right with these simple tips from Jeni Panicko, RD, LDN at NorthShore, and enjoy the holiday season full of health and zero regrets:

Focus on maintenance not weight loss. Enjoy the holidays! If you start out trying to deny yourself the food that you enjoy, you’re likely to overindulge eventually. Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays; try to maintain your weight. The holidays can be stressful enough without the added pressure of a diet. 

Have a healthy snack before you head out the door. Holiday parties are a great time to catch up with friends and family, but they aren’t the best place to find healthy snacks. When your favorite high-fat holiday fare is on offer, it’s not easy to practice moderation, especially if you show up hungry. Eat a healthy snack before you hit the buffet line to avoid overindulging. If you don’t have time to eat beforehand, grab a small plate and ensure most of it is filled with healthy fruits and veggies. 

Keep moving! The weather outside might be frightful, but don’t let that keep you from staying active during the holiday season. There are many outdoor activities that not only embrace the cold but are big calorie-burners for the entire family, like ice-skating and cross-country skiing (no hills required). Make these family activities and you’ve started a new healthy holiday tradition. Keep it simple, layer up and go for a walk; take the stairs at work before your holiday days off instead of the elevator; do your holiday shopping at the store instead of online. 

Don’t forget your fruits and vegetables. Seasonal fruits and veggies aren’t just a summer thing. Apples, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, leeks and pumpkin are all in season during the colder months of the year, and they can be prepared in a multitude of healthy and delicious ways. Fill your plate and don’t regret it.

Make some small substitutions that make a big difference. Healthy substitutions can make a huge difference when it comes to calories and fat. Use lower-fat ingredients in your holiday cooking to create healthier versions of your favorite holiday foods.  Consider substituting skim milk for whole. In many baked goods, applesauce can replace oil. And the best thing about making these healthy substitutions is that, in terms of taste, you won’t notice a thing. 

How to you maintain your weight during the holidays?

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