Sure, you could feast with your eyes on Thanksgiving, but it’s certainly more satisfying to feast on that turkey instead. But before you go into a tryptophan timeout from all that gorging, there is a better, more mindful way to go about eating your Thanksgiving meal. Two health experts give us all the tips you could possibly need for eating your way through the holidays. (And handy, easy to digest tips if you did end up eating too much.)
Yep, as counterintuitive as that sounds, the trick to eating less is actually eating more. Hear us out: “Eat before the big meal. When people go into a meal hungry, their defenses are down, and they are less able to make the right decisions,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, NYC-based registered dietitian, bestselling author, and founder of The F-Factor Diet.
Eat a small satisfying snack containing at least five grams of fiber and five grams of protein before dinner.
“Fiber, is the zero-calorie indigestible portion of the carbohydrate, which add bulks to our food, decreases transit time, and keeps us feeling fuller longer,” says Zuckerbrot. ”Protein regulates our hunger and satiety hormones so we eat when we are hungry, and put down the fork when we are satisfied. Protein may also help with emotional eating by interfering with the brain’s responses to food stimuli, therefore decreasing cravings. Free of judgement-clouding cravings, you will be able to maintain composure when trays of tempting appetizers pass by, and make responsible decisions about what you will eat as the evening progresses.”
“Have plenty of raw veggies cut up, plus sliced meat/cheese rollups to snack on while others are having candy and chips,” says bestselling author, nutrition and overeating expert Julia Ross (her next book The Craving Cure: Identify Your Craving Type to Activate Your Natural Appetite Control is out December 12).
Some good pre-party snack ideas include:
- Apple with a handful (less than 10) of almonds
- High fiber crackers with sliced turkey or low-fat cheese
- Nonfat Greek yogurt and raspberries
- Low-fat cottage cheese with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- A cup or small bowl of chicken soup filled with non-starchy vegetables
- Carrots with homemade tzatziki nonfat Greek yogurt dip
Follow the three bite rule
You don’t want to deprive yourself. Indulge a little, but it’s important to do so mindfully. Zuckerbrot suggests the three bite rule, where you allow yourself to take three bites of the indulgent food. “This allows you to enjoy it without wreaking havoc on your diet,” says Zuckerbrot. “The first and last bite of any food are the most satisfying and enjoyable anyway, as studies show people rate the first and last bites of food as the best.”
“Fill up on lots of turkey and vegetables, and have some potatoes or yams (if not swimming in sugary syrup),” says Ross. “For dessert, have one bite of pumpkin pie and savor it for five minutes. Cover it with lots of whipped cream (which is mostly air). If you eat the holiday meal early, have a meal of leftovers later in the evening to keep from junk-snacking.”
Dress for success
Believe it or not, what you wear can help you from overeating. “Wear something form-fitting and you’ll be less likely to overeat if you don’t have room to do so,” says Zuckerbrot. “Nothing feels worse than when you eat so much you have to unbutton a button or loosen your belt.”
And carry a clutch. “When you carry a clutch instead of a purse with a strap, you have one less hand available to hold a plate,” says Zuckerbrot. “Hold a glass of wine, and you have no free hands to grab a hor d’oeuvres as they are being passed around.”
You tried your best but overindulging still snuck up on you? Hydrate ASAP. “Remaining adequately hydrated can help to speed up digestion and help to counteract the effects of the likely salty and high-carb foods you consumed,” says Zuckerbrot. Alternatively, if your stomach is upset, sip on peppermint or ginger tea to settle it.
Also, get up and moving. “Put on your coat and go for a brisk walk, or excuse yourself, go to the bathroom, and dance hard or run in place for five minutes,” says Ross.
The morning after
Do not beat yourself up if you did overeat. “If you overdo it at dinner, don’t let it turn into an ‘I blew it’ binge that lasts till the New Year,” says Zuckerbrot. “One single indulgence is not going to ruin you.”
“If you lose it totally, do not blame yourself: you’re a victim of food scientists, who have figured out how to addict you to their high calorie, low nutrient health bombs,” says Ross.
“The best thing you can do for yourself is come morning, get back on track with breakfast,” says Zuckerbrot. “Start your new day with a high fiber cereal for breakfast, and continue to make the right choices throughout the day.”
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