Enjoy Thanksgiving and Still Fit into Your Jeans

Your kid’s Halloween candy might seem like pure child’s play in comparison to the marathon of holiday eating we are entering now till New Years. If you are someone who has finally conquered the scale and surrendered that last 5-10 lbs of weight loss, Thanksgiving can truly be a nightmare.  The good news is you can actually enjoy Thanksgiving without gaining a pound.  Here are some of the secrets I share with my patients at my New York City naturopathic practice. 

Start your day with protein

Choosing a protein rich breakfast is the perfect way to start a successful Thanksgiving.  A breakfast that is high in protein and light on carbohydrate helps to balance your blood sugars and keeps your cravings at bay.  This is why I recommend high protein breakfasts for most of my weight loss plans. For a winning team, pair your protein with vegetables.  My pre Thanksgiving breakfast go-to is two eggs scrambled with a cup of broccoli, onion and coconut oil.  If you don’t like eggs another option is a bean or lentil soup.  Not only does it have protein but also a lot of fiber to keep you fuller longer.  If you are not dairy-free and prefer a sweeter breakfast, full fat Greek yogurt with raspberries or blueberries, a dash of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey will keep you feeling full till mealtime.  If your Thanksgiving meal is a late afternoon, you may want to have a later breakfast than you do normally or have it at your regular time but add in a small protein snack around noon.

Focus on the main event

The major dietary pitfall on Thanksgiving is often not the meal itself but all the eating leading up to it.  You know what I’m talking about.  The bottomless bowls of chips and dip and cheese and cracker trays just to name a few.  Munching on all of these can quickly and sneakily add up.  One of my weight loss patients was doing very well on the meal plan I designed for her but always struggled with the abundance of high calories snacks all over her parents’ place.  I told her to skip them and the pounds dropped off.  If you really feel a need to munch reach for veggie crudités or carry your own 1 oz size bags of nuts if portion control is an issue.

Perfect your plate

First if you have the option between a salad or a dinner plate, choose the salad which will make portion control a breeze.  Now lets load up that plate starting with protein.  Fill about ¼ of your plate with less than an inch high of turkey (dark or white your choice) and gravy or vegetarian substitute.  Though it will up the calories on your plate, if you like the skin as much as I do, leave it on as it does have health benefits.  Next pick from an assortment of non-starchy veggie sides like roasted Brussels sprouts and green salad to fill at least half of the plate. For the grand finale, pick one starchy side to fill less than ¼ of the plate or about the size of a cupped hand.  Let it be the one you love!  You know the one I’m talking about (stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes, you name it!)  Now here’s the tricky part enjoy this perfect plate and don’t go back for seconds.  If you really really can’t resist seconds opt for more veggies.  Whoops almost forgot the cranberry sauce.  Say yes to two tablespoons :) 

For dessert, enjoy a slice of pie by cutting a slice of your favorite that is no more than two finger widths in size along the crust.  If you must, one dollop of whipped cream is fine.

Drink responsibly

Alcohol can make any meal festive but it can also sabotage weight loss.  The main problem is that when you have one too many you are more likely to overindulge.  This is because alcohol lowers both inhibition and blood sugar both things you want to have under control.  Even worse is some drinks, especially cocktails with sugary mixers, carry a pretty heavy calorie burden.  If you do want to drink, the best is to stick with wine, beer or liquor with low calorie mixers like club soda or with Fever Tree Light Tonic Water.  You will also want to follow the recommended guidelines, which is no more than 2 drinks for women and 3 for men.  For a refresher on what a drink is that’s a 5oz glass of wine, 12 oz glass of beer or 1.5 oz shot of liquor.  To set a good pace and prevent a hangover, have 1-2 glasses of water or seltzer for ever alcoholic drink.

So now some good news for reassurance…

Even if you don’t follow any of my recommendations, it’s actually quite hard to gain that much weight from one day of less than stellar eating.  To gain 1 lb you need to consume approximately 3,000 calories over your normal intake of between 1,200-2500 calories. So even if do manage to consume more than 3,000 at the meal you most likely won’t net 3,000 over your normal consumption.  Also the largest contributor to perceived holiday weight is actually water retention.  This is due high sodium foods and carbohydrates.  The extra carbohydrates are stored as glycogen, which binds to 4 molecules of water contributing to the additional “weight.”  So bottom line, relax and get back to healthy eating tomorrow.  You’re doing great!

Want to start losing weight without deprivation? Then schedule a naturopathic appointment with Dr Ivy.