Maintaining a healthy diet on Thanksgiving

The holidays can be a difficult time to maintain a healthy diet because most of the parties and social gatherings revolve around food. Obviously these gatherings are a little more elaborate and therefore the food tends to be more elaborate and excessive; snacks, appetizers, main meal, dessert and drinks. All of these things can lead to holiday weight gain, which statistics show is rarely lost after the holidays. Here are some survival tips to help you avoid the holiday weight gain.

• Avoid starting a new diet around the holidays. Dieting during the holidays makes you feel restricted and frustrated when you attend holiday meals. Rather than diet, focus on eating “better for you” foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Aim to maintain your weight during the holidays.

• Don’t skip meals before the “big meal.” Skipping meals will likely lead to over-eating at the next meal due to being extremely hungry. Make sure to eat your normal breakfast and if the main meal is being served late afternoon, have a small healthy snack before heading out to the party.

• Make a plan, but be realistic. Be sure to enjoy yourself and have a treat or two during the holiday meal, just don’t over-do it. That way, you are able to have a taste of your holiday favorites without setting yourself up to fail by being over-restrictive.

• Avoid excess snacking and alcohol before the meal. Appetizers and alcohol can provide many additional calories that we don’t necessarily realize. Go for a small serving of your favorite appetizer on the table, and alternate an alcoholic drink with water or seltzer every other time.

• Portions are important. You can save hundreds, maybe even thousands of calories if you just decrease your portions! Try using a smaller plate and taking a small helping of each food. You will get to try everything and your plate will look full. You will most likely be satisfied afterwards without being too full.

• Eat slowly. Try to focus more on the conversation than the meal itself. Chances are that you will be surrounded by family and close friends that you don’t see often so enjoy the good company!

• Leave the table, or at least clear it off. Many of us will sit around the table for hours with the food/dessert/snacks still on it. This can lead to mindless eating while we sit around and talk with our friends and family. If you remove yourself from sitting in front of the food, or at least remove the food from your conversation area, you will likely eat less because it will be out of sight.

• If you can go without it, leave it! Why spend extra calories on something you don’t really like or can have any other day of the week, for example dinner roll and butter? Save your calories for something else or just omit it all together.

• Learn to say no thanks! The host or hostess may try dishing out second helpings so they don’t end up with lots of leftovers. If you are full, politely say that everything was delicious and “no thank you”!

If you are interested in learning more about nutrition counseling sessions with a registered dietitian at Noble Hospital, please call 413-568-2811 ex: 5671 for more information.

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