The best time of the year is upon us again.
The holidays mean time for family, festivities… and food. Lots of it.
But before you break out another pair of stretchy pants and mindlessly give in to temptation—or perhaps boycott the festivities altogether in an attempt to save your waistline—follow this simple guide instead.
Because the truth is, you don’t have to sacrifice your health (or your hunger) to enjoy your Thanksgiving. You can have your turkey and eat it too—literally.
“A-List Approved” survival tips
DON’T come to the table starving. This advice is as basic as it comes. Excessive hunger leads to poor food choices and excessive portions. This is a holiday (and every day) mantra among dieters everywhere. Make it yours, too.
DO eat a high protein meal earlier in the day. You can’t go wrong with eggs for breakfast—the fat and protein will ward off hunger and keep you fuller throughout the day. And then, especially if you’ll be eating your Thanksgiving dinner later in the day, I recommend having something for lunch too—like a refreshing, satisfying protein shake.
(This is the perfect strategy to fall back on during the holidays, when even the most disciplined dieters can find themselves surrendering to temptation.)
DON’T clean your dinner plate. Not eating the last five bites can save you an average of 250 calories per meal. That adds up to about 26 pounds per year. (And that’s if you only do it at dinner! Just imagine if you did this at every meal…)
DO start with salad. Researchers have found that people who eat a salad before their main course consume 20 percent less and feel more satiated than people who don’t. If salad isn’t featured in your Thanksgiving spread, opt for a heaping portion of vegetables.
DON’T have wine with your meal. Not even red wine—because that healthy resveratrol comes with a hefty serving of sugar. But this doesn’t mean you can’t have a couple of celebratory drinks. (And I do mean a couple—as in, cut yourself off after two.)
Spirits and sugar-free mixers are the way to go here. Think vodka and club soda with a twist of lime, or a dirty martini without the vermouth.
DO drink plenty of water. Sounds like another no-brainer, but this is something many people forget to do during special occasions. And it’s one of the simplest things you can do to keep from overeating (plus it actually stimulates your metabolism).
Here’s an easy way to make sure you get enough: Always have a full glass in hand throughout the day, and take a sip every few minutes. You’ll reach your quota before dinner even comes out of the oven.
DON’T take a post-meal nap. Although it can be tempting (especially after eating turkey), sprawling out on the couch for a long snooze isn’t the best way to recuperate and “let your food digest.”
In fact, people who take long naps have a significantly higher risk of diabetes. Specifically, people who sleep for more than an hour during the day are 46 percent more likely to develop diabetes.
DO take a post-meal walk. Time and again, research has shown that an after-dinner walk is one of your most effective strategies for controlling blood sugar—blunting the highest and longest spike you’re likely to have in any given 24-hour period. In other words, you really can’t afford not to take that stroll once the Thanksgiving table is cleared.
Diabetologia. “Excessive daytime sleepiness, long naps linked to increased diabetes risk.” ScienceDaily, 18 September 2015.