Thanksgiving survival guide

I like to give my patients simple tips for balancing their new healthy lifestyles with the challenges of everyday life. And we’re coming up on what might be the most challenging day of the whole year–Thanksgiving.

So today I’m going to share six easy things you can do to stay on track…and none of them involve hauling a suitcase full of Tupperware with “approved” foods to Grandma’s house.

  1. Eat eggs for breakfast. A study published in 2008 in the International Journal of Obesity showed that swapping your bagel for eggs could help you lose 16 percent more body fat, 34 percent more inches from around your waist, and up to 65 percent more weight overall. Granted these results were over an 8-week period, but in the short term, eggs will keep you fuller longer–and will lead to less eating throughout the day.
  2. Drink water. Sounds like a no-brainer, but this is something many people forget to do during special occasions.  But it’s one of the simplest things you can do to keep from overeating (plus it actually stimulates your metabolism). 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.
  3. Speak softly and carry a big fork. Yes, you read that right. This one surprised me too, but according to a study from the University of Utah published in July, using a large fork actually decreases the amount you eat by up to 10 percent.
  4. Start your meal with a 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 there’s no salad on your Thanksgiving spread, opt for a big plate of whatever veggies are there instead.
  5. Chew your food more. I know–this sounds like something your mother used to nag you about. But according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, if you chew each bite 40 times instead of the average 15, you may eat 12 percent less food.  Researchers found that chewing lowers your levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and raises your levels of CCK, the appetite-suppressing hormone. And eating 12 percent less food per year translates into a 25 pound weight loss.
  6. Leave some food on your 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).

That’s it. Six simple tips that will help you make it through the day without doing too much damage–no matter what’s on the spread. Enjoy!