It’s that time of year again. Time for family, festivities… and food. Lots of it.
It’s also the time of year when the average person balloons by eight to ten pounds. Now, that might not sound like much on the surface. But as I’ve warned you about before, the holiday yo-yo comes at a much higher price than you think.
Ultimately, a see-sawing scale can double your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and death.1 Not the kind of scenario anyone should be giving thanks for. And even if fluctuating weight weren’t so deadly, no one needs their diet derailed in the name of tradition.
Because the fact is, you don’t have to sacrifice your hard-earned results—or your health—in order to enjoy your Thanksgiving. You can have your turkey and eat it too—literally. And if you follow this simple roadmap, your scale won’t even register the difference…
Your “A-List Approved” Thanksgiving 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 if you’ll be eating your Thanksgiving dinner later in the day, I recommend having a protein shake for lunch, too. (Be sure to throw in a tablespoon of macadamia nut oil.)
This is the perfect strategy to fall back on during the holidays, when even the most disciplined dieters can find themselves surrendering to temptation. I’ll talk more about the importance of protein in just a moment. (To discover what type of protein shake works best for your personal Dieter Type, refer to Chapter 2 of my latest book, The A-List Diet.)
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—that is, not unless you want a hefty serving of sugar with your resveratrol. 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 a 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).
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.
For a more specific amount, you can also divide your weight by 2.2 to find out exactly how many ounces you should be drinking every day.
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.2
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.
Your fat-proofing secret this Thanksgiving
Of course, before you accuse me of painting this entire holiday as a potential disaster for your health, I must say—that’s actually not true. At least, it doesn’t have to be.
Many people refer to Thanksgiving as “Turkey Day,” obviously because the bird is the centerpiece. And assuming you keep that forefront in your mind this holiday season, you really can’t go wrong.
One of the most important takeaways I want you to remember this holiday season is the power of protein. As I mentioned earlier, eating protein helps fill you up quicker and keep you full for longer.
Not to mention, animal proteins like turkey contain all the essential amino acids you need to burn fat. In fact, when you eat protein you actually burn a lot of calories. (Your body uses about 25 percent of the protein calories you eat just for digestion purposes.)
And when you get enough protein, your body revs up its metabolism, helping you to get leaner muscles and quickly shed that unsightly visceral fat. (As for your daily intake, I suggest aiming to consume 0.7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.)
More importantly, protein can also help you resist less healthy foods.
Researchers from Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain recently examined protein’s role in driving food intake. For this study, researchers observed the eating habits of 22 lean adults over three four-day periods. Each participant was given a fixed menu that varied every day—with 10, 15, or 25 percent protein. They had open access to multiple additional foods during the day, and researchers tracked what they ate.
When participants were eating less than 15 percent protein, they tended to eat more carbohydrates and fatty foods. They also scored “high” on the researchers’ hunger scale.
The researchers believe that when protein and fat are restricted, there’s a natural tendency to keep eating to satisfy that hunger.
Needless to say, that’s the last thing you want when you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.
Protein also plays a key role in regulating your insulin response. So if you’ve got diabetes, prediabetes, or any sort of blood sugar disorder, it’s especially important to skip the candied yams and opt for more turkey instead (yes, even the dark meat).
Ideally, you should aim to structure your daily diet with 30 to 35 percent protein, 30 to 35 percent healthy fats, and the rest being vegetables with a small portion of fruit.
The bottom line? That holiday bird is A-List approved for a reason. So get the biggest one you can find at the store or farmers’ market. And if you’re wondering what you’re going to do with it all come November 23, I’ve included one of my most popular A-List Diet recipes. Simply check out the sidebar and enjoy my favorite way to put an easy and delicious spin on those Thanksgiving leftovers.
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
½ cup thinly sliced yellow onion
8 ounces turkey breast, cut into 1-inch slices
1 ½ teaspoons macadamia nut oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse sea salt, to taste
½ head green leaf lettuce, shredded
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for garnish
2 tablespoons sour cream, for garnish
2 tablespoons shredded Monterey Jack cheese, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
In a medium bowl, combine the bell pepper, onion, turkey, oil, and spices and toss until the turkey and vegetables are well coated.
Spread out the mixture into a small baking pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Divide the lettuce between two plates. Top each plate with half of the turkey mixture, avocado, sour cream, and Monterey Jack. Serve.
(This recipe can be found on page 221 of The A-List Diet.)
Check out Chapter 11 of my latest book, The A-List Diet, for over 100 healthy and delicious recipes—perfect for every holiday, and easy enough for every day.
To learn more about how the A-List can help you, simply visit www.AListDietBook.com.
- Bangalore S, et al. “Body Weight Fluctuations and Outcomes in Coronary Disease.” (2017). N Engl J Med. 2017 Apr 6;376(14):1332-1340. Retrieved from: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28691788/
- Diabetologia. “Excessive daytime sleepiness, long naps linked to increased diabetes risk.” ScienceDaily, 18 September 2015.