The countdown for Thanksgiving is on, and chances are, we’ve all got food on the brain. After all, baked goodies and comfort carbs are hallmark holiday traditions, but they often come at the expense of our waistlines.
So, in response to Turkey Day’s delectable yet potentially “diet derailing” fare, follow these pointers for mindful — and enjoyable! — eating:
1. Don’t deprive yourself by skipping the pre-Thanksgiving meals.
Count on this rookie mistake to backfire when you face a smorgasbord of tempting morsels, while that empty stomach begs for relief. Hunger pangs increase the appetite, inevitably causing overindulgence. So, rather than restricting your intake altogether, choose light yet satisfying options for breakfast and lunch. For example, oatmeal topped with fresh fruit is both a hearty and healthy start to the morning, and a green salad loaded with colorful vegetables is an ideal afternoon pick-me-up.
2. When the feasting begins, allocate small amounts of each dish.
An average portion size equals the size of your fist, so apply this guideline when charging through the buffet line. Resist the urge to pile your plate with every delicacy within reach. Sure, you can’t wait to sample the entire spread, but a few bites of each tasty tidbit should suffice. View this meal as a marathon, — not a sprint — so pace that ravenous appetite. And, remember: dinner isn’t the only course.
3. Fill the majority of your plate with veggies and eat them first.
Before digging into that fluffy cornbread, caramelized yams or quintessential butterball, consume those often overlooked side dishes — green beans, squash, beets and, of course, the relish tray. Starting your meal with nutrient-dense vegetables will curb initial cravings. So, rather than inhaling the carbs, sugars, fats and high-caloric items, you might just manage a few cursory nibbles.
4. During the meal, chew slowly and pause between mouthfuls.
Don’t devour the deliciousness in such record time that you barely taste any flavor. Instead, savor these traditional comfort foods and allow the familiar aromas, seasonings and textures to fill you with nostalgia. Instead of letting the entire meal revolve around your taste buds, actively engage in table conversations and create memories with loved ones. Also, deliberately set your utensils down after swallowing each bite and take a break before resuming the graze-fest.
5. Unless you’re still HUNGRY, avoid sneaking back for seconds.
Practice self-restraint by repeating the following mantra in your head: “I’m saving room for dessert. I’m saving room for dessert. I’m saving room for dessert…” This will motivate you to fight temptation until it subsides. Meanwhile, stay occupied between courses by leaving the table and participating in a physical activity to jumpstart digestion, prevent further pitfalls and burn post-dinner calories. Take a brisk nature walk, organize a touch football scrimmage, recruit some friends for an abridged Turkey Trot, or even volunteer to wash dishes.
6. Don’t deny the dessert cravings, but limit yourself to a sliver.
Pumpkin, pecan, apple, sweet potato…Oh, the cruelty of choosing just one! But, in the seasonal spirit of gratitude, give thanks for will-power. Here’s another instance where portion control becomes key. There’s no reason to dodge the dessert station altogether — just don’t reach a level of physical discomfort. Experience a few spoonfuls of your favorite treat, then back away once that sweet tooth is satisfied.
Finally, consider this promising prospect: food-centric holidays mean leftovers for the whole week ahead!