Thanksgiving Feast: Portion Distortion

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I know people start to salivate by just the thought of all the tasty treats this holiday has to offer! I’m sure you thought the same thing just looking at this plate of food on my blog. This year, lets make it a goal to “enjoy the feast, without turning into a beast!”

Portion control is the biggest problem on this holiday. Many people skip breakfast and “fast” all day, so that they will be sooo hungry for the Turkey feast and much more likely to overeat later. When I say, “overeat,” I mean eating the equivalent of 3-4 meals in one sitting. This is the wrong approach and let me tell you why…

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it breaks the overnight fast, gets your metabolism up and moving and provides cognitive benefits such as heightened mental acuity and focus. So, don’t indulge in a HUGE breakfast, but just make it something light on this holiday. For example, try 1-cup fresh blueberries, chopped strawberries, and raspberries topped with ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of Kashi high fiber cereal and some slivered almonds. This will give you some nutrients, fiber and energy, but not make you feel too full.

Also, try to incorporate some exercise in the morning! Go on a brisk walk, jog or get involved in an event like the “Turkey Trot” (we have a race every year in the Dana Point, CA harbor that you can run and the money goes to charity- it’s great!) or “Turkey bowl” (flag football or regular football the men usually play with friends on this holiday) or play tennis with a friend or your family. The exercise will get your metabolism up and make it work more efficiently, burning more calories, which leaves you a little more room for that delicious dessert – a slice of pumpkin pie or berry cobbler. YUM!

Here are some tips this Thanksgiving holiday:

  • Eat a light breakfast
  • Get your workout in! (Even if it’s only 20-30 minutes)
  • Snack on vegetables and hummus, raw unsalted nuts or grapes and lowfat cheese to hold you over until the evening meal
  • Try sautéed spinach or onions instead of creamed
  • Try mashed potatoes with the skin for added fiber
  • Try sweet potatoes with walnuts or pecans sprinkled on top and a touch of brown sugar instead of butter and marshmallows
  • Try steamed green beans with lemon and dill
  • Make your stuffing fresh and add chopped celery, apples and raisins for flavor instead of the boxed stuffing brand (which usually turns out dry)
  • Try making cornbread with real corn chunks instead of the processed baking (pre made) mix
  • Cut the fat away from the turkey and eat more white meat instead of dark meat if possible
  • The skin of the turkey is high in fat and best to avoid, but if it’s your favorite, you can indulge a little—only for the holiday right?
  • Use a blend of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour for the crust of your pumpkin pie
  • When the feast begins, PACE YOURSELF…It’s not a race
  • Control your portions! (This is actually the hardest part for most people)
  • Take small samplings of a wide variety of dishes to get more nutrients and add more “color” to your place
  • Avoid an “all white plate” (for example, mashed potatoes, turkey, and cornbread)—add color with sweet potatoes, spinach, peas, green beans, cranberry, a side salad, etc.
  • Stop yourself before you feel too full
  • Eat slowly and let your body signal, “I’m full.” Because if you don’t, you may have eaten 2-3 more servings of your favorite buttered mashed potatoes and gravy or stuffing — loading another 300+ calories.
  • Focus on family, and not just the food.
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving as it was intended, as a special time to spend with family and friends and to be thankful for your blessings.
  • Indulge smartly on occasion without suffering a major setback.
  • And guess what…? If you do overdo it, develop a “day-after plan” before you go to sleep. Decide on a light yet nourishing breakfast, a brisk workout, and a renewed outlook on life to get you back on tract.
  • Remember: It’s only ONE day out of the year so enjoy it (in moderation)!! There will be leftovers the next day or the next few days

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Enjoy and reflect upon your blessings!

Make an appointment with me, Courtney Walberg, Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer to learn more about your specific nutrition and fitness needs! Thanks!