5 Strategies to Avoid Overeating at Thanksgiving
By DR. CAROLINE CEDERQUIST
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and for most of us the holiday is marked by time spent with family and extreme overeating. Studies have shown that Americans eat 3,000 to 3,500 calories during Thanksgiving dinner! Big, abundant, sit-down dinners are likely to make their way into the schedule of even the most harried and hurried among us.
Thanksgiving is a day when many of us feel the need to break all the rules and give way to indulgence, but it's possible to enjoy the feast without ruining a week's worth of healthy eating. Before stepping up to the table, keep in mind these easy and effective healthy-eating tips.
It's All About Attitude
Perhaps the most important attitude adjustment to make is to be sure that you're not thinking of yourself as a person who is trying to lose weight or avoid junk. If you're trying to eat better and get healthy, then think of yourself as a person who eats well and makes healthy choices.
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Also be sure to prep yourself for ways you to overcome your indulgences. Think of what motivates you to be eating better and getting healthy to begin with, and only focus on the sweet treats or "cheats" that are your favorites. It's OK to indulge -- as long as you're smart about it.
Stick With Tradition, But Give It a Makeover
People tend to overeat at Thanksgiving dinner because they don't want to give up their favorite foods. But there are healthier alternatives to traditional dishes that will leave you feeling satisfied and help you avoid the temptation to overeat. If you have a favorite family recipe, try swapping in healthier ingredients to make it a bit cleaner -- every little bit goes a long way.
Chew Slowly and Savor Bites
When you're faced with that big sit-down meal, stop before you get so full that you're uncomfortable. Sure, the food is delicious and evokes all sorts of wonderful nostalgia, but you don't need to overeat to enjoy the memories. Chew slowly, savor each bite and really appreciate those special dishes. It's a much better way to enjoy them than doing the "stuff and suffer."
Plan Your Plate Attack
Before mindlessly piling your plate with food, take a look at the table and make a plan. Load up on veggies first to take up the most space on the plate. Add the items you love, but get smaller portions of what you know isn't healthy.
[Read More: Tips to Stay Fit Over the Holidays]
Fill your plate with the healthier foods. Limit the amount of starches and go for more lean meats or vegetables instead. Ask for small servings or serve yourself small portions to start with. Then if you're truly still hungry after the first round, go back for more. That way you still have room for seconds of the really delectable dishes.
Savor the Spread
If you're the host, one trick to help slow the overeating at your holiday party is to serve the meal buffet-style rather than putting all the food on the dining table. Repeated studies have shown that if food is within arm's reach, more will be eaten. If you and your guests have to get up to grab seconds, less food will be consumed overall.
Readers -- Do you try to eat healthy over the holidays? How do you keep yourself from overindulging? Do you cook healthier versions of traditional favorites or do you prefer taking smaller portions of "the real thing"? Leave a comment below and let us know how you survive the holidays!
Caroline Cederquist, M.D., has dedicated her professional career to healthy weight loss and management. She shares nearly two decades' worth of knowledge and treatment for weight loss, primarily focused on correcting metabolism dysfunction, in her new book, The MD Factor Diet, which breaks down the difficulties behind losing weight and reversing metabolic dysfunction.
If you need more guidance in losing weight, have any signs of metabolic dysfunction that were discussed or want a further breakdown of how to improve your metabolism, The MD Factor Diet is available for pre-order purchase on Amazon.com and will be available in stores in January 2015.