Friday, November 22, 2013

Tips to Avoid Over-Consuming on Turkey Day!

People often think of Thanksgiving as an excuse to over-consume food and eat whatever you want. Yes, I do agree Thanksgiving is a time of year where there are special foods available, but I completely disagree with the fact that you need to gorge yourself in order to feel satisfied. In fact, you’ll probably feel lethargic, stuffed, and pretty gross after all is said and done. If you are at risk for heart disease, studies have shown that after just one meal high in saturated fat (think fried or cheese-based appetizers, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pie, egg nog), the inner lining of the blood vessel walls have a reduced ability to expand, and the HDL’s are impaired leading to increased inflammation, and other metabolic markers are hampered 123. Thus, the risk of a heart attack would be higher after eating a rich meal than after eating one full of veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains. Here are my tips for having a healthy Thanksgiving:

  1. Do at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio on Thanksgiving and also go for at least a 10-minute walk after your big meal. Walking afterwards will help your body soak up the extra glucose circulating around, which will decrease the risk for cell damage.
  2. During appetizers, load up on veggies and shrimp cocktail instead of cheese or fat-laden foods.
  3. Limit your alcohol intake. Each shot of liquor has around 100 calories, 8 oz of wine has 200, 12 oz of beer can vary between 95-200 depending on the ABV% (higher alcohol= higher calories). Watch the eggnog; it is calorie dense and artery-clogging enough as it is, but adding in rum will only work to increase the calorie load. Drink seltzer or club instead of alcohol, or at least in between drinks- they are carbonated, and thus filling, but contain no calories.
  4.  Cook at least one healthy vegetable-based side dish to bring to the feast. You can load up on those healthy veggies and keep your portions of all the other not-so-healthy foods small.
  5. Check out the calorie counts below for the average Thanksgiving dinner. Note that traditional stuffing is one of the worst foods in term of calories and fat content. Again, stick to vegetable-based foods.
  6. Skip “everyday” foods, unless they are non-starchy vegetables! You know what bread tastes like, so no need to add that to your calorie and carb intake for the day. Same goes for wine and most alcohols ;-)
  7. The crust is the worst part for you- skip the crust of pies and eat the inside (apple and pumpkin aren’t actually all that bad for you). The crust is primarily saturated fat with some (unhealthy) carbs. But cutting the crust off your slice of pie, you will be saving at least 100 calories! Also, don't add on anything else to that already decadent pecan pie. A small scoop of ice cream can contribute over 150 calories and more saturated fat.
  8. Think before you eat! Ask yourself if eating something is really going to add to your enjoyment for the day. Next, ask yourself how much of a food is needed to fulfill your craving.
  9. Take your time eating! Chew more often and slowly- people who do this tend to eat less and are healthier! Be the talker at the table so that you can’t be stuffing your face during the whole meal.
  10.  If you happen to eat more than anticipated, don’t beat yourself up. One day of overeating isn’t going to pack on pounds… but doing it on a weekly or daily basis certainly will ;-)
1.J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Aug 15;48(4):715-20. Epub 2006 Jul 24.
2. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Jun;69(6):1135-43.
3. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Mar;77(3):605-11.

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