Thanksgiving is America 's universal holiday. It cuts across all creeds and ethnic groups.The day is a great time to socialize with family and friends, expressing gratitude to a higher power.
Unfortunately for the 2/3 of us who are overweight, it's also the start of the holiday feasting season where many of us consume a dinner of 2,000-3,000 calories followed by a week of rich leftovers. During the holiday weekend Americans typically gain 1-3 pounds that stubbornly refuse to come off.
Here are some suggestions that will not deprive you of any enjoyment, but will put a smile on your face when the holidays are over and you've returned to a New Year's resolution of losing weight. These tips apply equally for Christmas dinner so keep them handy. Over the holiday season you should be realistic. Your goal is not to lose weight but to avoid gaining any.
Don't starve yourself until dinner. Have a breakfast that is high in fiber like a whole grain cereal that will keep you full. Make time for exercise before sitting down for the feast,
even if it's only tossing a football around the yard with the kids. Prolonged aerobic activity releases the hormones, ghrelin and peptide YY which can help suppress the appetite .
The social pressure to over indulge can be immense, so it's useful to find a partner who will similarly restrict his or her food intake. Remember, you're not looking for deprivation here, just moderation. If you wear a tight fitting outfit, it will remind you to not overeat.
There are two principles to keep in mind here, making the right food choices and exercising portion control. Select what you truly enjoy. Eat slowly and savor every bite. If you're a guest, don't forget to praise your host effusively so that your self-control doesn't get mistaken for disapproval.
Let's begin: When it comes to the appetizers, graze, favoring fruits or vegetables over the bacon wrapped shrimp.
Choose your salad dressing carefully. Two tablespoons of buttermilk ranch dressing yield 180 calories. Two tablespoons of Honey Mustard Dressing have 70 calories. A fat free raspberry vinaigrette will run only 30.
Evan Sandler makes his own dressing with extra virgin olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, and a dash of Dijon mustard.
"Sometimes I add chopped shallots. Not only is it less expensive, the fresh ingredients taste better," he said.
Instead of a generous helping of 7-8 ounces of white and dark meat turkey with skin, cut the serving in half, to about the size of your palm, a half inch thick. Use gravy to moisten, not flood.
Whenever possible if you're doing the cooking, start from scratch. It's amazing how much salt is added to prepared foods like gravy. By doing it yourself, you can cut down on sodium, a major cause of high blood pressure. By cooking your own dinner you can substitute healthy fats like olive oil for butter which is laden in saturated fat and will drive up your cholesterol.
Stuffing (or dressing in some parts of the country) can be a source of empty calories if white flour is the primary ingredient. I make mine with whole multi-grain bread, a chopped apple, raisins and walnuts all cooked inside the bird.
Forgo the sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows even if your Aunt Bess used to make it. Marshmallows are made of corn syrup, sugar, vanilla and gelatin, offering absolutely no nutritional benefit. Most sweet potato casserole recipes not only add butter to the sweet potatoes but brown sugar. A typical serving can run 600 calories.
By themselves a single, baked, sweet potato will give you far more than your daily dose of vitamin A, and most of your vitamin C. Baked in the skin, sprinkled with cinnamon smeared with a pat of butter, a sweet potato will cost you 215 calories. They are delicious served this way. Better yet, use olive oil or Smart Balance, a butter substitute that has no hydrogenated or saturated fats.
If green beans are a favorite, lightly steam them, then sauté them in olive oil and garlic. By preparing them this way, instead of baking them in a mushroom soup drenched, onion ring topped casserole, you'll cut your calories per ½ cup serving from 225 to 50.
Here's delicious recipe for oven roasted Brussels Sprouts that runs only 135 calories.
If you're making mashed potatoes, add flavor with garlic, cutting back on the added fat. I prefer to mash real baked potatoes and leave them chunky which offers better mouth feel than an instant mix.
A single cup of eggnog with 2 ounces of either rum or brandy will run 470 calories! If you swap the eggnog for the same amount of Sauvignon Blanc, a good pairing with turkey, it will be only 241 calories. Petite Sirah is a tasty red option to accompany the bird. It's a bit richer at 253 calories, but red wine offers more antioxidants than white. Remember that drinking relaxes inhibitions, so consume alcohol moderately to keep your eating plan on track.
Don't swear off dessert, but know the calorie counts. A slice of pecan pie has 452 calories, apple pie 277, pumpkin pie 229. If you want to go à la mode you can slice a third off your vanilla ice cream calorie count, by going with light instead of regular, 150 per scoop vs. 100.
When you feel satisfied, finish the meal with a glass of water, push off from the table, then go for a walk. If you can stroll instead of waddle, you know that your mission has been accomplished.
I wish everybody who reads this the healthiest, happiest Thanksgiving possible.
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This Month's Health Recipe:
Brussels Sprouts are very healthy, rich in vitamin C and soluble fiber with many other nutrients and phytochemicals that have proven anti-cancer properties.
I have to admit that until recently, Brussels Sprouts were my least favorite vegetable. Then I ate sprouts prepared according to this recipe by Carolisa Pomerantz. It's simple to make and tastes delicious.
To see how one baby boomer is applying anti-aging precepts to his own life, go to Anti-AgingDiary.com. To embrace anti-aging you need to make a mental as well as physical journey. It's not always easy, but well worth the effort. Remember to watch our anti-aging documentary, “Reverse Aging Now.
Reverse Aging News c. 2011 Checkmate Pictures - Paul M. J. Suchecki, Editor. Photo of Turkey by David Lat
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