It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is just two days away, and the time spent relaxing with family and friends throughout the holidays can also mean an unwanted weight gain. But it doesn’t have to! It may seem impossible to resist our seasonal favorites, but there is a way to enjoy your holiday meals and still keep the weight off. Follow these simple tips and tricks to make staying healthy a bit easier this holiday season.
- Pick protein. Protein is important for muscle growth, and helps us feel fuller longer. Load up on protein rich foods at the dinner table like turkey, roasted chicken, lentils, and quinoa to help you feel satisfied longer and avoid overeating.
- Avoid skipping meals. Skipping breakfast or lunch before a big holiday meal in order to “save” your appetite may result in binge eating later. Try to eat a protein-rich breakfast or lunch to avoid over-indulging at dinner.
- Fill your plate with fiber. Snacking on vegetables and other high-fiber items like legumes can help keep us fuller longer. Give the vegetable platter a chance – with a healthy dip.
- Make room for healthy fats. Limiting butter and oil can be a great way to cut calories, but not all fats are bad. Add healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet from foods like avocados, nuts, and olive oil in baked goods, on veggies, or in homemade dressings. Here’s a plus: Combining fat with fiber like dipping veggies in guacamole has been shown to increase fat’s power to make us feel full.
- Ditch added sugar. Holiday cookies, cakes, and pies are always tempting, but all the added sugar increases calories and can lead to the unwanted weight gain. Instead, stick to sugar that comes in its natural form (fruits, veggies, and whole grains), and try small tastes of the desserts you’re truly craving rather than loading up a full plate of bland cookies.
- Wait before serving up seconds. The quicker we eat a meal, the less time we give our bodies to recognize feeling full. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register being full, so try getting up from the table and walking or sitting down and chatting with friends for a bit before grabbing seconds.
- Chew gum. Chewing a 5-calorie stick of gum can keep the mouth busy whether you’re in the kitchen cooking or socializing with appetizers and snacks nearby. While the long-term effects of gum chewing on weight loss are minimal, studies show it can lower cravings for sweet and salty snacks, and decrease hunger between meals
- Beware of booze. Not only does alcohol add unnecessary calories to your diet, but drinking too much champagne, eggnog, wine, beer, etc. can make us lose our inhibitions around food and start eating irresponsibly.
- Drink water before and during your meal. Drinking a glass of water with a meal has been linked with more weight loss than cutting calories alone. Drink a little water before a meal and between bites to give the brain time to register fullness.
- Move it and lose it! Moving doesn’t just mean going to the gym. Make a conscious decision to get more steps into your day by taking the stairs or parking the car far away from the grocery store entrance. Before curling up around the fire, get the family members together for a brisk walk around the neighborhood.
Guest Author: Chelsea Hoover, Drexel University Dietetic Intern