Many of you have made comments about my husband’s noticeable weight loss that has occurred this year. He has lost over 50 lbs since May! While I have been been putting on the baby weight, he has been focusing on his health in a major way and has lost more weight than our four year old weighs!
One of the things that Dave has really changed has been how he eats. Going from someone who drank a lot of Dr. Pepper everyday to someone who loves to stay home and make delicious, healthy food is a pretty huge transformation itself!
He recently started a blog called Run.Eat.Poop.Repeat. where he is documenting his experience as he continues to strive to live a healthy lifestyle. He offered to share some of his tips to eating healthy during the holiday season for all of you! Although he hasn’t experienced a Thanksgiving or Christmas with his new, healthy lifestyle, he has endured anniversaries, birthdays, etc throughout the year that he has really learned from. If you are interested in following along with his journey and getting more tips, you can follow his blog. He would LOVE the support!
Here are his 5 Simple Tips for Eating Healthy this Holiday Season:
I remember the first time I brought my wife to my extended family’s Thanksgiving. My grandpa finished his meal, stood up from the table, walked into the living room (which was adjacent to the dining room) undid his pants’ button, and promptly laid down in the middle of the floor for a good hour. To be sure, he earned it. I mean, this is the same grandpa who, every Thanksgiving, makes the comment, “I only like two kinds of pie: hot and cold!” as he fills up his plate with at least four slices of crumbly desserts.
Normally, I’d follow suit, filling up my plate with a little bit of everything too. You know what they say about the apple and the tree! But this year is different, for me, at least. Over the last six months, I lost over 50 pounds by drastically reforming my diet. I now mostly eat unprocessed, whole foods. But even I know that there are times like Thanksgiving when it is okay (and almost expected of us) to indulge.
Knowing this, I’ve been preparing for the holiday season and the loads of deliciously unhealthy foods it brings with it (eggnog, anyone?) so that I can enjoy moments of celebration without ending up on the floor, my pants undone to make room for the bloat (and guilt) that often accompany big meals. If, like me, you want to eat healthy at Thanksgiving without feeling confined to the vegetable tray, then you might consider these five simple strategies I plan on using to eat healthy at Thanksgiving dinner.
Eat a healthy snack shortly before the actual dinner begins. Nothing fancy here. Perhaps a small plate of vegetables or some fruit and yogurt with a glass of water an hour before go-time. I know me well. If I “save my appetite” for when a buffet of sweet and savory dishes is set out before me, I’ll be so hungry, I’ll overeat. This year, I plan on coming to the table mildly full so that I can choose to eat the foods that appeal to me without feeling the need to prepare for a yearlong famine.
Fill your plate with meat and vegetables first. Preventing another year of overeating will be made easier if I start with food that will satiate my appetite. Jello salad and chocolate dipped strawberries aren’t them. This part of the meal is all about protein and fiber. As a good rule of thumb, I plan on filling one-third of my plate with some sort of meat and the remaining two-thirds with healthier vegetables. This isn’t designed to be some sort of punishment. It’s more of a healthy head start towards sensible eating.
Wait at least 5-minutes before dishing up desserts. I’ve read in a number of places that your body takes so long to register that it is full. This strategy has little to do with that. Rather, this 5-minutes of wait time is for you to consciously decide which desserts, if any, you want to enjoy (notice I did say enjoy). One habit that I am currently working on changing is my gut-reaction to sweets. I’m now at a point where I don’t eat them as often as I used to. One way I did that is instituting a period of waiting as a form of impulse control. When you see that pumpkin pie, candied yam, German chocolate cake, or what have you, quietly tell yourself to wait 5-minutes. If, after those 300-seconds are up and you still want the dessert, have at it. It’s no longer a spur-of-the-moment indulgence. Instead, it is you controlling what you put into your body, which is a win no matter how you look at it.
Drink mostly water. Notice I didn’t say only water. If I’m being honest here, I’ll be the first in line if anyone shows up with some eggnog. You can bet that I’m pouring myself a cup! But I’m definitely going to start my meal with water and have plenty of it. One benefit to this strategy is that it ensures that most of the calories you consume are from actual foods. But another benefit is that drinking water fills you up. I’m not encouraging anyone to fill their stomach with water to avoid eating too many calories (counting calories can suck it!). And that’s just not smart. Often, being thirsty can mask itself with the same feelings of being hungry. Only, your body needs water, not food. Drinking enough water at the dinner table will ensure that you don’t overeat and under-hydrate, a bad combination that leaves you still feeling hungry.
Mentally prepare yourself for dinner. If these strategies were in order of importance, this one would be first. To emphasize it’s importance here, I saved it for last. Starting now, think about all the foods and drinks that might be served for Thanksgiving dinner (Bonus, call the cook and ask what the menu includes). Decide whether there are any foods or drinks that you just won’t eat because of the physical, emotional, or psychological consequences those foods or drinks bring with them. Make a mental plan for what you will do when they get passed around to you. As for me, I won’t allow myself to drink soda or any type of drink that has sugary soda as an ingredient (that’s not to say I won’t be tempted). If/when I encounter a cooler full of Dr. Pepper, or a punch bowl filled with that 7-Up/Sherbet concoction you tend to see at family gatherings, I’ll go straight for my water instead. This is a personal decision based on how my body and mind feels since giving up soda last May. Your “off limits” food or drink might be something entirely different. Regardless of what it is, deciding how you will respond to it now rather than in the moment is a big proactive step in the right direction.
Whether you rely on some of these strategies to help you navigate a holiday feast or not, the important thing to understand is that food is not the enemy of good health. Quite the opposite actually. Unfortunately, we sometimes pay too much attention to what food does to us instead of focusing on how we can be in control of food.
Thanksgiving, along with the rest of the holiday season is a time to enjoy the company of friends and family. At least in Western culture, enjoying large amounts of delicious food plays a central role in our holiday traditions. Don’t let what you do and don’t eat distract you from the time you have with those whom you choose to surround yourself. At the same time, know that you can still be in control of how you choose to celebrate when it comes to the food you put into your body. What other strategies would you add to this list? How do make sure you enjoy holiday meals without going overboard?