The first thing I am going to suggest is that if you are healthy and not succumbing to the numerous bugs surrounding you, find some way to move your body to counteract the extra calories you may be ingesting. Go for a walk, take a hike, pop in an exercise video, take an exercise class, run, swim, bike--whatever you can fit into your busy schedule will counteract a little of the seemingly inevitable extra calories.
Now if you are sick, you will just need to be more careful with what you are eating. You have to listen to your body when you are not feeling well and rest up until you begin to feel more like yourself. No exercise+Overeating=Extra pounds, guaranteed! So be careful! It is the small things that can make the difference. Use chicken stock instead of butter to flavor your mashed potatoes; add pumpkin or applesauce to your baked goods to replace some of the fat and oil the recipe calls for; skip smothering your food in gravy; or just eat smaller portions of the food you love.
My goal for this season is to maintain the progress I have made and not focus on losing weight, not even the five pounds I have gained since Ironman. I find that this goal allows me to enjoy the season without going crazy. I found this great Livestrong article that offers some great ideas for how we can minimize the impact of our holiday eating: 12 Holiday Feast Mistakes That Make You Gain Weight
As shared in this article by August McLaughlin, the average holiday meal will cost us about 3000 calories, and I am willing to bet this is conservative for what what is served at most Thanksgiving feasts. Here is a quick run-down of the 12 Mistakes, but click on the above link for more details:
- Try not to trick yourself into treating every meal as a celebration. It is this attitude that allow us to let down our guards and eat without thought to the consequences.
- Use smaller plates--I know this sounds crazy, but it really works. Psychologically if there is empty space I like to fill it up. Even paper dinner plates come in smaller and larger versions--be mindful of this when planning your tablescape.
- Sit father away from the food and you will eat less. I have never tried this suggestion, but I do know that I have been nibbling more than usual. If the food was farther away maybe I would not make the effort to move to get it.
- Make sure your daily intake of fiber reaches the 25-30 gram recommendation each day. You can do this by serving whole wheat rolls, making sweet potatoes instead of mashed, and how about adding an extra vegetable like kale to the dishes you serve? The Garlic Roasted Kale (#15 of the 23 recipes) looks delicious! 23 Kale Recipes from Cooking Light
- Leave the extra butter off of items like bread and potatoes and you will be happy you did. Two tablespoons of butter alone will add over 200 calories to your meal and greatly increase your saturated fat intake.
- Remember that just because something is a fruit or a vegetable does not mean it is healthy...watch for added fat, sugar, and artificial ingredients.
- Be mindful of the holiday sauces. Gravy, hollandaise, and cheese sauce can really add unnecessary fat and calories to otherwise healthy foods. If you must have sauces, this article suggests dipping your food in the sauces instead of pouring the sauce over the top. My suggestion is to dip the fork in the sauce before spearing your food. This will allow you to have the taste of the sauce without the excessive amount of calories. This is a trick I use when eating salad as well--order the dressing on the side and then dip your fork in the dressing before grabbing your greens.
- Minimize the toppings you add like marshmallows, whipped creams, and crusts. You can save a few calories by eating your food naked. Try crust-less pumpkin pies like the one in this Hungry Girl blog, but remember to also watch the artificial sweeteners when you can: Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes from Hungry Girl
- Try and fill up on healthy food so you do not load up on desserts instead. And if you do indulge in dessert, take a small slice or a few bites of each dessert offered to you. Don't be afraid to say no if you want to. You should never be afraid to hurt someone's feelings by just telling the hostess you are full.
- If you do have a bad day, don't punish yourself by just giving up on your healthy eating altogether. Remember that each meal and each day can be considered a do-over. You don't have to be perfect, you just need to be smart. We all have bad days...we just need to move on from them and get right back on track.
- Don't drink your calories. Drinking alcoholic beverages also makes it less likely that you will choose healthier foods. How many times have you had a beer or glass of wine and thought, "Man, I am really craving a salad right now." Never for me. After drinking alcohol I tend to then want chicken wings, chips and salsa, or some other unhealthy food. And this rule doesn't just apply to spirits. Instead of drinking juices or full sugar sodas, it is better to eat whole fruits and to choose waters and teas when you are thirsty.
- The final suggestion is to minimize the stress in your life, which is almost impossible at this time of year. However, stressing about overeating and your weight just adds to the pressure that this time of year brings. That's why I am choosing to just be careful right now. Be nice to yourself: you might want to get a pedicure or manicure, schedule a massage, and most certainly give yourself a break if you overeat a little.