Julia Child actually said that line, but I like it, and I LOVE Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday, because it’s not about anything but having a meal with people you care about.
Thanksgiving is also often the year’s biggest – and the richest – meal for most people. Think about it — even a standard Thanksgiving meal is rich, and “rich” is courteous foodie-speak for “loaded with fat and calories”:
• Turkey with plenty of gravy.
• Stuffing: nearly all recipes are rich with bread or rice and loaded with various fats.
• Potatoes (all colors): mashed, candied, marshmallowed, they get loads of butter and we love them.
• Vegetables and sides? They’re healthy, but on this day they come creamed, buttered, and casseroled, and serve as vehicles for calories, mostly fat ones.
• Desserts are a must. It’s not yes or no, but how many and how much of each?
Even if dessert is a must, weight gain doesn’t have to be. Read on.
Deposit Some Calories in the Bank
If you’ve been going to the same place for the holidays or having the day at your place you know the basics of what will be served. You know it’ll be a big meal. That’s OK, but plan ahead for it and put “bank” some calories by undereating for a few days before the Big Meal with these tips:
• Eat a lean, high-protein breakfast. Swap the fried egg and bacon sandwich for a couple of hard-cooked eggs, whole grain toast, and fresh fruit. Or go for 8-10 oz. (that’s 1 or 2 of those individual cups) of fat-free Greek yogurt and berries.
• Snacks? Keep them to fresh fruit or a small handful of nuts, or even some beef jerky (lots of protein there).
• “Sensible” lunch and dinner? That term always annoys me. (Who eats a “nonsense” meal?) Here’s what it means: eat smart, eat mindfully, eat deliberately. Keep added fats to a minimum, so skip anything deep-fried or that has gravy. Keep proteins lean (lean cuts of beef, chicken, fish), and load up on veggies – cooked or raw. Salads? Sure, but use a low-fat dressing or keep the oils to 1 tablespoon.
• Desserts? Let ’em wait for now, other than fresh fruit or fat-free Greek yogurt (I recommend that over regular yogurt because it’s higher in protein, to help you feel full and satisfied with fewer calories.) Remember, you’re saving up for later.
Your Ace in the Hole
You’re busy, but make a 20-minute walk a priority each day. That’s another 100 or so calories you’ll “bank”. If you’re a gym-goer, this is not the time to slack off. Indeed, you’ll bust some stress in the process and give yourself a mood lift. No downside here.
Be thankful you CAN be active. Anyone physically disabled would tell us to shut up about being too busy to be active. To them, it would be the greatest gift possible. We already have it. Let’s be thankful and not waste the gift.
Do even a couple of these tips and you’ll likely save a few hundred calories each day that you can “spend” having a little more at the Big Meal. Net result: no weight gain! Happy Day. You’ve got this.