thanksgiving pig outI LOVE Thanksgiving! But, I usually regret how much I eat on that calorie-packed, food-focused day, because of how I feel afterwards. This year, it can be a double whammy if you’re celebrating Thanksgivukkah- the combination of my favorite American holiday and Hanukkah.

My friend’s sister, Renee Cohen, noted chef and foodie, has a delicious recipe for sweet potato latkes, which is think is an excellent combination for the holiday (not claiming it’s low calorie like the others). I found this at a wonderful website, BA50, which stands for Betterafter50.  She also has a great recipe for a carrot soup. Here are the links for it:

Here’s a list of my favorite strategies gleaned from many different sources to avoid the Thanksgorging!

1. Don’t go to Thanksgiving dinner hungry. Fasting all day or going there ravenously hungry will backfire, and you’ll consume many more calories than you may have if you had a typical breakfast and lunch. It’s tempting to think about “saving up” your calories for the big feast, but having a normal appetite will serve you better.

2. Hydrate well, both with water and tea, especially herbal tea that is very tasty. I use Teavana’s rooibos combined with a mate tea, which gives a feeling of fullness and satiety. If you can have some soup for lunch and /or a few hours before the meal, it will help control your intake.

3. Proximity is a very important factor in how many additional calories you consume. I consciously make sure I’m not parked next to the hors d’oeuvres and I don’t sit near the desserts after dinner because the nibbling and munching that happens when food is within reach can add up to several hundred calories.

4. Decide ahead of time what and how much you’ll eat, eat your favorite foods, not every food that’s presented. If you decide to eat only four foods, or very small portions of a variety of foods before you encounter the spread, you’ll be eating more consciously.

5. Fill your plate with vegetables and protein first–salad and turkey. Try to eat slowly so you’ll give yourself the 20-30 minutes needed to register your feeling of satiety. Then go for the starchy carbs like potatoes and stuffing, so you’ll end up eating less of those.

6. Go for the foods that are unique to Thanksgiving. Why eat rolls when you may eat them at anytime or mashed potatoes and green beans if you have access to them on a regular basis? If Aunt Betty’s pie is only there for this holiday, save the calories for that instead.

7. While we’re on the subject of dessert, if you must sample everything in front of you (and I must!) take a very small portion of each, which will ultimately equal one portion of dessert. That way, you get to try every confection without feeling awful afterwards.

8. Try to limit the alcohol, as this decreases willpower and disinhibits you, and appetite is one of those impulses that can be let loose.

9. Visualize how you will feel the morning after if you eat everything in sight. This may keep you more focused on eating thoughtfully.

10. As you’re eating, try to eat slowly, putting your fork down several times during the meal. Ask yourself many times during the meal if you’re satisfied yet, or if you really need to keep eating.

11. Get involved in a good conversation with your family and friends, so you can distract yourself from the food. Try to have an activity ready after the meal, like a good walk, or helping clean up so you can pull yourself away from table.

12. Do an intense workout before the meal, so your metabolism can be stoked and some of those calories will be burned.

13. Think of what type of eater you are, and plan accordingly. Is it all or nothing? Can you give yourself some leeway and have slivers of dessert or should you avoid it entirely?

14. Take home a doggy bag of good food that you’re too full to eat. If you have the dessert for breakfast, the next morning, at least you have the rest of the day to burn it off, and you’re not eating it in addition to all those calories you just consumed.

15. Bring your own healthy food that you know you can eat. I always bring roasted vegetables, and fill half my plate with them. If you’re the baker, you may want to consider making your desserts healthier, like the ones listed here. Many recipes can be just as good with half the sugar or honey (like the casserole above), or use yogurt instead of sour cream, or sweeteners like applesauce.

16. Last but not least, accept Thanksgiving as a day of indulgence. Although this last one may seem counterintuitive to the above 15, the final word is to be in the spirit of the holiday. Be thankful for all the good things in your life, including food, enjoy your friends and family, indulge in eating those once a year foods and/or desserts, just try a little moderation, but ENJOY !

Ellen’s blog can be found here

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