Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are a tempting time that often lead us to overindulge with extra sweets and food. In fact, studies show the average American consumes almost three times the recommended daily caloric intake on Thanksgiving alone. This is a major risk for weight gain and other subsequent health problems. Because of this extra food, some people might find themselves a little bit heavier than normal in the post-holiday season. These seasonal pounds can then add up over the years. Here are some tips to avoid overeating during the holidays, making it easier to enjoy our favorite holiday dishes without regret.
5 Tips to Avoid Overeating During the Holidays
Limit Added Sugars, Salts, and Saturated Fats.
Holiday casseroles are a delectable favorite, but they’re typically one of the least healthy options at the table. You can limit the number of unhealthy options that are on the holiday table by replacing some of the ingredients that contain added sugars and saturated fats with ones that contain more nutrients. The daily sodium recommendation for adults sits at 2,300 milligrams. This is an amount that we easily reach and often surpass with an ordinary, non-holiday diet. If you are concerned about the couple of extra holiday pounds you could gain this season, it would be wise to stick to just a few bites of casserole or skip it altogether.
If you’re doing the cooking, you can also utilize alternative seasoning options. The most popular seasoning option is salt, but when so much of our food already includes salt, adding extra to dishes isn’t the wisest. Use other spices like cinnamon, ginger, and rosemary in dishes like sweet potato casseroles, green beans, or turkey. This substitution not only cuts out excess sodium or calories, but also enhances the dish’s natural flavors.
Steering clear of ultra-processed foods like canned cranberry sauces, gravy from a packet, or instant mashed potatoes can help you reduce your added sugar and sodium intake. Canned cranberry sauce has 25 grams of sugar per serving, and packaged gravy has 500mg of sodium. This is all your necessary sugar for the day and one quarter of your necessary sodium. These foods and many others contain hidden sugars, fats, and sodium that make gaining those extra holiday pounds even easier.
Stick to a Regular Eating Schedule.
On a typical Thanksgiving, most Americans consume a whopping 4,500 calories. That’s equivalent to about 14 slices of pumpkin pie or 21 cups of mashed potatoes. And the rumor that skipping breakfast or lunch so you can eat a bigger thanksgiving dinner doesn’t keep the holiday pounds away. Skipping meals makes it harder to identify when you are truly full, thus making it easier to overindulge.
Prioritize Balance (and Veggies) on Your Plate.
Practicing portion control during holidays can be a challenge when overindulgence is almost encouraged. Try splitting your plate into quarters, filling up half with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with proteins and the final quarter with carbohydrates. Also aim to take smaller portions of dishes so you can still try lots of delicious Thanksgiving food without consuming lots of calories. If you want to consume larger portions of dishes make sure that they are healthier dishes like green beans, squash, or carrots.
Limit or Modify Drinks.
Festive beverages like apple cider, hot chocolate, and coffee concoctions are often loaded with sugar and can max out your calorie count before you even begin eating. If you don’t want to forgo your festive drink options, limit your drinks to just one serving to keep sugar consumption low. If you plan to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, skip the high-calorie options like eggnog and instead enjoy a glass or two of wine, beer, or liquor mixed with club soda. That way, you can take part in the celebration without overloading your tank with extra calories.
Be sure not to skip your regular workouts, as physical activity is one of the best ways to keep the holiday pounds away. Don’t skip the exercise to lounge and consider taking a walk immediately after holiday meals. Walking after dining supports healthy digestion by stimulating the gastrointestinal system, and taking walks after you eat is better for your heart health. Plus, it is an easy way to burn off a few more of those just-consumed calories.
As the Thanksgiving festivities begin, it’s easy to get swept up in the merriment and give into delicious temptations. Enjoy the season with less stress and regret and keep the extra holiday pounds to a minimum by keeping these tips in mind to avoid overeating.