Tia Hagins, Registered Dietitian and Community Nutritionist at Somerset Medical Center
With mouth-watering holiday recipes making their way around the internet, and many people eagerly anticipating the traditional turkey feast, complete with all the usual fixings, it’s more than easy to get carried away during the holiday season. While over indulgence may not have been a problem for the Pilgrims, today for many Americans, it is. It’s important that we learn how to navigate these holiday spreads, making a conscious effort to stay healthy despite the overwhelming desire to go back for second and third helpings. Follow the below tips to ensure that after your holiday meal you feel satisfied and not swollen.
- Drink Water. Thirst can often be confused with hunger. Drink two 8 oz glasses of water 20 minutes before you eat. People who do this consume on average 100 less calories per meal and are less likely to become dehydrated.
- Eat Regularly. While you may be tempted, don’t skip a meal in anticipation of larger holiday feasts. Eating a healthy breakfast and lunch will greatly reduce your chances of overdoing it at dinner.
- Serve Smaller Portions. A smaller plate will likely give you more time to ingest your food and force you to take only the sides that you really want. This will greatly reduce your likelihood of over-indulging.
- Limit Alcohol and Sweets. Both alcohol and sugary snacks are filled with empty calories that are hard for your body to burn off. If you’re going to eat dessert, wait 20 minutes after dinner to give your body a chance to begin digestion. Also try alternating between alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. One 8 oz glass of water between alcoholic beverages will help you avoid a holiday hangover.
- Resist the Urge to Taste Test. While it’s certainly tempting to taste each dish along the way as you cook, fight the urge to do so and limit tasting the foods. Small tastings of food while cooking a holiday meal can literally add up to over 800 extra calories to your day’s intake.
- Recognize A Full Stomach. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to relay to your brain that you are full. In that time, you can easily overeat and force your body to concentrate most of its energy on digestion. This will leave you feeling lethargic and likely cause indigestion and trouble sleeping.
One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the leftovers. Instead of trying to eat everything all at once, take some home and eat a properly portioned lunch the next day.
By keeping some of the above tips in mind during those big holiday meals, you’ll be able to enjoy the holiday season without making your health pay the price.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Somerset Medical Center!