With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it's important to make sure that you enjoy the holiday without sabotaging all your hard work in the gym.
While your friends and family may have no dietary or fitness standards, you do, so you must act accordingly, no matter how difficult it may be. Although this will take some preparation on your part, it is not an impossible task, and you can still enjoy the delicious Thanksgiving repast without going so overboard you feel guilty when looking in the mirror the following morning.
If you don't care about your physique at all, then you don't need to read any further. But chances are if you are surfing around Bodybuilding.com, then you definitely do, and hopefully this article will help you muster up a little more motivation and control on national dead bird day. Eat up!
Did you know that the average Thanksgiving dinner has OVER 2,000 calories? That is around an entire day's worth of eating in a single sitting! (Or two, or three, four, five or six for some of you meatheads out there).
If you're gaining mass, then hey, maybe you don't mind the extra layer, but if you are trying to lean down, this can mean a lot of extra work and dieting to make up for that holiday binge. So here are some tips that will help you to lessen the impact of that hearty meal.
Don't Starve Yourself All Day For A Dinner Buffet
Boy, have I made this mistake before. You know that when dinner time comes, you are going to be bombarded with a massive onslaught of goodies, so what do you do? You starve yourself for the entire day, so that you will have plenty of room to store all that wonderful stuff—as fat!
Remember, when we skip meals, our metabolisms slow down, so that when we do eat that gigantic meal, more will be stored than burned! Instead of starving yourself the entire day, start your day off the way you usually do, with your healthy breakfast and some cardio. Then have some lunch as well.
Make sure you have some good carbs with your breakfast and lunch as well. This way, when you get to dinner, you will be less hungry, and can focus on eating the healthier parts of the meal, rather than gorging on the starches!
LOAD UP ON MEAT AND VEGETABLES, EAT STUFFING AND OTHER CARBS SPARINGLY (OR SKIP THEM ALL TOGETHER)
As your plate is being filled, ask for a lot of vegetables and meat! Eat less of the starches and high-fat items such as green bean casseroles (prepared with cream of mushroom soup), mashed potatoes (that may be made with butter and milk), and candied yams (loaded with cream, sugar and marshmallows).
Moderation or abstaining altogether is key when you can't control the ingredients that go into a dish. There's nothing wrong with saying you don't want any!
Go Skinless With The Turkey
This should be a no-brainer, but I figured I would say it anyway. Most of you on Bodybuilding.com have probably conditioned yourself to never ever eat skin at all anyway, but for those of you who haven't, cutting that skin off will slash away enough fat to allow you to substitute some side dishes and desserts in its place! Think about that, and I'm sure you'd rather have a small bowl of ice cream than a helping of dead turkey skin (unless maybe you're doing KETO).
the skinny on skin
|Roasted, With Skin||208||54%||0%||42%|
|Roasted, No Skin||170||69%||0%||26%|
|Roasted, Skin Only||442||18%||0%||81%|
|Light Meat, No Skin||157||76%||15%||18%|
|Dark Meat, No Skin||187||61%||39%||35%|
Drink More Water, Less Coffee And/Or Alcohol
In addition to filling you up a little more with your meal, drinking water will ensure that you stay hydrated, and flush out some of that excess sodium that you will be eating. If you're going to drink alcohol, opt for red wine (which has antioxidants in it) over mixed drinks like margaritas which are full of empty calories and do nothing for you except leave you sloshed and sluggish!
Eat Slower, Rather Than Voraciously
Eating slower, taking smaller bites, and putting your utensils down in between bites will ensure that your body lets you know when it is full, rather than letting you overstuff yourself too early on. Savor each mouthful of delicious food, and be thankful and mindful of the time spent with your friends and loved ones.
Converse More, Masticate Less
Remember that Thanksgiving is a time to rejoice with your friends and loved ones! Be thankful for that, and spend more time making conversation, rather than stuffing your face! It will also allow you to eat slower as well and really enjoy their presence, rather than drown yourself in your plate and ignore the celebration.
Strive For Weight "Maintenance," Rather Than Weight
Keep in mind that during Thanksgiving, weight loss should not be a major priority, but rather weight maintenance. It is, after all, a time to celebrate and socialize, so that should take precedence over being so strict that you don't enjoy yourself and bring down the morale of the group because of it!
You'll be way ahead of the game if you can avoid gaining weight during the holidays when everyone else packs on five to ten pounds! You'll look and feel better in the days that follow, and will be happier because of it!
Use A Rating System For Foods In Order To Make Choices
As the foods are being passed around, use a 1-10 scale to judge how appealing a certain food is to you. If you really want a food, it gets a 10. If it doesn't look that appealing, give it a lower rating. You'll be surprised how many times you put a food on your plate that you really don't want, and wind up eating it unnecessarily. As I said before, it's OK to say no!
Begin By Eating Salad First
If you start with a salad, you will fill yourself up a little bit more with something nutritious before the real feasting begins. Try to stay away from creamy dressings and toppings that are unnecessary. Opt for lighter dressings, and things like balsamic vinegar, or oil and vinegar if possible.
Skip The Pie Crust, And Just Choose One Serving Of Pie
When eating pie, eat the filling part and leave the crust, to save on some empty calories. A lot of times during a Thanksgiving dinner, multiple types of cakes or pies are offered. In these cases, look at your selections and once again use the rating system.
The piece of pie that you want most will be the one that you choose. If you cannot choose just one piece, wait a little while and come back, before you take three or four pieces of cake that will up your caloric intake by 1000 or more!
If you are cooking the Thanksgiving meal, there are also some things you can do to lessen the amount of excess unnecessary calories you have at your meal, while not sacrificing on flavor at all!
With the turkey, you can use a fat separator for the roasting pan juices, and skim off all the fat before making the gravy.
Pies & Desserts
With pumpkin pie or other desserts, you can use half the amount of sugar you would normally, as well as substitute brown sugar for white. Brown sugar is better for you and more flavorful. If you're going to use whipped toppings, make sure they are light or fat-free.
Whipped Toppings & Butter
Chances are, if you don't put any butter on the mashed potatoes, no one will say anything. You can also put it on the side instead of cooking with it. This way you give people the option of having it or not. Same goes with the vegetables. You can use olive oil or fresh herbs instead of butter for flavoring.
After The Meal
Following your meal, instead of sitting on the couch like a slug, you can go out for a walk or maybe do something active with your family. I know, I know, I may be asking for a little too much here, but in some situations this might be an option!
For example, if there are little children around, they will probably be running around all over the place, so that will give you an opportunity for some exercise.
Just remember, first and foremost, Thanksgiving is a time for celebration, but do so in such a way that you don't regret it later, and you will have a much better time! I guarantee it! Now stop sitting at the computer and go eat something!