Turkey Without the “Stuffing”

Simple tips to have your turkey and pie and eat it too this Thanksgiving!

By Dean Ornish | MD from Reader's Digest | November 2007
Enjoy the feast but don't overdo it this thanksgiving.Clipart.comEnjoy the feast but don't overdo it this thanksgiving.

When the Pilgrims enjoyed that first Thanksgiving, they were worried about having enough food to survive the winter. Today we have a different challenge — how to survive the day without gaining unwanted pounds.

The whole holiday season can feel like a minefield of overindulgence, and it’s almost impossible not to eat more than we want to. I’m pretty disciplined about my diet, yet at holiday parties, like everyone else, I find myself reaching for that extra cookie or brownie. After all, it’s the time of year to eat, drink and be merry. But it’s not very difficult to enjoy the bounty without bloating up as big as the Mayflower.

Knowing that you’re going to indulge makes it easier to eat more mindfully in the weeks before the holiday. Try to cut back on fat, refined carbohydrates and calories, and exercise a little more. Some tips for Thanksgiving:

     

  • 1.

    Snack beforehand.

    Have a low-calorie, filling snack before the big feast — an apple, a whole-grain bagel, cereal or a small bowl of soup — so you don’t arrive ravenous and lose control.

  • 2.

    Choose wisely.

    Put 20% fewer high-calorie foods and 20% more fruits and vegetables on your plate. Studies show you probably won’t notice.

  • 3.

    Eat healthier foods first.

    They’ll fill you up somewhat, so you’ll be less likely to overeat the other stuff.

  • 4.

    Serve yourself.

    Serve yourself instead of allowing your sister-in-law or spouse to heap your plate full.

  • 5.

    Choose foods that leave evidence.

    Keep those shrimp tails and chicken wing bones on your plate when you’re done. Studies show that if you see how much you’ve already had, you’ll eat less.

  • 6.

    Go slow.

    If you wolf down your food, your plate may be clean while others are still eating. That invites seconds. Take a sip of water every bite or two to slow yourself down.

  • 7.

    Use

    The tinier the dish, the less food you’ll take and the less you’ll eat.

  • 8.

    Skip the bread.

    When you’re in a restaurant, ask the server not to put bread on the table. Leave more room for your other favorite holiday foods instead.

  • 9.

    Don't skip the cranberry sauce.

    Substitute cranberry sauce, loaded with antioxidants, for fatty, high-calorie gravy.

  • 10.

    Choose low-fat toppings.

    On potatoes and yams, avoid butter, cheese, bacon and sour cream. If possible, substitute low-fat yogurt or nonfat sour cream.

  • 11.

    Watch the alcohol.

    Most drinks have almost 200 calories per ounce and slows down metabolism. And too much alcohol impairs judgment, so the more you drink, the more you’re likely to eat.

  • 12.

    Have

    The first bite is always best, anyway.

  • 13.

    Take a stroll after dinner.

    Walking not only burns calories, it also helps relieve bloating and prevent heartburn.

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