The leaves are turning, there’s a chill in the air, and Thanksgiving will soon be upon us. Now, for those of us that struggle with our weight, this is a dreaded time of year. Pumpkin pie, dumplings, cookies and carb-heavy meals will beckon to us with the glint of crystalline sugars and buttery goodness… and we will succumb once again. Is there any way out of this plight? Yes, Virginia, there is! There are a couple of basic guidelines that, if followed, will make a huge difference in your (ahem) “bottom line.” Because they’re based on your body’s physiological needs and psychological wants, they should be easier to follow meaning you’ll be less likely to fail.
Our bodies have been the same model for the last 100,000 years when things daily life was very different. We didn’t get three square meals a day, we expended many more calories, and our metabolism changed with the seasons. “Stocking up for the winter,” meant life or death back then; now it means an extra 5-10 pounds because of our modern lifestyles. Keeping in mind that genetically we are still hardwired for fall power-eating, these guidelines focus on giving your body just enough tasty goodness to fill both our caveman needs and gratification desires.
· Survey the bounty before you – Don’t just dive in! Take a moment to see what’s on the table that you really want to eat. Too often we eat things like we shop – just because they are available and easy. Make a note of what really grabs your attention, and skip everything else.
· Portion control – Of those things you really wanted, take half of what you usually would. Unless you’re from a family of twelve and this is your only chance to eat before there is nothing left, take half. If you’re still hungry after you’ve eaten that, by all means go back for seconds. But chances are you won’t be, and you’ve dodged a calorie bullet.
· Eat slowly – It is a physical fact that there is a time delay between when our stomach is full and when our brain registers that fullness. By eating slowly, you’ll give your brain the time it needs to prevent you from overeating. An added benefit of this rule is you will have more time to chat with your family & friends in between bites and less after dinner lethargy.
· More green veggies, less starch – String beans, broccoli, etc. are so great for you, you can exempt them from the portion control rule… unless you slather them with naughty things like cheese, gravy & butter. Try to salt or pepper things rather than use butter (unless you have high blood pressure). Picking up a bottle of salt-free seasoning or a lower salt blend like Spike (http://spike-it-up.com/home.php) is a great alternative. If you must have Grandma’s mashed potatoes, use less gravy and butter.
· Water not wine – alcohol has 7 calories per gram, which is just 2 less than butter. If you replace even half of your normal holiday alcohol intake with water or seltzer, you’ll be cutting a ton of calories instantly. By following the portion control rule, you won’t have to teetotal it completely and can still have that eggnog.
By exercising better choices and a little restraint, your holiday season will provide you with great taste memories, a lot of satisfaction, and fewer pounds. There’s no need to deny it – the “season’s eatings” is something to enjoy, and it only happens this time of year. So eat, drink and be merry within reason, and there will be no need to ask for liposuction for Christmas.
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