There are many articles online with tips for losing weight during the holidays, however, these are specific tips that Dr Covington has shared with her personal weight loss patients over the years. These tips have been tested and proven to guarantee success and keep you from gaining Thanksgiving weight.
Change your Mindset
Change your idea about Thanksgiving. Many people think of Thanksgiving as the day to feast without constraint, to overeat, to overindulge, to be glutinous, and let it all hang out! The reality is that many Americans unfortunately already do this every day. If you are on a weight loss program it’s because you want to change this mindset and change this behavior of overeating and lack of self-control. This requires changing the way you think of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude; make being thankful and grateful the focus and eating an afterthought.
I know what you’re thinking, why eat breakfast when you plan to enjoy an epic day of eating? Skipping breakfast will increase hunger and cravings and make it harder to make good choices for dinner. It also breaks the routine if you are used to eating breakfast daily. For individuals who suffer with overeating or anxiety surrounding food, skipping the breakfast meal can heighten these negative emotions. Eating breakfast will also provide a sense of control that you at least made 1 sensible food choice for the day.
One mistake that individuals make is assuming breakfast has to be dramatic or large on Thanksgiving. It doesn’t. A protein bar, protein shake, or simple protein breakfast i.e. Greek yogurt or omelet is a perfect choice and will help keep your glucose levels consistent throughout the day.
Go for a morning walk or jog
Starting the day with exercise will help you feel more energized and help the body process pending calories. Walking and jogging aids in digestion (reduces constipation) by moving particles along the gut. In addition, it feels good to make healthy choices, it improves self-esteem and makes us feel powerful. Start your Thanksgiving holiday knowing that you made a healthy choice.
If you’re pressed for time, walk a quick mile, it only takes 8-10 minutes and you can do it in your living room.
Load up on Protein
As your survey the Thanksgiving feast, make protein the priority. Turkey, chicken, ham, meatballs…whatever the protein source… add protein to the plate first and build from there. Protein is packed with nutrition, more filling, and leaves less room for the wrong foods. Choose baked over fried.
Avoid Sweet Drinks
If you can avoid sugar sweetened beverages altogether that is certainly the goal. If you must have sweet drinks try to limit it to 1 eight ounce beverage, this includes alcohol as well.
Opt for any of the following beverages instead:
- Sparkling water
- Unsweetened tea
- Fresh squeezed lemon, no sugar added
- Crystallite or other powdered drink package
Make the Goal 1 Serving and A “To-Go” Plate
If you apply the idea that the Thanksgiving meal must be consumed in 1 sitting, you will undoubtedly overeat and overindulge. This is because you are activating the “principle of scarcity” – the thought that food is scarce, and you must eat it now. The principle of scarcity creates anxiety and fear surrounding food and leads to unnecessary calories and binging. Instead, eat a sensible Thanksgiving meal and take the leftovers home for the next day or the next meal.
Portion Control for Desserts
Enjoy Thanksgiving dessert but choose wisely! If you are sampling multiple desserts reduce portion sizes. If desserts are tempting don’t take any home or limit yourself to 1 portion “to go”.
Get Active after Dinner
Avoid the Thanksgiving “food coma”. Get up and walk around, go for a walk after dinner, play games with loved ones that require movement, do something active and resist the urge to sit or fall asleep in front of the television.
Take a Break from the Food Diary
A quality life requires balance. Thanksgiving is 1 day that you want to relax from strict macronutrient and food monitoring. Enjoy the time with loved ones. However, go back to the food diary the day after Thanksgiving!
You may gain water weight
If you notice a large shift in your weight the day or weekend following Thanksgiving this is likely water weight. This can happen if you ingest more salt or overall food than usual. Water weight will resolve in a few days, so don’t be alarmed. Don’t let water weight get you off course.
Thanksgiving is 1 day NOT the entire week!
If all else fails, enjoy Thanksgiving, but remember it is only 1 day, not the entire week. One day is not enough to cause fat gain but 1 week certainly can.