Article via Lt. Cmdr. Amit Sood
Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy many social events with your family and friends, and of course, some great cooking! During this time of year, it isn’t uncommon to gain a few extra pounds. in fact; Americans gain an average of one to two pounds throughout the holidays. With the abundance of high-calorie foods available at social events, weight gain can happen fast. Just one pound of fat gain is equal to 3,500 calories in excess of what you need to maintain your weight. Fortunately, you have the ability to make a conscious effort to take care of your body and celebrate health with strategic and mindful eating.
Skipping meals throughout the day in preparation for a party meal will often lead to overeating. Instead, eat a hearty breakfast filled with whole grains, fruits and protein, such as eggs or peanut butter. The fiber and protein will help you feel full, maintain your energy level and prevent excess calorie intake later on. Also, snack on high fiber foods throughout the rest of the day to keep your hunger under control. Then when it comes time for that big meal, be sure to savor each bite in smaller portions.
Don’t be fooled, though. all foods contain calories (yes, even vegetable side dishes!). No matter what you choose, the trick is to eat in moderation.
Here are some additional tips to help keep the calories down while still enjoying your holiday favorites:
- Use smaller plates during meal times as it will help you eat less.
- Substitute two egg whites for one whole egg whenever possible – this reduces cholesterol and calories.
- Scale back on butter and margarine and try low-sodium, fat-free broths to flavor your sides.
- Look up recipes that use applesauce or pumpkin in place of butter or oil in baked items like breads, muffins, cakes or pies.
- Try infusing your favorite spices in fat-free plain yogurt to replace cream-based sauces and cake toppings.
- Try “slow-motion” eating. Research shows eating slowly helps to eat less. Take at least 20 minutes to savor your food while focusing on family and friends during mealtimes.
Remember, you have a conscious choice to enjoy this time of celebration, festivities, family and food.
Lt. Cmdr. Amit Sood, the OPNAV N17 Nutrition Programs Manager, is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. He has nearly 10 years of experience in counseling thousands of service members and their families on nutrition and health-related issues, having delivered close to 600 nutrition-related lectures to more than 20 commands and institutions across the DoD. With a passion for promoting nutritional awareness to enhance health and quality of life for individuals and populations, Lt. Cmdr. Sood hopes to offer simple and practical ways to maintain healthy eating practices 365 days a year. He is a firm believer in the phrase “Food is Medicine,” and that every individual should embrace this idea to help them think about food as a therapeutic agent, thus leading to food choices that are beneficial rather than detrimental to overall health.