Tis the season to stuff yourself!
However, eat the right foods at the right time, and you could walk away from your Thanksgiving feast victorious against the battle of the bulge, all without depriving yourself.
1. Eat before the big meal. If you show up hungry, you may be tempted to reach for a second helping of buttery mashed potatoes or calorie-ridden pecan pie. Eat about two hours before the big event. Raw veggies fill you up due to their high fiber, along with some lean protein, like fish or poultry, to keep your insulin levels in check, preventing a blood sugar crash.
2. Dress in snug clothing. “You’ll be less likely to overeat if you’re wearing something a little snug, because you’ll start feeling uncomfortable more quickly,” says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet.
3. If you're hosting the event, help your waistline and those of your guests by making single size portions of high calorie dishes. Jackie Newgent, R.D., author of The With or Without Mean Cookbook says, “For instance, bake stuffing in cups of a muffin pan; make sweet potato or green bean casserole in individual ramekins; ladle creamy soups into espresso cups; or serve gravy or rich salad dressing in shot glasses.”
4. It's okay to be picky. Let your first bite determine whether continuing to eat that dish is worth the calories. “If it isn’t everything you’d hoped it would be, don’t waste calories by having another bite,” says Elisa Zied, R.D., author of Younger Next Week.
5. Trade mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower - it really does taste a lot like the potato variety, and will save you lots of starch. “For a delicious stand-in, boil cauliflower, mash it, and add a little skim milk, lemon and garlic,” say Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D., and Lyssie Lakatos, R.D., aka “The Nutrition Twins.”
6. Choose booze or sugar, but not both. Alcohol turns to sugar in your bloodstream and can cause fat storage. Some lower calorie alcohol options - choose a small glass of red wine, a shot of tequila, or mix mineral water or diet tonic with a single shot of vodka and a splash of lime. If dessert is more your thing, go for a half slice of pie or a half cup of egg nog.
7. If you simply must have both dessert and alcohol, try a 45-calorie cocktail. The Lakatos twins say to create a "Fruity Tooty Spritzer" by combining 1 cup sparkling water, 2 ounces vodka, 1 tablespoon grapefruit juice and 6 raspberries. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
8. Eat off of colorful plates. According to Newgent, “You’ll likely eat more when light-colored foods, such as turkey and mashed potatoes, are served on white or cream plates. Research has found that the more contrast between your food and plate color, the less you’ll likely eat — or overeat.”
9. Let everyone else line up first. “Once the cheese platter and desserts have been picked over they won’t seem nearly as enticing,” says Karen Ansel, R.D.
10. Choose appetizers that show you how much you've eaten, like in-shell pistachio nuts or shrimp cocktail. The shells and tails will remind you to keep your portions in check. Ansel says, "Their empty shells are a helpful visual cue about how much you’ve eaten, potentially encouraging you to eat less."
11. Stop before you feel stuffed with a "meal ender." Zied suggests popping a breath mint or reapplying your lip gloss. Another trick - try pouring a small amount of water on your plate so you won’t want to refill it.
12. Help clean up and burn some calories at the same time. Not only will the host love you for it, but Newgent says, "One hour spent clearing the table and washing dishes while you’re standing can whittle off about 100 calories.”