Thanksgiving is a holiday that is traditionally centered around food, which can be difficult for bariatric patients and others who are trying to lose weight. During the Thanksgiving feast, the average person consumes 4,500 calories — more than double the recommended daily amount for adults.
If you have had weight loss surgery or are trying to watch your weight, you may be wondering how you can survive the Thanksgiving holiday without overdoing it. Here are five tips to help you have a healthier Thanksgiving.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is skipping breakfast to “make room” for your Thanksgiving meal. Never go to a holiday party or meal hungry — if you do, you’re more likely to overeat by giving yourself bigger portions and snacking or grazing all day. Instead, plan a protein-packed breakfast for Thanksgiving morning and drink plenty of water before the big meal.
Use a small, dessert-sized plate to help keep your portions small and don’t feel pressured to try some of every dish. Fill your plate with protein and veggies first and then add a small spoonful of other dishes you’d like to try. Remember to stick to the general rules for what foods you should and shouldn’t eat depending on your post-op stage and limit starches and sweets as much as possible.
You and your loved ones have spent all day preparing this Thanksgiving meal. Eat slowly and be sure to savor every bite. There’s no rush, so put your fork down between each bite and chew your food thoroughly. When you eat quickly, your brain doesn’t have time to catch up to your body, and you likely won’t get the signal that your stomach is full until you’ve already overeaten. When you start feeling full, stop eating. There will always be leftovers tomorrow.
If you’re heading to a loved one’s home to celebrate Thanksgiving, you likely won’t have control over the majority of the dishes served. So make plans now to contribute a healthy dish — one you know you can eat — to the meal. There are healthy substitutions you can make to some of your favorite traditional dishes, such as subbing mashed cauliflower for potatoes, avocado puree for butter in baked recipes (1:1 ratio) and swapping sugar for vanilla extract, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Alcohol, soda, sweet tea, cider, punch and even coffee drinks are loaded with so-called “empty calories.” Be careful to avoid these liquid calories that won’t satisfy your hunger and stay hydrated with plenty of water instead.
Despite the tradition, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be centered around food. Refocus your holiday on feelings of gratitude and the quality time you’ll have to spend with loved ones rather than what you’ll eat. By implementing these simple tips, you can enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday guilt-free!