Gobble, gobble! It may be the sound you think turkeys utter, but it’s also the sound of Americans chowing down for the holiday season. Feathered gobblers are trying to attract ladies and warning other males they will protect their territory when blaring their call. Gobbling celebrators at the holiday season though, need to heed a different warning. The average American gains between 7-10 pounds over the last several weeks of the year, and even more concerning – keeps it on!
What can you do to avoid this celebratory weight gain? I have a few tips for you, but they all start with the simple idea: plan ahead. Some things to ask yourself include: Where will you be celebrating? Who will be cooking? Can you make special requests from the cook for healthier fare, or can you bring your own dish? Are you up for hosting and doing the cooking yourself so you can be in control of the menu? Can you celebrate in a way that doesn’t focus on food? Once you have some general ideas in place, follow this list to enact your plan:
Have a plan and plan for success: Know when, where and with whom you’ll be celebrating.
Make plans that will be in your best interest. Is Grandma always trying to stuff you, fill your plate twice and send the leftovers home with you? Maybe you just visit before or after the meal with this part of the family. 2.a.Have a backup plan. Grandma still won’t take no for an answer with the leftovers? Search ahead of time to see if you can find someone that will appreciate them, or a place to donate them.
Host the meal yourself, if you’re up for it. That way, you’re in charge of the menu!
Bring a healthy, filling dish as a host “gift” or as a nice gesture. Then you know there’s at least one good choice for you at the party.
Have a canned response for nosy or pushy family members. When Uncle Fred asks why you’re not eating more, or Aunt Agnes wonders where your date is you can easily spit out your response. (Bonus points from me if you make it entertaining! Humor is a great situation diffuser. “Well, auntie, Brangelina’s divorce isn’t quite final, so we can’t be seen in public together yet.”)
If it’s a buffet, check out all the options before making your selections. Only eat the items you really enjoy, and keep your portions in check. Don’t be afraid to secretly slip a less than stellar option in the garbage or abandon your plate. (But don’t tell your hosts if you get caught, play it cool and give yourself and out with “Oh, is this a good place to leave my plate? I HAVE to get to the bathroom…”)
Be a social butterfly. Talk and mingle more than you eat. Have some great questions in mind to ask the cousin you see once a year and some great stories of your own to share. Embellish as desired. Look up some random fun facts about the Macy’s parade, turkeys, cranberry farming or whatever you think you can talk about for a while.
Clean up early. Don’t leave the food out for grazing. If you’re not in charge of clean up, stay in another room, away from the food.
Focus on family fun instead of the food. Do something fun as a family, create a new tradition! Maybe it’s a fun outdoor activity (post-turkey hike anyone? Ice skating or sledding after gift opening?), board games, or a family talent show. Just have fun together without food. My family thoroughly enjoys what I call the “Lack of Talent Thanksgiving Show” complete with costume changes. Our laughing and costume changing works off the pie.
Don’t wait for January to start thinking about your new year resolutions and goals! Start now, and gain momentum through the holidays. The sooner you start, the sooner you start seeing results. And if you can’t get through this time of year making better choices, you’re off to a great start!
Bonus Tip: Because, if you’ve read this far, you deserve a bonus. My final thought: DO NOT WEAR “THANKSGIVING PANTS!” Seriously, if you specially choose an outfit because it’s stretchy and you can eat more while wearing it… well, you probably aren’t reading this to begin with, but change your thoughts. Wear tight pants if you must to prevent overeating, and then you can be ready for your version of Jimmy Fallon’s “tight pants” act. See #9.
Most importantly, enjoy your holidays. Don’t feel like you have to restrict all of your food choices, just choose your favorites and really enjoy them when you do have them. Being mindful will help you keep your consumption in check. Or, set a turkey gobble ring tone to go off every so often while celebrating to remind you to slow down your own gobbling.
Rachel Seltzner is a former turkey mascot and is now a Naturopath on a mission to make the world a better place by helping others feel their best! She enjoys writing about healthy lifestyles, holistic nutrition and nature. When not in the office or playing ringmaster to her 3 kids, dogs and chickens, she manages to do some gardening, enjoys camping and living “wildly grounded.” Read more from her at www.naturallyrach.com or connect with her at www.facebook.com/naturallyrach.