Surviving Thanksgiving and Holiday Parties ~Part Two

So you planned ahead, did some exercise on the days and hours leading up to your Thanksgiving or Holiday dinner, ate a normal breakfast and lunch, you even made some low calorie and healthy alternatives to the traditional foods. But now you are at the party and confronted with piles and piles of delicious fatty foods. What do you do?

Grand Central, originally uploaded by Steven Jareb.

Passing on the snacks and hor dourves

Continue drinking water or other zero calorie drinks before the meal. (Tea, coffee, crystal light) Find or create an activity for you and the kids that will keep your hands busy. (Games, crafts, a round of football outside) Chew some sugar-free gum to keep your mouth busy and full.

If you do plan to eat some food before the main meal, stick to the veggie platter but skip the dip or have hummus instead of the fatty standards. Consider dishing up a small plate of snacks and sit down (away from the food) to eat them. This will help you keep track of how much you have had and avoid the standing and grazing pattern.

If you are helping in the preparation of the food, avoid tasting, sampling and picking. If you DO need to sample, COUNT each bite and track for your overall calorie count. Weight Watchers suggests 1 point per sample.

Be assertive. You don’t have to say yes to every offer of food just to be polite.

Dish up your plate consciously

Remember your portion sizes and control how much you serve up. Think like a kid. Remember when you didn’t want any of your foods to touch each other? Make small islands of each dish but remember gravy is NOT your ocean. Fill at least half of your plate with healthy salads and vegetables. (NO, the green bean casserole with butter and French fried onions does not count as a healthy vegetable!)

Pick white meat over dark meat and give the skin to the dog. Have your gravy (and salad dressing) on the side and dip your fork in it before getting a bite of turkey or potatoes. This will give you the flavor without drowning your day in calories.

Pay Attention

As you eat, do it slowly and pay attention to your level of satisfaction. Listen for the groans and sighs around the table. These are obvious signs of fullness.

Don’t get distracted by multitasking while eating. Activities like watching TV or reading takes your focus off how much you are eating and your sense of fullness. Stop when you pause while eating or sense that you are full no matter how much food is left on your plate. Eat slower and drink water with a meal. Food takes 20 minutes for a message to get from your stomach to your brain that you are full so meals should take at least 20 minutes and preferably longer. Chew each mouthful thoroughly. (the dietitian)

Track your calories by writing down what you have eaten. Or write it down ahead of time, and keep the list close at hand to remind yourself of the plan. Look at your list before you go for seconds. Seeing those HUGE calorie counts can really help you avoid seconds.

After the Main Course

As soon as you are done, help your host by washing dishes, starting with your dinner plate. Excuse yourself to the powder room and brush your teeth. This is a great signal to your body and mouth that you are done eating. Or freshen your breath and avoid more nibbling with another stick of gum.

If possible take a little walk before the desserts come out. Again, select your desserts carefully. Pick ones that are special or that you never get a chance to have on a regular basis. Have little slices and savor the taste. Avoid the whipped topping and ice cream or have the fat free versions.

Leaving without Baggage

I really love Thanksgiving leftovers. But Thanksgiving is a holiDAY… and shouldn’t become a holiWEEK. So if you can, try to escape without leftovers, or conversely if you are the host, get rid of as many as possible. But if you end up getting stuck with some leftovers you have a couple of choices. As my Weight Watcher’s meeting Leader said, “They can go to waste or they can go to your waist!” She suggests stopping at the nearest garbage dumpster and getting rid of them. I was thinking perhaps hand them off to a needy soul if you happen to run across one (pretty easy to come by in Seattle.)

If you stuck with your plan and survived the meal, give yourself a big pat on the back. But if you didn’t brush it off and move on. Tomorrow is another day and the holiday should not derail your overall health and fitness plans.

Next, Part Three The day after!