When most people think of the holidays, they imagine their plates overflowing with delicious food. There is a table full of all kinds of food and that’s not to mention the desserts that won’t quite fit. It’s also a time to bring families and friends together to socialize around the table. While this doesn’t have to change, hopefully these pointers will help fight the holiday temptations this season.
Aim to fill your plate so that you can still see some of the plate.
Portion control is a great place to start. While this doesn’t mean pulling out the measuring cups or weighing things, we can make a conscious effort to not pile on the food. Most plates are larger than 9” now (11”-13” is the norm) so we are already setting ourselves up to overeat. Everything looks tempting and our minds can make us hungrier than our stomachs actually are. Don’t forget that there will likely be leftovers and having a second plate in a few hours is usually a better option.
We don’t have to leave the table stuffed or overly-stuffed for that matter.
A common aftermath of Thanksgiving is feeling sleepy a few hours after the meal. While this is normally attributed to the fact that turkey contains tryptophan, which later gets converted into melatonin (the hormone that helps control our sleep cycle). This is the true, but do you normally get that feeling after eating a turkey sandwich? Probably not. That’s because not only are we eating turkey, but we fill our plates with stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, pumpkin pie and more. In a way, we overload our bodies and the ‘crash’ is our body’s attempt to process or metabolize all the nutrients it has just been provided with.
Check-in with your body throughout the meal.
It takes 15-20 minutes for our stomach to communicate with your brain to let it know we’re full. When we shovel in the forkfuls, it’s hard to realize when we’ve reached our limit until it’s too late. Set your fork down and rest every few bites. This could be joining in on the conversation or just to take a few sips of water. Most importantly, when we feel full or even before, make sure to stop so you can enjoy the leftovers later.
Don’t forget to hydrate.
Alcohol is commonly present at the table as well. The general recommendation is 1 drink (12 oz. beer, 5 oz. wine or 1 oz. liquor) for women and 2 drinks for men. This does refer to holidays, but if we know we’re going to have more make sure to include water throughout the day. Alternate a drink with water or take breaks to rehydrate.
Decide to have good intentions this season and don’t forget to add vegetables to your plate!
Adrien Paczosa is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian practicing in Austin, Texas and the surrounding counties.
She is the owner and founder of I Live Well Nutrition her Dietitian practice which started in 2007 and serves clients in the Austin, Texas area in two locations. Fearless Practitioners, the division of her business that offers training to dietitians and wellness professionals.