After adding to my love handles last holiday season, I am taking on this Thanksgiving with an entirely new mindset. Believe it or not, it is actually possible to get through the end of the year without putting on a few pounds — you just need to approach it the right way.
When spring came and I realized that I no longer felt comfortable with my beach body, I made drastic changes to my diet. The hardest part about dieting is sticking with it. However, after a while, calorie counting and making healthy decisions came naturally.
After months of fighting off cravings and sweating at the gym, I am 20 pounds lighter than I was a year ago. I am not about to throw that hard work away just because the holidays are here.
Don’t get me wrong — I am still going to enjoy every bite of mashed potatoes, my all-time favorite food, but with a little self-control and few smart decisions, you too can refrain from stuffing your face.
Knowledge is the most important tool needed to avoid holiday weight gain. Being aware of recommended portion sizes is vital to eating the right amount of delicious treats.
When it comes to meat, limit yourself to four to six ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards. Vegetables are freebies — eat as much as you’d like. Be cautious of those delicious carbohydrates such as stuffing, sweet potatoes and pie — they contain the most calories. I know how hard it is to keep from eating the whole bowl of mashed potatoes, but it just has to be done. You can always have some the next day.
Which brings me to my next point — there will be leftovers. You don’t have to force every delicious flavor into one meal. There will be turkey sandwiches for the next week, and by then, you will probably want to throw up at the sight of them.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, think quality, not quantity. Enjoy your favorites, and if something isn’t too delicious, save that room in your tummy for something tastier. If your favorite part is dessert, cut back on the main meal. Don’t get the wrong idea — it is not smart to just eat half of the apple pie. Eating a balanced meal can help avoid stomachaches.
Finally, you should not avoid eating until the big meal. Going into the buffet with eyes that are three times the size of your stomach is asking for trouble.
Try snacking throughout the day. This can be especially easy if you are helping out with the cooking — you can sample everything as you go along. This will keep your metabolism cranking all day and prevent your body from turning excess calories into stored fat.
Spend some time at the gym before heading home for Thanksgiving break. This can balance the extra intake of calories that is inevitably approaching.
You can be smart and take charge of what you eat. While this may seem particularly difficult on Thanksgiving — a holiday designed for eating — it is definitely not impossible.
Junior journalism & American studies major
Printed in the 11/20/13 edition.