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7 Tips to Avoid a Disastrous Thanksgiving

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Heeeeeeeere we go! Bring on the stuffing! It’s holiday season, the 5 weeks each year where you are able to eat and drink your little hearts out, right?? Um, wait one second. Let’s NOT throw away all of the hard work of 2011 on a disastrous holiday season of eating and drinking and INSTEAD implement a few KEY rules to stick to in order to, at the very least, maintain where we are now, and not gain. Here are our top 7 hard & fast holiday rules for coming out on the other side unscathed!! Good luck! :)

1) Choose fat over carbs.  This is an easy switch and will most-likely leave you just as satisfied. If you find yourself having to choose between a more fatty option versus a sugary treat, always choose the fatty one because it will have less of an effect on insulin and can still be used for energy (over carbs).  Here are some examples: go for a cheese plate over bread & butter, opt for breakfast meats like sausage and bacon (+ eggs) instead of french toast, go for cheesy or buttery veggies instead of starches like mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce, fill up on turkey, ham or whatever meat is available (even if it is a fattier cut) over the starchy side dishes (I have been known to sit and just eat a variety of proteins at a meal when side options are all starch), and sub in almond flour and xylitol for all-purpose flour and sugar, respectively, when baking desserts and breads.

2) Avoid the “all or nothing” mentality. You know what I am talking about: “wellllll, I might as well just eat whatever I want since it’s going to be SO hard to stay tight during the holidays.” My solution is not to stay “so tight” but instead to use moderation. If you have a few bites of pumpkin cheesecake as I probably will later this week, do just that–a COUPLE of bites–instead of letting a couple of bites turn into a couple of pieces (screw it!) and then let that turn into a couple of days of eating whatever, at which point you adopt the mindset of, eff-it, I am already off it, I will just get back on it January 1st. By January 1st, we could be talking about 5-10 lbs of water and a few of fat that will be just that much harder to get off, when if you had just gotten your mind right during the holidays, you wouldn’t have to worry about. There is no room in the fat loss lifestyle for, “well, I already messed up, I might as wait until Monday/January 1st to get started back.” Start back right now, don’t wait. So, if you have a couple bites of cake, leave it at that, workout tomorrow, prep your meals, eat clean and have a few more bites at the next family gathering or your cheat meal a week from now.

3) Prioritize exercise, even if it is 20 minutes in your driveway at 5am. When you engage intense exercise (weight training in particular), your body is primed to build muscle and your cells are more sensitive to insulin. Meaning, that when you indulge in the hours following a tough workout, there is less of a chance those calories and carbs will go towards fat storage. Instead, they will help with muscle repair and growth.  For Thanksgiving day, be sure to get a heavy weight workout, preferably involving the legs to maximize the use of consumed calories thereafter. Also, choose intensity over duration because more intense workouts will extend the “after-burn” effect of the workout, meaning an elevated metabolism for longer.  In addition, it would be wise to engage in a leisurely walk within an hour after a big meal. This will also help with calorie control and energy usage.

4) Choose your beverages wisely. Alcohol is big around the holidays and when it comes to adult beverages, there are definitely some options that are better than others. However, when it comes to alcohol, the #1 key is moderation, because no matter what option you choose, if you over-consume, it won’t matter anyway.  So keep it to a couple of drinks max. Here are your best bets for bevvies:

  • Vodka & soda: Soda has 0 cals, 0 carbs, extra lime please!
  • Gin & diet tonic: Yes, a little artificial sweetener, but a better option than real sugar when you are talking about fat loss
  • Red wine: At least you are getting a little antioxidant action
  • Low-sugar egg nog: You can make your own with xylitol—remember the fat from yolks is better than sugar! Jillian and I experimented with this last year, I will post the recipe soon :)
  • Sugar-free mojito (made with xylitol)—here’s our recipe!

5) At Thanksgiving dinner, eat protein, then veggies, then wait….wait some more…then have a little more protein…then wait a little more…just a little longer…and then add a single serving of starch if you are still hungry. Got it? :)

6) Play “Dessert Defense”. I do this at my in-laws at every single holiday meal. I BRING my own waist-line-friendly dessert so that I have plenty of health(ier) treats for myself, even if no one else like them :) I have brought this….and these….or this made with xylitol….and then eat it and only it. Having something you know is safe is key to staying on track, especially if you like sweets like me.

7) Drink plenty of post-meal water. As you may remember from last year’s Black Friday De-Bloat post, I recommended tons water and tons of fibrous veggies after your Thanksgiving meal. This is super-important, and I recommend beginning with it immediately after the meal, drinking 2-3 liters of water between the meal and bedtime. Between sodium, alcohol and additional starch, you are going to wake-up puffy. Happens to the best of us (one time after devouring a pizza and 2 vodka tonics after dieting for a show for several weeks I woke up the next morning and literally had to wear sunglasses all day, as I could barely open my puffy eyelids, Jade always teases me about my eyes after a cheat meal).  So, additional water after the meal and the next day will help balance sodium and increase excretion so as to help shed water. Insulin, released as a result of carb, also causes water retention at the level of the kidney so this is a double whammy, and on top of alcohol’s dehydrating effects, you may or may not have sausage fingers when you wake up (you ladies know what I am talking about!) :)

There you go! Some quick & dirty rules for you! You can still have a great time, maintain what you’ve got and NOT go overboard. Start preparing mentally now :) Good luck! ox Jill

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