Hello, UMass. If you were not aware, Thanksgiving is in 3 days! Yes, 3 days. What does this mean? The next week can make or break your healthy eating and exercise habits. Okay, maybe you have been slacking when it comes to eating consciously and exercising daily, but don't wait until New Years to change your habits.
The average person, contrary to popular belief, only gains 1-2 pounds during the holiday season. But this news is not all that great. While the myth that American's gain 5-10 pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year's has been busted, the few pounds they do gain are not necessarily lost once the holiday season ends. These pounds add up over the years, and a person who never had weight problems is suddenly 10 pounds overweight after a few holiday seasons pass.
Set the tone for the winter months and understand what to be gobbling on Turkey Day.
- Avoid temptation. Odds are, you are not cooking your own holiday feast. If you were, eating right would be much easier because you could control exactly what goes into each dish. Therefore, with the meal preparation out of your hands, all you can do is exercise some control. Tips? Avoid cheesy, salty and carbohydrate-filled appetizers. Just because the dip has spinach, artichokes, onions or other vegetables doesn't make it healthy. Also, take a good look at the entire appetizer spread and fill a small plate with fixing from the veggie tray and one snack you want to indulge in.
- Fill your plate with color. Once dinner rolls around, think about how hungry you are, and not just about how awesome the food smells--this is the true test of willpower. Take a look around the table and look to fill your plate with the prettiest, fall colors. Avoid bland, neutral-colored, starchy foods that offer little nutritional value.
- Understand portion size. First, visualize the size of your stomach. When empty, your stomach is about the size of your fist. When your stomach is full it can hold as much as a gallon jug, but you do not need that much food to be satisfied. Here are some serving size guidelines:
- Vegetables or fruit is about the size of your fist or a baseball.
- Pasta is about the size of one scoop of ice cream.
- Meat, fish, or poultry is the size of a deck of cards or the size of your palm (minus the fingers).
- Snacks such as pretzels and chips are about the size of a cupped handful.
- Potato is the size of a computer mouse.
- Pancake is the size of a compact disc.
- Steamed rice is the size of a cupcake wrapper.
- Cheese is the size of three dice or the size of your whole thumb (from the tip to the base).
- Eat slowly. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to get your stomach's "I'm full" memo. Eat slowly and enjoy the good conversation around you. You will be less likely to over eat.
- Dessert is bad. I know, I am a horrible person for saying that, but dessert can add hundreds, maybe close to a thousand, calories to your day. Don't skip dessert; it's the holidays, you deserve a small treat after a long semester. Small is the key word here. Similar to appetizers, take a good look at all the desserts and choose wisely. Use a small plate and pick one thing to indulge in.