How to enjoy yourself while making smart choices

Next week is Thanksgiving. Can you believe it? And then there will be Christmas parties followed by Christmas dinner and topped off with New Years. This time of year is quite difficult to stick to a diet or simply eat healthy. And we all know that eating that extra cookie rarely results in an extended workout. Here are a few helpful hints that you can keep in mind as you try to make healthy choices finishing off your year.

Moderation is key

You can enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner with the sides and even a couple desserts. When you do this, try to do it in moderation. Balance that splurge of a calorie heavy meal with a light breakfast and a salad for dinner. Experts suggest that you should not skip breakfast on Thanksgiving morning as you are likely to compensate with a heavier lunch. As you bake cookies in December, resist the urge to eat them daily or even multiple times a day. Freezing cookies to use for an event helps to keep them fresh and decreases your temptation to munch.

Homemade is always better

When you are cooking for the holidays, look for the joy of making things from scratch. Yes, it is sometimes a bit more work, but the flavors are amazing. Plus you are making a healthier choice as you are controlling the amount of salt and sugar in your foods. For example, canned cranberry sauce is full of sugar. Cranberry sauce made from scratch is super easy and is usually about 3-4 ingredients. The fresh orange zest really brings out the flavor of the fruit. If you’ve never had homemade cranberry sauce, let this year be the year you volunteer to bring it to Thanksgiving dinner.

Colorful plates

Adding vegetables to your holiday meals will help you make healthier choices. Bright orange sweet potatoes, green asparagus, and the now popular brussels sprouts are excellent choices. As you look for recipes for these dishes, lean toward ones that don’t add too much to the vegetables so that you can taste their full flavors. Roasted vegetables with a bit of seasoning is always a great addition to your buffet. Fill your plate with healthy vegetable choices first and you won’t have as much room for the yummy creamed corn or the fluffy rolls.

Portion control

This is always key. You can get a piece of pecan pie and a piece of pumpkin pie. Simply make sure the squirt of whipped cream is small and that you have slender pieces of pie. When you are sitting down to decorate your gingerbread house in December, eat a couple bites of candy, not a whole bag. It helps to measure out in advance what your serving of candy is so that you don’t graze the whole time.

Drink lots of water

We all know you need to consume at least 64 oz of water per day. It is important to drink water during your meal to reduce the chance that you will overeat. Drinking water during your meal versus other beverages helps decrease your calorie intake as well.

Eat slowly

The last tip is to eat slowly. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to tell you that you are full. Many of us eat quickly which means our brains haven't had the chance to catch up. If our brain doesn’t send us the signals, we often eat too much. So sit at the Thanksgiving table and have a conversation while you eat. Don’t talk with your mouth full! Enjoy leisurely hors d’oeuvres at parties during December. Eating slowly will result in less calories and a healthier evening. Healthstar Physicians is a multi-specialty physicians group with 16 locations in six counties including three after hours clinics. We live and work right here in East Tennessee. We would love to provide care for your entire family. Reach out to us and set up an appointment. We accept most forms of health insurance. Contact us to find out more.