8 Tips to Keep Thanksgiving Weight Gain in Check, by Dr. Angela Tran

We are soon approaching Thanksgiving! It’s my favorite time of the year. We share quality time with our loved ones and take the opportunity to be thankful for all the good things we have been given this year. Oh, and is your house filled with delicious, filling comfort foods like mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole and deviled eggs? Before we have even begun, you’re already thinking how many pounds you’ll pack on and how long it will take to you get it off before you must do it all over again next month! Don’t fret. You can still put yourself in position for minimal Thanksgiving weight gain, or even weight loss on Thanksgiving. Here’s the game plan and how you can boost your metabolism for weight loss with these simple tricks—right on the day of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving weight gain is usually not attributable to turkey, but the many side dishes and desserts.1. Drink at least 8oz of water just before starting and in between bites.

Water has been shown to help suppress your appetite, especially if you drink a glass before you even begin your Thanksgiving meal. Also, because of the increased salt intake and potential alcohol consumption, water will help flush the salt and toxins out and minimize any damage from the major water weight and bloating that we all have.

2. Drink Green Tea.

Instead of drinking coffee, try drinking green tea instead. In addition to caffeine, green tea has fat burning properties and has been shown to increase your metabolism. It is rich in polyphenols that work to reduce inflammation and help to fight cancer. Green tea, about 30 percent polyphenols by weight, includes large amounts of a catechin called EGCG. These natural antioxidants may help prevent cell damage. Green tea has also been found to improve your mood and enhance your brain function, so drink up!

Eating hot peppers during Thanksgiving can reduce weight gain due to the capsacin within the pepper.3. Eat hot peppers.

Hot peppers contain capsaicin which has been known to speed up your metabolism, curb your appetite, and slow down your eating to help you feel full and stay in control of your portions. Don’t you just love foods like these that help you fend off Thanksgiving weight gain?

4. Add cinnamon.

Cinnamon naturally regulates your blood sugar and is very helpful, especially on a day where we put ourselves into a carb coma. Put it in your tea or mix it into your foods and keep your blood sugars from spiking too high.

Salad with delicious proteins are helpful Thanksgiving weight gain blockers.5. Eat a healthy fat snack

Controlling your hunger is going to be one of the mainstay strategies in preventing unbridled Thanksgiving weight gain. You must learn how to control the portions of all your favorite foods. Don’t let your hunger meter approach the “hangry” level and cause you to eat more than you can handle.

The best type of snack to eat about 1 hour prior to your Thanksgiving meal is a healthy fat snack. Fat is your natural appetite suppressant and will help keep your hunger at a reasonable level. Examples would include a handful of almonds, slices of avocado, and shrimp and salmon which are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Eat turkey!

Eating a 3 oz skinless, lean turkey breast is packed full of protein. Protein will help build your lean muscle which increases your metabolism. It also takes longer to digest and essentially will burn more calories. Eat your turkey first, as it is the star of the show, and the protein will start to curb your appetite and help you from overindulging too much on our favorite side dishes.

7. Add sparkling water to your wine

Alcohol is considered empty calories – calories without nutrition. Even worse, it slows down your metabolism because your body is too busy clearing out the alcohol instead of burning calories, and it leads to increasing your appetite. Talk about a Thanksgiving weight gain villain!

Pour 3 oz. of wine and 3 oz. of sparkling water such as LaCroix or San Pellegrino and enjoy your wine with just half the calories. The bubbles will fill you up faster, too. Don’t forget to hydrate with water.

8. Cut everything in half

Portion control is the name of the game, but with Thanksgiving, we tend to stack up our plates will all our favorite fixings. The smells, the visual stimulation, the warm fuzzy feeling we get from comfort food causes our brain hormones to be stimulated as well and it will cause you to overeat to feel “full and satisfied.” Cutting your portions in half creates a checkpoint. Once you have eaten half, decide how many more bites do you need to feel full. It is much easier to put on the brakes than to mindlessly eat away only to find out that you have passed feeling stuffed. Give yourself water breaks in between bites too to help you slow down and create the full signal to tell you to stop.

Following just these 8 tips will help you survive and be in position for weight loss after Thanksgiving!

Perhaps the Most Important Thanksgiving Weight Gain Inhibitor

One final thought… Gratitude Helps with Weight Loss!

“Be Thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. ” 

– Oprah Winfrey

I once had a pleasant conversation with one of my patients. She said her kids had been learning about Thanksgiving in school. The kids suggested their family spend Thanksgiving volunteering at a shelter to help feed the homeless. We both sat, simply in awe of her children and the beauty of their gesture.

Thanksgiving shouldn’t be the only time of the year where we are thankful.

Gratitude has been connected to happiness and living a life full of gratitude creates a positive force that expands. I can reluctantly say that many of my patients tend to put themselves last, leaving them empty at the end of their day.

Food, then, becomes the primary source of comfort, and after years of practice, their weight and health suffer. I teach gratitude and the important skill of self-love. When we take care of ourselves first, our energy expands. Expansion leads to more energy, more confidence, and thus better choices including healthier ones. Gratitude also produces “happy hormones,” creates a positive attitude, and gives you clarity. The clear mindedness that reveals how taking care of yourself will actually help you take care of even more people. If you beat yourself up, you’ll end up gaining weight. Using gratitude and treating yourself kindly can help you with weight loss.

Weight loss can be stressful on the holidays as it is. If you use gratitude and treat yourself kindly, you’ll set yourself up for weight loss success.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I encourage you to try my tips for preventing Thanksgiving weight gain. I also hope you will make this the first of 365 days of fulfilling gratitude. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.

– Dr. Tran

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Dr. Angela Tran