Holidays that feature large meals are especially trying for individuals challenged by weight management. The temptations presented by the vast array of meats, side dishes and desserts combined with a sense of obligation to eat heartily lest some family member will feel slighted make Thanksgiving through Christmas especially stressful for people intent on losing weight. Luckily, there are several tricks a dieter can use that prevent overeating without preventing participation in family meals.
One easy change is to use a small plate. Psychologically, small servings of food swimming on a 10″ dinner plate look tiny. This illusion can easily fool a person into eating larger portions, regardless of whether they feel satiated or not. Changing to an 8″ plate makes the portions appear larger.
Use a large fork. A recent study of restaurant diners showed that those who used a small fork tended to eat more calories per visit than those who used large forks. The reason? When people go out to eat, they are motivated to get the most “bang” for their buck. When they used a smaller fork to eat the meal, they felt that they needed to work more in order to get their money’s worth. Those using larger forks cleared their plate faster, so they tended to eat more slowly. This led to feeling full more quickly.
Finally, add more fruit to the menu. Admittedly, mangoes and pineapple weren’t the favored foods of the Pilgrims, but mixing chopped and peeled fresh mango and pineapple pieces into the traditional cooked relish made from whole, fresh cranberries is colorful, nutrient-rich and satisfies the sweet tooth.
The Weight Watchers website hosts a user forum. Some tips from Weight Watchers participants for surviving Thanksgiving include:
1) Making a wild or brown-rice based stuffing, rather than one that uses bread. Rice-based stuffings tend to use less fat during preparation than bread-based stuffings, and the rice is less likely to absorb additional fat from the bird. Wild or brown rice also offer more soluble fiber, which leads to greater satiety with smaller servings.
2) Eat pumpkin pie without crust or whipped topping.
3) Prepare low-calorie vegetable substitutes in addition to the mashed potatoes. Steam and mash cauliflower or butternut squash and season lightly with a heart-healthy butter substitute, salt and pepper for a change of pace. Make a great tossed salad that includes raw broccoli and fresh spinach. Both of these vegetables are high in antioxidants, fiber and have been shown to help mitigate blood sugar levels.
The final suggestion was to be sure that Thanksgiving – or any of the upcoming holidays – was about more than the meal. Keeping the focus on relationships and gratitude rather than on whether your biscuits get rave reviews from Aunt Sadie eliminates much of the self-imposed stress the holidays bring. Eliminating stressors eliminates emotional overeating, so controlling portions becomes less of a struggle.
People who may need a lifeline or accountability partner during the holidays can easily find one at one of the 36 Weight Watchers franchises in the Indianapolis area.