Ways to Avoid Thanksgiving Weight Gain

The Thanksgiving feast—and all that follows—does not have to be a treacherous minefield for those who are trying to lose weight, maintain weight loss, or avoid weight gain. Here are five tactics to ward off the holiday weight gain.

1
Make Water Your Beverage of Choice

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Given that sugar-sweetened beverages have been identified as a leading cause of the obesity epidemic, it makes sense to eliminate those from your diet entirely.

Soft drinks, in particular, have recently come under fire as a major source of added sugar. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average 12-ounce can of cola contains over 8 teaspoons of sugar! So, by drinking just one small soft drink, a woman would have already far exceeded her recommended daily sugar maximum (of 6 teaspoons), and a man would have nearly reached his (of 9 teaspoons).

Alcohol is another beverage that can be full of unnecessary calories and carbohydrates. Too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, put a strain on the liver, and cause a host of other problems. And for women, excess alcohol consumption has been linked to breast cancer.

Water has zero calories and many health benefits. Researchers have found that drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before you have a meal can make you feel fuller and thus more likely to eat less, thereby reducing calorie intake.

Staying hydrated throughout the day will make you more alert, help you think more clearly, and make you feel less fatigued. All of that can lead to making better dietary choices as well.

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2
Keep up Your Exercise Routine, Even on Thanksgiving Day

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You already know that getting enough daily physical activity is perhaps the single best thing you can do for your body. Try to get in your regular workout if you can, and be sure to stand up and walk around after Thanksgiving dinner. Research has shown that walking for just 15 minutes after eating a meal can significantly improve blood sugar levels. At the very least, help out with the dishes and the cleanup instead of heading straight for the couch to watch television!

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3
Watch out for the Casseroles

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Casseroles can be loaded with butter, heavy cream, bread or bread crumbs, and/or cheese—and therefore one more source of excessive and unnecessary calories. Choose roasted or sautéed vegetables instead. And consider adding a salad to the menu.

4
Say No to White Bread

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There is an old saying among cardiologists: “The whiter your bread, the sooner you’re dead.” Cutting white bread out of your diet is one of the simplest ways to lose weight fast. Beware of dinner rolls, stuffing, and biscuits on the Thanksgiving table, all of which are usually full of bad carbs and fats, and will make you put the weight on fast. An exception to this would be 100% whole-wheat rolls or stuffing made with 100% whole wheat as the breading source.

5
Don't Go Back for Seconds

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This is key to maintaining some semblance of portion control. Have your single serving, and rest assured that that will be more than enough.

Sources

Davy et al. Water consumption reduces energy intake at a breakfast meal in obese older adults. J Am Diet Assoc 2008;108:1236-1239.

DiPietro L, Gribok A, Stevens MS, et al. Three 15-min bouts of moderate postmeal walking significantly improves 24-h glycemic control in older people at risk for impaired glucose tolerance. Diabetes Care 2013. [Epub ahead of print; doi: 10.2337/dc13-0084]

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