10 Tips to Staying Lean Over Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, you can almost smell all the food and baked goods already. With stuffing, pumpkin pie, turkey, cranberry sauce and so much more, how can anyone say no to all that good eating? If you worry about your waistline you will think twice and want to pay attention to this article.

The number one thing people say is simply “everything in moderation.” With that being said, that doesn’t mean on a given day you can simply open your mouth and fill it with whatever you want until your gut is ready to explode. The tips and advice below will help you “cheat” a little but also help you maintain your physique.

1. Never Go To A Gathering On An Empty Stomach

When you are hungry you will pretty much eat anything that is in front of you. It’s similar to the concept of not grocery shopping while you are hungry. When you go to a gathering on an empty stomach, you tend to pick at more food and over indulge in all the platters laid out on the table in front of you. Before you leave, eat something that contains protein and/or fiber. This will stunt your appetite and have you feeling full for longer than if you ate something with carbohydratesbefore going.

2. Drink Plenty Of Water

Water is definitely your friend at all times, not just during the holidays. If you feel hungry while at a gathering and there are no healthy choices, you can obtain the “full” feeling by simply drinking water. Besides curbing your appetite, it will also keep you hydrated.

3. Don’t Deprive, But Don’t Indulge

Like I said earlier, everything in moderation. If you want a piece of pumpkin pie or a scoop of stuffing with your turkey, by all means eat it. The trick is to only take a small portion of it just to curb your craving for the food. Eating things that aren’t necessarily on your list of “good healthy choices” won’t hurt you if you don’t make it a habit of continually eating that particular food. So with that being said, you can have your cake (or pie in this case) and eat it too-but don’t over do it.

4. Chew And Enjoy Your Food

When sitting down for a meal, make sure you chew and enjoy what you are eating. If you rush through it not only do you miss out on the flavors, but it will take your body longer to digest the food you ate if it is not broken down properly. Enjoying your food should be a satisfying experience and you miss out on it if you inhale your food quickly. Doing so will also lead to another point I will bring up in the next section – not allowing your brain to tell you that you are full.

5. Socialize Prior To Heading For Seconds

After eating what you had on your plate, socialize with the people at the gathering. What this does is allows time for your brain to tell your body that you are truly full. I’m sure many of you have experienced a time or two when you ate your first helping, went up for a second, ate that and afterward you literally felt like you were going to either bust at the seams or vomit. Buying time for your brain and stomach to get on the same page is crucial to preventing overeating.

6. Exercise

The best way to not pack on some extra pounds during the holiday is to not only make sure you continually work out, but to work out the day of the gathering. You will burn off many of the calories you will be eating so in the end you don’t wind up with a caloric surplus at the end of the day which could result in fat storage in the body. Maybe run or walk a Turkey Trot 5k in the morning!

7. Snack On Healthy Choices

Many gatherings will find some healthy choices to snack on before and after the main meal is on the table. Raw vegetables are something found at many gatherings which is passed by many being that there are “junk” snacks available which will fix their sweet tooth or craving. But that doesn’t have to be you. Have your fill of raw vegetables which are low in calories and healthy for you rather than a plate full of the junk you don’t need. Otherwise you will be regretting it later that night when you realize all the stuff you shouldn’t have ate.

8. Skip The Alcohol Or Limit Intake

Let’s face it, there are those that drink and those that don’t. If you don’t, you can skip right over this and go right onto the next section. If you like to drink, you have a few options. If you are at a gathering where you have pretty much an endless supply of alcohol you can either limit your intake to a few spread out over the gathering or simply skip it all together. Alcohol is full of empty calories, calories that you don’t need if you are planning on eating some food at the gathering that you normally wouldn’t ingest if you weren’t there.

9. Don’t Cave Into Peer Pressure

You will always have people at gatherings that want to brag about how good something is regardless if it will give you a heart attack from its nutritional content. Don’t give into the peer pressure and try everything that people say is amazing. If you do, you will find yourself indulging in everything that is there and piling up the calories before you even realize what you have done. If you want to splurge on a couple things, that’s fine. However, you need to pick and choose your battles.

10. Protein Is Your Friend

Protein is truly your friend at gatherings. Not only will it help build and maintain lean muscle mass, but it will also help you feel full. When the big turkey is placed on the table your eyes should light up and your mouth start to water. Get a nice size serving of turkey and add little sides as you see fit, but make sure the bulk of your calories during the meal are coming from that delicious protein source. Gobble gobble!

So there you have 10 tips to help you stay leaner during the Thanksgiving holiday season. How will you do?

French Onion Soup

When I was younger my family and I would go to the same restaurant all the time and they had the best french onion soup ever! I went there a few weeks ago and had it again, they changed the recipe a bit but still it was soo good! I was even one of those kids who hated onions or anything that didnt resemble a chicken finger and fries (whose really kidding I still eat like a 5 year old) but this soup was so good that I couldn’t help but love it!

So I found a recipe for french onion soup on the How Sweet Eats website (I always steal her recipes and I promise I asked her!) Since it’s cold and windy out today  figured that making soup that you can have for dinner would be perfect!

French Onion Soup

[adapted from Tyler Florence]

makes a giant pot, about 8-10 servings

  • 4 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 8 ounces of beer
  • 64 ounces of low-sodium beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • french bread
  • gruyere cheese, sliced

Directions

Set your crock pot on high, then add onions, garlic, brown sugar, butter, salt and balsamic and mix until combined. Cover and let cook for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are a bit caramely and brown on the edges. Add in flour, then stir thoroughly and let sit for 5 minutes. Add in beer, beef stock, thyme, and pepper, then turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 6-8 hours.

Before serving, cut french bread or baguette into slices. Fill soup bowls to the top, then cover with slice of bread and a slice of cheese. Set under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Be careful when serving as bowls will be hot!

Note: Used a very low-sodium beef stock, so depending on the stock you use, add additional salt for flavor if desired.

Doesn’t that look so freaking good? This will be the perfect soup to make tonight! So go buy some onions!!

Dirty Pop, Baby You Can’t Stop!

Pop, soda, soda pop, carbinated beverage, it doesn’t matter you call it, either way it’s not good for you! In the U.S we consume over 50 billion liters of pop a year!

FUN FACTS ABOUT POP:

  • Pepsi has created over 50 varieties of its cola, including a Christmas, summer and samba version.
  • Coke is the 2nd most recognized word in the world after ‘Ok’
  • The proposed ‘Penny-an-Ounce Soft Drink Tax’ would produce $15 Billion a year!
  • 21% of the average sugar consumed in an American’s diet comes from pop.
  • Drinking 2 soft drinks per week increases the risk of pancreatic cancer by 87%
  • Drinking 1 soft drink a day increases the risk of metabolic syndrome by 44% and increases a childs chance of obesity by 60%
  • Drinking 2 soft drinks per day increases the risk of gout by 85%

What’s in pop that makes it so bad for you? Let’s take a look!

THAT SWEET STUFF

The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises a 2,000 calorie-a-day limit as part of a healthy lifestyle, and no more than 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar. However, between 1994 and 1996 Americans were averaging about 20.5 teaspoons a day, or 68.5 pounds of sugar a year. Over the past 16 years, the amount of sugar in American diets has increased by 28 percent, with about a third of it coming from soft drinks. A single 12-ounce can of soda has around 13 teaspoons of sugar, usually in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.

PHOSPHORUS ACID

Phosphorus is useful to the body as long as it maintains a one to one ratio with calcium. When an imbalance occurs because of high phosphorus intake, phosphorus begins to corrode stomach lining, eats away at the liver, upsets the natural pH balance of the kidneys and causes acidity in the body which leads to numerous health conditions and diseases.

Pop is particularly high in phosphorus and is largely responsible for high phosphorus levels in Americans. When levels are high, calcium is not absorbed effectively and is leached out of the bones leading to bone loss, osteoporosis, rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. The calcium loss is responsible for inhibiting the growth of healthy bones and the increased incidence of broken bones in children. Studies have shown that the highly acidic phosphoric mix of pop will dissolve bone in a short period of time.

SODIUM BENZOATE

This is used in may brands of soda pop as a preservative. Although it is not considered to be harmful it causes hyperactivity in children. The main concern with sodium benzoate is when it combines with citric or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to form benzene. Benzene is a known carcinogen which increases the risk of leukemia and other cancers. The reaction to form benzene is increased in the presence of heat or light.

So these ingredients really are not helping you at all. But here’s what happens to your body soon after drinking a can or bottle of pop!

First 10 minutes: About 10 teaspoons of sugar quickly enters your system. You won’t notice this, however, because companies add phosphoric acid that hides the flavor so you can actually stand it.

15-20 minutes later: Your blood sugar spikes rapidly and you know how all of this insulin floating around your body. You have no choice of to store most of it as body fat.

40 minutes later: Your body has now absorbed all of your caffeine. Your blood pressure is rising and your liver has no choice but to drop more sugar into your bloodstream. Your brain is blocked by the caffeine so you don’t get drowsy.

45 minutes later: Your body will increase its dopamine production to stimulate the pleasure center in your brain. This is the same way that heroin works.

Over 1 hour later: The phosphoric acid from the soda connects with the calcium, magnesium and zinc in your intestine, which will boost your metabolism. The high dosages of sugar and sweeteners will cause you to excrete calcium.

Over 1 hour later: The diuretic aspects of soda have finally begun. The calcium, magnesium and zinc that we mentioned before that WAS going to be used to improve your health in addition to the electrolytes and water in your body will now be forced out of your body during your next bathroom break.

Over 1 hour later: You’ll start to feel a hunger crash and may get tired or sluggish. You also are now dehydrated and void of various precious nutrients that could of made you feel better.

Here’s a little infographic (I love these!) on pop and its affects on your body!

Image via: Term Life Insurance

Can anyone name which song the title of this post is from?! Think 2000s. 🙂