Friday, 11 October 2013

One, Two, Three ... Go

When you are trying to stay on a weight loss program, or even just a healthy eating program there are all types of occasions throughout the year that can easily derail your efforts.  Valentine’s Day complete with chocolate hearts, green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, chocolate bunnies and ham dinners at Easter, but those holidays are nicely spaced apart.  If I do manage to overindulge and inflict major damage on my calorie count I can get back on track the next day and redeem myself before I have to step back onto the scale at the following Monday meeting of TOPS.

But now, the holiday eating season has officially begun!

You’re probably asking yourself, “What is this crazy woman talking about?  It’s only October!” 

Easily explainable!

Here in the “Great White North” otherwise known as Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated in October, this coming Monday as a matter of fact.  As if that were not enough, the small city I call home hosts Canada’s largest Oktoberfest celebration, coincidentally, also starting on the Thanksgiving Day weekend.  Yup … we go from turkey and all the fixings non-stop into 10 days of Gemuetlichkeit, beer served by the pitcher, candied peanuts, wiener schnitzel and, sausage and sauerkraut.

Let’s not forget about Halloween at the end of the month.  That lovely time of year when we shell out candy to all the ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties ringing the doorbell, their voices chiming “trick or treat”.

For me, the real trick is not eating all the treats before it’s time to give them out.  I’ve learned over the last few years to NOT buy any Halloween candy until the day before to resist temptation.  No matter what you tell yourself about those little bite-sized candy bars … let me tell you from personal experience … they DO contain calories! 

Then of course, hanging on to my willpower by the tips of my fingernails, we gleefully glide into November.  In our family that means two consecutive weeks of celebrating birthdays. 

As if that were not enough the Christmas celebrations start.  I know, I know … you are scratching your head again wondering what I am talking about, but think about it; is there anyone that does not have one Christmas function (company dinner or otherwise) that is already scheduled in November? 

Like I said, the holiday eating season is upon us.

It all seems so overwhelming when I am trying to eat sensibly and shed pounds.  Everywhere I turn from October through January there seems to be an event or an occasion where food is the main star.  Best to tackle them one at a time.  I’ll leave Oktoberfest out of the equation because, lets face it, it’s a local demon I need to face.   We’ll start with Thanksgiving.  Whether you celebrate it in October or in November Thanksgiving can be a major set back to your weight loss success.  But, only if you let it!

Studies show that the average dinner sets us back 2,000 – 3,000 calories more than the average daily allowance.  That’s NOT 2,000 – 3,000 calories for the dinner.

No! No! No!

That’s 2,000 to 3,000 calories MORE than is normally consumed.  Since I am trying to lose weight my calorie count is probably lower than “the average daily allowance” so if I let myself indulge I can only imagine what my personal over-consumption numbers would be? 

So what are some tips to make sure that the only stuffed at the Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey?  The following list is a compilation of advice found on various websites, including,, and

EAT BREAKFAST – You may be tempted to try and save some of those breakfast calories for later in the day when the “good” food comes to the table but eating a small meal in the morning can actually give you more control over your appetite.  Start your day with a small satisfying breakfast and you won’t arrive at your gathering feeling starved.  Plus, missing out on your first meal of the day slows down your metabolism, which causes your body to store more calories later.

EASY ON THE ALCOHOL – Alcohol calories can add up quickly!  Have a glass of wine or one drink and then have a glass of water or enjoy sparkling water before having a second drink (if you must).  That way you stay hydrated; limit your alcohol calories and, stay sober.

LIGHTEN UP YOUR PLATE – If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner you can make your recipes healthier and chances are your guests will not even notice the subtle changes.  Use fat free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make the gravy.  Use sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods.  Reduce the oil and butter whenever you can.  Try plain yogurt or fat free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.  If you are attending dinner at someone else’s home ask if you can bring a few dishes to share, that way you can make some lighter dishes.  Most hostesses welcome not having to prepare everything.

POLICE YOUR PORTIONS – Not only on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year make sure you fill at least half your plate with veggies.  Thanksgiving is a great meal for calorie counting because so many dishes are already on any healthy eating plan; turkey is a lean meat and yams are an excellent source of fiber

If your dinner is going to be buffet style, survey the table before you fill your plate and decide what you are gong to choose.  Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.  Don’t waste calories on foods that you can have all year long.  Fill you plate with small portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable, traditional foods.

Make some healthy swaps when you are choosing what to include on your plate; choose white meat instead of dark meat, green bean casserole instead of stuffing, dinner roll instead of corn bread, pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie, homemade cranberry sauce instead of canned and baked sweet potato instead of candied yams.

SAVOR YOUR FOOD – It is difficult to sit down and enjoy a meal on a regular day and even more so when you’re suddenly faced with a feast.  First and foremost, remember to eat slowly.  Put your fork down between bites and actually taste the food you are eating.  Experts agree that it the best way to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate of food.  If possible choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber to add to the feeling of fullness.

SKIP THE SECONDS – Try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings.  Leftovers are much better the next day, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you are less likely to overeat and have some room for a delectable dessert choice.

TAKE A WALK – Instead of jumping from the main course into the dessert round, excuse yourself from the table and take a brisk   Take a couple of friends and family members with you to keep enjoying the company.  The added bonus here is you leave the “skinny” people behind to clear the table and do the dishes before dessert is served!


  1. Have doggy bags ready or encourage your guest to bring containers.  You really only need one plate of leftovers for the next day and all the extra food in your refrigerator is nothing but a temptation.
  2. Eat before the party starts.  Don’t go to dinner starving.  Have a low calorie snack before hitting the Thanksgiving table.  You are less likely to overeat if you have your appetite under control
  3. Avoid finger foods.  Nibbling before, during and after the main meal is a recipe for a bellyache.
  4. Choose white meat.  White-meat turkey is one of the best low-fat protein sources for the dieter.
  5. Stay on your personal schedule.  If you already maintain a fitness schedule, don’t let Thanksgiving derail it, but …
  6. Don’t use exercise as an excuse to over-indulge.  On average, you need to walk one mile to burn about 100 calories (15 minutes at 4 mph) while it takes only 2 seconds to gobble 100 calories of food.

PLAN AHEAD – Start adding a little more exercise to your routine for several days before the BIG DINNER.  This will give you an overall calorie deficit and may offset any damage done at the dinner.

BE REALISTIC – You may possibly want to shift to weight maintenance during the holidays.  Dieting through Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a chore.  Make good choices, eat in moderation and keep moving.  Limiting the damage instead of eliminating it will reduce your stress about holiday meals.  Stress can lead to further overeating.  Sometimes, not gaining during the holidays is as good as losing.  Start fresh when it’s over and done with.  You did not gain all your weight by eating one meal, and you are not going to blow your whole diet with one meal.  Just remember, it called a holi-DAY not a holi-MONTH!

FOCUS ON FAMILY AND FRIENDS – Thanksgiving is not about the bounty of food, it’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends.  That should be the main event.  Spend quality time socializing.


Be thankful that you are surrounded by your family and/or friends.

Be thankful that you are able to enjoy a table abundant with food.

Be thankful that you can make choices at this meal because you know you will have another meal to enjoy tomorrow.

Those are all a lot more blessings than some people have!

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