Tagged: Thanksgiving

Turkey Day Trepidation

A few years ago I posted the following article, and clearly it bears repeating as we all venture off tomorrow to indulge in high-caloric feasts and/or family festivities. I’ve updated it a bit so read and remember, it’s going to be ok!

thanksgiving-feature_080115

Does Thanksgiving give you anxiety?  I am amazed at how many of my clients have anxiety over the Thanksgiving holiday. They worry about what to cook, how to cook, when to cook, what to eat, what NOT to eat, and the biggie: how much weight they’ll gain.

Okay, people, listen very closely to what I’m about to say….

DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT!

The reality is that unless you gorge yourself on crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats for 48 hours non-stop, you’re not going to do that much damage in one day/meal. Now I know some of you look at the Thanksgiving feast as just that … crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats. But I know that in reality most of the meal is not that bad for you if approached simply and with moderation.

1-16957-getty-images-70000212

By moderation, I mean utilizing one (or both) of the following two approaches:  healthy substitutions and/oror smaller portions/quantities.  Here’s a simple list of choices and/or substitutions that are quick and painless and can make the difference between a 1200 calorie meal and an 600 calorie meal:

TURKEY:  eat the white meat. Packed with protein, very lean. If you love the dark meat, just mix a small quantity in with the white meat.

slow-cooker-herb-crusted-turkey-breast1

MASHED POTATOES:  substitute mashed sweet potatoes or yams. Use olive oil and non-fat milk instead of butter and cream. If your starch tradition also includes yams covered with marshmallows – keep the portion ridiculously small.

0d68dd0d-849d-4bb4-8c8b-e9848b99d2c1

maple-mashed-sweet-potatoes

STUFFING:  hard to make substitutions here (using gluten-free bread is one option), but if you are a stuffing junkie – keep the quantity small. I make stuffin’ muffins filled with lean apple chicken sausage, veggies, and apples which allows for less bread and better portion control in general.

20150923-thanksgiving-spread-vicky-wasik-003-thumb-1500x1125-427107

Stuffin Muffins

GRAVY:  another one that’s hard to substitute in a way that’s healthy and tasty, but if you keep it as a garnish and not a soup-sized portion, you’ll be alright.

how-to-make-gravy-horiz-a-1600

VEGGIES:  skip the green bean with mushroom soup and Velveeta casserole, and just oven-roast your veggies with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper.  You can then fill up your plate guilt free with these vitamin and fiber rich vegetables.

65602001_h34511596_wide-858199678c09a52222eb3f06c947a7c6e636a3bf-s900-c85

9081veggies800

PIE: what can I tell you, desserts are where most people have the hugest weakness. I make organic apple pie casserole (with no refined sugar) with crumbles of gluten-free granola on top (therefore no crust) but if you have no healthy options, keep the portion size small including the whipped cream or ice cream toppings (or better yet, skip the toppings).

0b28f90b-8398-4b33-870d-f5d6ea5b7e5a

crumble2-827a72

ALCOHOL:  Being that I am NOT a tea-totaller, wine is definitely a part of my thanksgiving feast. But I keep it to Red (which has less sugar content) and in general is healthier for you – if kept to moderation of course.

20141106-thanksgiving-wine-for-maggie-3

In conclusion, don’t sweat Thanksgiving. It’s a lovely holiday where friends and family gather to eat, drink, catch up and hopefully share a few laughs. Keep your nutrition in check but don’t micro manage it, and on Friday, work out instead of or before shopping (although walking the mall is good for burning a few calories as well).

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Managing Holiday Eat Outs

If fitness and nutrition occupy a large portion of your life as they do for me, the most stressful part of the holidays is how to maintain your nutritional goals/routines while still enjoying multiple feasts, parties, and restaurant gatherings. During this past Thanksgiving I successfully implemented a plan that allowed me to stay on track nutritionally while still participating in family events full of high-caloric foods, desserts and lots of wine… lots and lots of wine (wink). (This is extra-important as during the 4-day holiday I, like many of you, did not get to work out.)

So here’s the four simple steps that I follow and I highly recommend you give this “plan” a try as you head towards the year-end holidays and celebrations:

1. Be Choosey:

While I do enjoy almost all of the Thanksgiving foods, I realized that some of them I can skip (or eat a significantly small portion) and not feel that I was cheated out of something special. For example, mashed potatoes are easily available and/or made all year round and really do not add that much joy to my personal pallet (same for cranberry sauce). Stuffing on the other hand, is generally reserved for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas and I find it to be a “treat” I enjoy. Therefore, I skipped past the potatoes and sugary-cranberries, and instead drizzled gravy all over my decent-sized portion of stuffing. My pallet was happy, and I didn’t feel stuffed since I had less food on my plate.

food-story-800x600

2. Keep Quantities small – eat more often.

By now you all should be following my repeated advice to eat six small meals a day. In keeping with that, it’s easy to take a very small portion of each dish you enjoy (even if that’s all of them) and allow yourself to hold off on seconds – at least for 10 minutes to see if your stomach’s “full indicator” catches up with brain and taste-buds. You can always have round two a few hours later as one of your next meals/snacks. This keeps you from over-eating, while maintaining that fuel-in vs. fuel-out metabolism boost.

small-thanksgiving-meal

3. Opt for Restaurant Simple.

When dining out, if you keep your orders simple, small and flavorful, you will not only feel satisfied nutritionally, you will feel relieved that you didn’t over-indulge and in most cases small simple choices are also way better on your wallet! My family went to a Mexican restaurant for brunch one day and I chose a small mixed veggie salad and added grilled salmon, pine nuts and feta (dressing on the side of course). The dish was super-yummy, not too much food, affordable, and stayed well within my nutritional routine.

http___o_aolcdn

4. Keep the alcohol and sweets separate.

This last trick is a great way to “have your cake and drink it too!” I find that if I limit my meals to having either a dessert or some wine, I not only keep that uncomfortable fullness at bay, but I balance out my sugars as well. As an example we had a wine picnic one day where I skipped over the decadent chocolate dessert in favor of a long afternoon of drinking (wine tasting and a few bottles shared). Later at dinner, I abstained from the wine and enjoyed a luscious dessert.

dessert-and-wine

So fear not and stress not – with a touch of restraint and clever planning you can enjoy all the upcoming holiday feasts and parties without blowing out your waistline or your fitness goals. Cheers!

Surviving Thanksgiving

Every year clients and friends vent and lament to me about their anxiety over the upcoming Thanksgiving feasts and how this holiday ruins their fitness goals.  Every year I remind them all that Rome was not built in a day, nor was it demolished in one day either.

So I thought it best to repost my Thanksgiving column from November 2013 as the advice therein still holds true.  So take heart, enjoy the holiday and the food, be smart not reckless (with your nutrition), and as soon as your schedule will allow, get back to working out!

Does Thanksgiving give you anxiety?

I am amazed at how many of my clients have anxiety over the Thanksgiving holiday. They worry about what to cook, how to cook, when to cook, what to eat, what NOT to eat, and the biggie: how much weight they’ll gain.

o-THANKSGIVING-WEIGHT-facebook - Copy

Okay, people, listen very closely to what I’m about to say….

DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT!

The reality is that unless you gorge yourself on crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats for 48 hours non-stop, you’re not going to do that much damage in one day/meal. Now I know some of you look at the Thanksgiving feast as just that … crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats. But I know that in reality most of the meal is not that bad for you if approached simply and with moderation.

5ce6172529dc04a9db5781b887f2d82fc5bd9c6e67c8f1e8b721064b1f274b2a_1

By moderation, I mean utilizing either healthy substitutions in your cooking, OR simply enjoying smaller (much smaller) portions/quantities.  Here’s a example of choices and/or substitutions that are quick and painless and can make the difference between a 1200 calorie meal and an 800 calorie meal.

TURKEY:  eat the white meat. Packed with protein, very lean. If you love the dark meat, just mix a small quantity in with the white meat.

The-Perfect-Turkey

MASHED POTATOS:  substitute mashed sweet potatoes or mashed cauliflower.  Use olive oil and non-fat milk instead of butter and cream. If your starch tradition also includes yams covered with marshmallows – keep the portion ridiculously small.

Mashed-Cauliflower-close-up

STUFFING:  hard to make substitutions here (gluten-free bread is one), but if you are a stuffing junkie – keep the quantity small. I make stuffin’ muffins, which allows for better portion control.

FIZAKN6HO7XJFB6_MEDIUM

GRAVY:  another one that’s hard to substitute in a way that’s health and tasty, but if you keep it as a garnish and not a soup-sized portion, you’ll be alright. You can also try using a veggie based gravy (onions or mushrooms) and leave out the cream, just add in the turkey drippings and whisk till well mixed and “creamy.”

MushroomGravy2_PS_2

Veggies: skip the green bean with mushroom soup and Velveeta casserole, and just oven-roast your veggies with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper and your can fill up with these powerful green veggies loaded with vitamins and fiber.

Balsamic-Roasted-Veggies-pre-cooked-3b

PIE/DESSERTS: what can I tell you, desserts are where most people have the hugest weakness. I make organic apple pie casserole (with no refined sugar) using crumbles of gluten-free granola on top (therefore no crust) but if you have no healthy options, keep the portion size small and skip the whipped cream or ice cream toppings.

Healthy-Pumpkin-Pies3-WM-TITLE

ALCOHOL:  being that I am NOT a tea-totaller, wine is definitely a part of my thanksgiving feast. But I keep it to Red (which has less sugar content and in general is healthier for you), and no more than 2 glasses — moderation of course!

red_wine1

In conclusion, don’t sweat Thanksgiving. It’s a lovely holiday where friends and family gather to eat, drink, catch up and hopefully share a few laughs. Keep your nutrition in check but don’t micro manage it, and on Friday, work out instead of or before shopping (although walking the mall is good for burning a few calories as well).

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

6a00d8341cac1753ef019b0198ad26970b-pi

Does Thanksgiving Give You Anxiety? (Reprint)

In November of 2013 I published this article to help reduce some of my client’s anxiety over the impending Thanksgiving feast.  I thought it best to repeat it this week as Thanksgiving 2014 is just days away.  I have made a few more notes of nutritional advice as well.  Hope it helps a new group of food-worriers.

* * * * * * *

Here it comes, the single most high-caloric, high sodium, high sugar meal of the year — Thanksgiving!

Hálaadás-napi-menu

It’s no wonder so many of my clients suffer anxiety over the this annual feast of thanks.  They worry about what to cook, how to cook, when to cook, what to eat, what NOT to eat, and the biggie … how much weight they’ll gain.   Okay, people, listen very closely to what I’m about to say….

DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT!

The reality is that unless you gorge yourself on crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats for 48 hours non-stop, you’re not going to do that much damage in one day/meal. Now I know some of you look at the Thanksgiving feast as just that … crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats, but in reality for most the meal just isn’t that bad, especially if approached with moderation, and an accepting state of mind.  Stress puts more weight on than a meal, and accepting that this is just ONE higher calorie day out of many other days where you burn more than you consume, willl help you relax.

Again, the key is moderation.  Substitute healthier food choices when possible.  Eat smaller portions when your only choices (or your desire) is less quality and higher calories. Here’s a simple list of choices and/or substitutions that are quick and painless and can make the difference between a 1400 calorie meal and an 800 calorie meal.

TURKEY:  Eat the white meat, it’s packed with protein, and very lean. If you love the dark meat, just mix a small quantity in with the white meat.

MASHED POTATOES:  Substitute mashed sweet potatoes or yams. Use olive oil and non-fat milk instead of butter and cream. If your starch tradition also includes yams covered with marshmallows, consider nixing the marshmallows, but at the very least, keep the portion ridiculously small.

turkey-dinner

STUFFING:  Hard to make substitutions here (gluten-free bread is one), but if you are a stuffing junkie – keep the quantity small.  I personally make small “stuffin’-muffins,” which allows for better portion control. (Rachel Ray has an excellent recipe, google it!)

GRAVY:  Another item that’s difficult to substitute in a way that’s healthy and tasty (and also must be altered for those looking to be gluten-free) , but if you keep it as a garnish and not a soup-sized portion, you’ll be alright.

l

VEGGIES:  Skip the green bean-mushroom soup–Velveeta casserole, and just oven-roast your veggies with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper. You can then fill up with these powerful green veggies loaded with vitamins and fiber, helping you to eat smaller portions of the starchier side dishes.

BREAD:  Bottom line is rolls are a redundant waste of nutrition-less filler that you can definitely skip.  If you’re having stuffing there’s already enough of bread on your plate!

DESSERT: What can I tell you … desserts are where most people have the hugest weakness. I make organic apple pie casserole (with no refined sugar) topped with crumbles of gluten-free granola (therefore no crust), but if you have no healthy options, keep the portion size small and skip the ala mode (ice cream) in favor of a small dollup of home-made whipped cream (made with only a dash of maple syrup as the sweetener).

Pie

ALCOHOL:  Being that I was grew up not far from Napa, California, wine is definitely a part of my thanksgiving feast. But I keep it to Red (which has less sugar content) and in general is healthier for you (if kept to moderation of course).

red_wine5

In conclusion, don’t sweat Thanksgiving. It’s a lovely holiday where friends and family gather to eat, drink, catch up and hopefully share a few laughs. Keep your nutrition in check but don’t micro manage it, and on Friday, work out instead of or before shopping (although walking the mall is good for burning a few calories as well).

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!