Thanksgiving in the Zone

Of the holidays we celebrate which one is almost completely centered on food? Thanksgiving of course! Beginning with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and later the football games on TV, the socializing, family gatherings and activities are all focused on the main event – eating! Traditionally, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season (shopping, decorating, and celebrating); but, for many, the fourth Thursday in November simply signals the inevitable holiday weight gain, 5-7 pounds on average.

Thanksgiving dinner marks the time to make an important decision about your health and how you plan to approach the holiday season. There are only 2 choices:

GAIN WEIGHT BY ENTERING THE DANGER ZONE!
It’s the holidays so I’m going to enjoy myself, even indulge. I’ll deal with the consequences of my choices later – when I come back to the Zone in January.

MAINTAIN WEIGHT BY LIVING THE ZONE LIFESTYLE!
It’s the holidays and I’m going to enjoy myself but be mindful, stay in the Zone and enjoy the results of how great it feels to maintain my weight during the holidays. Balance and moderation.

In the Danger Zone, besides the weight gain, you will have less energy, with a hangover from overeating or drinking too many carbohydrates. And let’s not forget the guilt. Even though the Zone approach is forgiving, (Rule #7: There is no guilt in the Zone), you probably won’t be as kind to yourself as this rule intends when the scale goes up in January.

Living in the Zone will maintain your weight throughout the holidays. In addition, the Zone Lifestyle gives you the extra energy needed to meet all the additional demands of this buy time of year. Feel great! You can still enjoy the holidays, some holiday goodies and have the added boost of healthy nutrition to support you through all the activities of this busy season.

Make the choice to stay in the Zone, Thanksgiving through New Years. You won’t regret it!

Thanksgiving is celebrated in one of the following ways:

  • with friends/families at their home
  • at a restaurant
  • in your own home

To successfully stay in the Zone, you must have a game plan for each scenario. Here are some tips to help you when dining out, either at a friend/family gathering or restaurant.

Arrive satiated, not ravenous. Thinking “hormonally.” Gone are the days when you starve all day to be able to eat more. Have a satisfying Zone snack or mini-meal. You will arrive with hormones and insulin levels in balance. It will be easier to make Zone choices and keep the focus on enjoyment of family, friends and good food, instead of food being the main event.

Watch your portions. Replace that “volcano” of mashed potatoes with a larger portion of Zone friendly, low glycemic vegetables. Think, “I am going to eat slowly and enjoy everything, the first time around. No need for seconds.”

Be mindful. Easier said than done. Train that little voice within you to ask, “Am I eating too fast or too much?,” Am I enjoying each bite?,” “Have I taken the focus off celebration?” Slow down and enjoy the moment. Pay attention to what you put on your plate and how fast it disappears.

Know the difference between being satisfied versus being full. When you feel satisfied, you still have a little room left. You have the energy for a walk. You are not drowsy. When you are stuffed, you are bloated and uncomfortable, most likely headed for the couch and a snooze. Don’t blame sleepiness on the turkey; it was all those calories and carbs you ate!

One scenario is left. You have been chosen (lucky you) to host the Thanksgiving dinner. Yes it will take effort to put on an impressive feast, but you can stay in Zone friendly, even when everyone else wants certain traditional dishes. A typical Thanksgiving dinner will most likely include:

  • appetizers
  • roast turkey
  • salad
  • mashed potatoes
  • gravy
  • stuffing
  • rolls/corn bread
  • cranberry sauce
  • candied yams or sweet potatoes
  • green bean casserole
  • wine
  • pumpkin, apple or mincemeat pie

As host and a member of the Zone you have several decisions to make when planning the menu:

Which, if any, dishes do I plan to serve without any changes? This would be any traditional dish your family/friends look forward to once a year. No adjustments of ingredients to lower calories and/or carbohydrate content.

Which dishes will I change slightly to make them healthier? This would mean substituting some of the ingredients to lower calories and/or carbohydrate content. They will be a healthier version of the same unaltered traditional dish, but not necessarily meeting all requirements as a balanced Zone entree. With just a little extra cooking, you could offer this version along with a traditional one.

Which dishes will I alter to make completely Zone friendly? This would be recipes that are in the Zone. Along with your low-fat protein serving and a dash of “good” fat (if not added to the recipe), they will keep you in the Zone and help maintain your weight.

Plan your menu accordingly. Either as a slightly altered, healthier version or as a Zone friendly alternative to the traditional recipe, you will find these recipes helpful in keeping you and your family in the Zone.

Check out Calla Slimspa’s recipe section to get some great Thanksgiving recipes that are Zone friendly.