Thanksgiving has a crazy history. But as a kid, the one tradition I paid attention to was the grand feast (that turkey, though!). Once a year, our family gathered around a long table to pray, say what we were thankful for, and eat enough to put ourselves into a food coma. Blame it on the tryptophan — I was sold.
That's pretty much how it became my favorite holiday. My grandma’s stuffing was a combination of white bread and Mexican rice. It was the epitome of Mexican-American cuisine. She made it once a year, and there was no way I wasn’t filling my plate up for seconds!
It takes a lot of self-control to avoid overeating around the holidays. In my family, people notice when you’re not piling your dish with a mountain of mashed potatoes. It’s a catch-22: Eat until you feel sick, or hear why you’re too skinny and should be eating more (for the millionth time).
So without further ado, here are six rules for sticking with your diet during Thanksgiving:
● Know what an appropriate portion is for each food. There’s no reason why you can’t try one of everything, but you can’t have several servings of each item and expect your body to thank you afterward. Here are the proper portions for each dish:
○ Turkey: 3 ounces, or the size of a deck of cards (not the Lotería kind)
○ Vegetables: shoot for filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, and carrots
○ Mashed potatoes: ½ a cup, or the size of a tennis ball cut in half
○ Stuffing (with or without rice): ½ a cup, or the size of an ice cream scoop
○ Gravy: ¼ of a cup, or the size of a golf ball
○ Cranberry sauce: ¼ of a cup, or the size of a Ping-Pong ball
○ Pumpkin pie: ⅛ of the pie, or the size of a standard light bulb
● Stay hydrated! I’m talking about water (although that jug of sangria is totally tempting). According to a study by the University of Birmingham, drinking water before each meal can help with losing weight. The study indicates that people who drink water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner end up losing weight faster than those who don't. This makes you less likely to overeat.
● Offer to bring a dish to share. When you’re sticking to a healthy diet, it’s easy to eat everything that’s being passed around. Use this as a time to practice a tiny bit of self-control and share the love with a healthy dish you made yourself.
● Follow the one-for-one rule. Drink one glass of water per every alcoholic drink you have. Do your best to avoid tia’s signature mixed drink as it’s likely packed with empty calories and sugary alcohols. But if you must, try to stick with just one. This will also help to avoid a potential holiday hangover.
● Eat a balanced diet the day of Thanksgiving. So many people skip breakfast and lunch for the feast later in the day. Dietitians recommend sticking with your normal routine and encourage eating breakfast and lunch so you aren’t starving when the turkey gets placed on the table.
● Take a walk after dinner. No one likes the "you ate too much and now you can’t sit still" feeling. Ask your family to join you on a brisk walk — this will help your body digest the food and add a few steps to your daily count. You might even make it a new tradition!
And if you play all of your cards right, you may end up losing weight after Thanksgiving just by following the rules!
Michelle Rivas is a Founding Creator and wellness blogger. When she's not writing for Vivala.com, you can find her on her at thehealthylatina.com.