First – get your minds out of the gutter. tsk. tsk.
With the American Thanksgiving coming up in a few days, which then leads to the Christmas season, I know from experience that many people struggle with the dreaded Holiday Blues. Depression aside, in some cases, what that means is over-eating and eating so much holiday goodies that you invariably gain at least 10 pounds over a short period of time. At least.
This is not something new. It’s been happening for a very long time. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have complained to me about the weight they gained over the holidays. It has a worse reputation than the “Freshman 15”.
It starts with Thanksgiving. Most people that I know, stuff a 20 pound turkey with a bread-infused stuffing, add all the fixings from mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, rolls, gravy and anything else you can think of – and that’s just for dinner – and then proceed to stuff themselves into a stupor – an over-stuffed food haze.
Forget the tryptophan, people get tired and sleepy after eating at Thanksgiving because they over-indulge. Then they sit around, their bellies full and the inability to move off the couch continues until it’s time to get up for another dose – usually in the form of a turkey sandwich.
It’s a vicious cycle really.
Add in all the deserts that most families tend to have around the house and it’s a recipe for disaster. I remember a lot as a kid my mom spending time baking sweets for the holidays. Pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas. Fruit cake, Rice Crispy Squares, chocolate-drop cookies and maybe some date squares and butter tarts (we are Canadian after all) – the list can be endless. Then visiting family and friends who always put out a spread when they had company over and it can become a holiday of excess.
I’ve found after some experimentation and observation that those that eat more sweets as snacks gain more weight than those who would snack on the salty treats like popcorn and chips. No lie. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. I don’t know what that is exactly as both are bad snacking choices but it’s true.
Since I’ve moved to the States, I would normally spend my Thanksgiving alone. As well, the US Thanksgiving is in November but the Canadian one is in October. Either way, I spent it alone and therefore, not only do I not stuff myself into oblivion but I also didn’t spend that time over-indulging in holidays treats. Last year I was invited to a co-worker’s house to spend it with her family, so manners dictate that I not gorge myself while visiting someone’s home. Egro…I really need to be invited to more houses over the holidays.
I’m going to her home again this year. 🙂
As I’ve gotten older, my mom has baked less – if at all now – and I don’t really find that I miss it. Sure, I do crave some fruit cake or date squares around this Season but if I don’t have either, I’m okay with that. Why?
I actually am not a sweets person. I’ve stated I’m not a “foodie” and that’s true. But I’m also not big on the sugar-infested candies, cakes, pies and cookies that you would see during the holidays. Diabetes aside, I really do not have much of a sweet tooth.
I often would joke that I can be in a room full of sweets and not bat an eye but put me in the back of a Lays truck and look out. Think: Tasmanian Devil.
That’s not to say that I never eat sweets. I do. But because of just how “sweet” those types of delicacies are, even one peanut butter cup is enough for me in one sitting. I have a “Sweet Threshold” apparently. Who knew? So I can go without sweets and not break a sweat – and for this I thank the little Baby Jesus.
Not only do I not need sweets because of my diabetes, but I don’t need sweets because of my weight. Obviously. I can only imagine how big I would be if I really liked a lot of food (was a “foodie”) AND loved sweets. Good grief but that thought scares me.
So, in the case of the title of this post, “turkey” refers to my body, more to the point, my stomach. Which frankly, is far to big already. Add in that even though I know how awful I feel when I over-eat normally (and it’s much too much a too-frequent occurrence as it is), it doesn’t usually stop me from being stupid. And face it, over-stuffing yourself is stupid.
Below are some ideas to help you if you find yourself stuffing your turkey much too much during the holidays. As with any advice, “knowing” and “doing” are two completely different things, but it’s my belief that even if you somewhat curb your normal routine, it’s still a good thing. And if you can go – pardon the pun – cold turkey, then more power to you and I worship the ground you walk on, you will-power Maverick.
Get it? 😛
Helpful Ways to Try to Avoid Over-Indulging During the Holidays
- Don’t Arrive Hungry: If going out to a party or as my grandmother used to say “galavanting* around”, a good idea is to not arrive hungry. If you suspect you’ll be offered plenty of food and snacks while visiting, or if it’s a party where that is normally a given, drink plenty of water before and during to help suppress your hunger. In addition, if possible, eat a small healthy meal prior to going out where you know temptation will be. That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy a little bit of food, but if you want to avoid the over-stuffed feeling – and later the feelings of guilt for over-indulging – plan ahead. This can also be used if you’ll be spending the day at the mall shopping for gifts so you’re not tempted to eat in the Food Court where most foods are “fast” and unhealthy.
- Enjoy the People around you: Whether you’re attending a party or visiting family or friends, the biggest part of the event really shouldn’t be the food. It should be the company you’re keeping. The people around you. Maybe they are family or friends you don’t see very often. Spend the time with them, talking and engaging them, to distract yourself from all of the temptations over there on the delectable and beautifully decorated holiday treat table. And if you’re at a party and there’s dancing – kick up your feet and show them your moves – even if they are from 1984.
- Lay off or limit the booze: Before you break out the pitch-forks & torches or send out a posse after me at this idea, by limiting the amount of alcohol you intake, especially at a holiday party, not only are you limiting the amount of empty calories but you’re also aiding your natural desire to snack while you drink. Ever wonder why peanuts or pretzels are served at a bar? Ever hear not putting beer with pizza? Food and drink just go together. And if you’re someone (ahem) who might also over-indulge in their libations, and then tends to over-eat, this might be the time to think about limitations. Or cutting out alcohol all together.
- Buffets: The Evil Among Us: If you’re attending an event where there is a buffet, turn and run like the devil possess you. If not, grab the smallest plate you can and try to choose the “better for you” foods such as the veggies, fruits and maybe some shrimp. Watch for anything deepfried and sauces. Then after you’ve eaten plenty of the “good stuff”, you can maybe go back and try a small portion of something else but you’ll be fuller and less tempted to stuff your face.
- Eat Slower: Give yourself some time to enjoy the food but at a much slower pace. Don’t try to come up with some “great” idea that you’ll only eat in the first half hour of the event and find yourself stuffing your face in that time frame like you’re in some sort of pie-eating contest. Instead, as with any meal, slow down. Put your fork down often and chew your food more slowly and more often.
- The Sweet that really turns you on: Instead of trying a sampling (or more) of every dessert on the table before you, look closely at the offerings and decide what is the one item that really turns you on. Which one sets your sails aflutter? Maybe it’s something you rarely eat or have the opportunity to try. For me, this is steak. I rarely have steak so when I go out to dinner to a nice place (and I rarely go out to dinner), I want to have a steak, not something I can have at any time like pasta or chicken. So fine the one dessert that makes your mouth water, and take a small portion of that and ENJOY. Savor the taste that make your taste-buds dance and be confident enough to then walk away from the dessert table.
I hope some of these might help anyone who dreads the pitfalls of holiday eating. I feel the more conscious we are of it before we engage in these instances, the better prepared we might be to enjoy ourselves without the fear of breaking the deadly sin of Gluttony.
So go forth, my silly friends, and enjoy the pleasures of the holidays without later living with the guilt…and the extra pounds. The last thing many of us want or need is to then deal with the extra time it will take to lose it all. Especially if you’re a stress or guilt eater.
Blessings. love, safety and peace to everyone. For those in the places that will endure that fluffy white crap called snow, be extra diligent and safe. If you’re like me, I add the stress of potential breaking bones to my list of stresses every winter.
*Galavant, an alternative spelling of gallivant, is defined as to go from place to place seeing out entertainment and amusement.