Thanksgiving might be where it all begins for Canadians: holiday season weight gain. In the United States, it is estimated that Americans gain between five and 10 pounds between their Thanksgiving and New Years. Other more recent studies show that people actually only gain about a pound, with men gaining slightly more weight than women. Either sets of data may be worrisome for Canadians, since our Thanksgiving festivities begin several weeks earlier.
At my table this weekend, there was chicken, sweet potato with marshmallow, cranberry sauce, maple roasted Brussels sprouts and salad. For dessert, there was an apple-cranberry crumble and two kinds of cheesecake. Plus frozen yogurt and wine.
I'm not sure about everyone else, but I have a tendency to overeat when the food is particularly delicious. I pick at the food as I'm making it, I eat standing while serving my guests, and in the chaos of kids running around and the dishes piling up, I end up eating more, thinking that I forgot to eat to begin with. By the time I'm really stuffed, it's dessert. And like everyone else, I eat some more.
I'm trying to get better. I'm trying not to make myself sick. To be more conscious. To make sure my pants don't rip open as I'm wearing them. (It actually happened once. According to my son, the seams tearing apart sounded like a bomb exploding!)
So how can we avoid the holiday weight gain as we move from Thanksgiving to Halloween to Christmas and New Years? I've spoken to friends and family and solicited some of their best advice.
Wear jeans to dinner so you can feel how tight they're getting as you eat. Nothing serves as a better reminder to stop eating than when you have to undo your top button.
Keep going to the gym or being physically active. If you stick to your routine you won't have to sweat it when you over indulge every now and then.
Drink a glass of water before you eat and between courses. It will help you eat less.
Sit down when you eat. Enjoy your company and conversation. In doing so, you are more likely to realize when you're full and eat less than you would when you stand and eat on the fly.
Don't be afraid to indulge. If you deprive yourself and are always on your best behaviour you might binge when your willpower wears thin.
Cut back on alcohol consumption entirely, if you can.
To help me stay on track, I recently bought the new Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook by Angela Liddon. I loved the first one and was excited when the second recently came out. I've been experimenting with recipes from her vegan cookbook, and eating more vegetables in the process. Every morning I'll have a breakfast bowl or smoothie. It gives me energy to start the day and the motivation to stay on track. (No more ripping pants for me!)
Sometimes, however, I find that I'm in a rush and making these smoothies eats into my morning routine of getting lunches packed, breakfast on the table and two boys out the door on time for school. One friend suggested making "smoothie jars," or pre-measuring smoothie ingredients into jars and making enough jars for each member of the family to last for a few days. That way all you have to do in the morning is blend and go.
If you're looking for a way to maintain your weight as we enter the holiday season, here is an example of one of the smoothie bowls I've started making for myself in the morning. Enjoy!
Chocolate Smoothie Bowl
To a blender, add 1 frozen banana, two handfuls of fresh spinach, a quarter of an avocado, two Medjool dates, four ice cubes, one Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder and enough unsweetened almond milk to enable the ingredients to blend smoothly. Blend until combined. Pour into a bowl, top with a small handful of walnuts or a Tbsp of almond butter and eat while making lunches, cleaning up from breakfast and running out the door.
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