It’s the holidays! And getting into the holiday spirit requires eating, doesn’t eat?
As a child, we always celebrated the year-end holidays at my grandparents, who we affectionately called Nan and Hank. It was always an exciting time. Upon arrival, we were greeted with smiles, warm embraces and sweet kisses. My grandmother had stashes of candy in nearly every room of her house, so we kids began the treasure hunt to find all the candy dishes. Our parents visited with the other adults while cracking and eating nuts. They may have had a bowl full of candy too… (I don’t remember them eating candy, except for my dad, who, I think, was just as excited as the kids were, to search and sample each candy dish) but for the most part, the adults had no idea how much candy we ate! So, after our fill of candy, if our taste buds still craved more sweetness, … well, the freezer was stuffed full of all sorts of delicacies. You know them, that cool, sweet, smooth, creamy, delicacy that slides down so easily and feels so good while we indulge… I especially liked the ice cream sandwiches, or Bon-Bon’s! But there were healthier choices too, like weight watcher fudge bars! Cookies were in the cookie jar and well, let’s not forget the apple, pumpkin and pecan pies, brownies, and other baked goods!
Soon, it would be time for dinner. The tables were beautifully arranged, laden with so much food that we could have fed the entire neighborhood. And in fact, we would eat leftovers for nearly an entire week! We had turkey and dressing with cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, lima beans, green bean casserole, corn pudding, sweet potato casserole, and stewed tomatoes. The mixed fruit gelatin salad was one of my favorites. It had strawberries and pineapple mixed in the gelatin and was topped with cool whip. There was always a large tray of colorful raw veggies and dip, rolls and bread with spread, and pecan nuts (sometimes candied), and other dishes I never touched like sauerkraut and stewed tomatoes. But to someone, these were quite delectable! Of course with the meal, drinks of various sorts were served, I usually had juice or a virgin strawberry daiquiri, yummy! Then as soon as you were stuffed to the gills, the pumpkin, apple and pecan pie were served. I always had warm pumpkin pie a’ la mode that melts and fills in all the possible cracks that could possibly remain in the stomach. It all tasted so good going down! Then all the adults would barely be able to get up and wobble over to the living room, sit down and complain about having eaten enough to feed a horse, or how they didn’t need to eat for a week, or how they blew their diet; while us kids would parade around and would have all the adults judge who’s belly was the fullest as we arched back to make it protrude the most! Then we were off to play, leaving the adults to their misery…
Does this sound familiar? And we are sure our scale is broken, for how can it possibly be right reading 10 pounds heavier? Or we need a new glucose monitor because our sugars are just reading so abnormally high, something must be wrong!
A picture is worth a thousand words! And Dr. Howard Shapiro, in his book Picture Perfect Weight-Loss helps us have a clear view of our choices as the season approaches.
He presents a typical modest Thanksgiving dinner:
- A cocktail with peanuts.
- A couple of pastry hors d’oeuvres.
- A tiny bit of cheese and pate to start.
For the dinner:
- A few slices of turkey with trimmings along with
- A glass of wine and of course
- A wedge of pie
Now would you agree that is a much better meal than what I had for our family tradition for Thanksgiving? Dr. Shapiro’s Dinner looks quite tasty and the portions are small but filling.
Do you think you would eat this amount for thanksgiving?
Now let’s consider the calories in Dr. Shapiro’s Thanksgiving Dinner:
- 3 drinks = 530 calories
- ½ cup mixed nuts = 440 calories
- 3 oz pastry = 380 calories
- 2 oz pate = 240 calories
- 5 crackers = 80 calories
- 6 oz turkey, light and dark meat with skin = 360 calories
- 4 Tbsp. gravy = 120 calories
- 1 cup stuffing = 400 calories
- 2 small candied yams = 200 calories
- ½ cup buttered green beans = 60 calories
- Pecan pie wedge = 680 calories
When we add all that up it come to a whopping 3710 calories! And if that is 3710 calories, we don’t even want to imagine what my childhood Thanksgiving dinner was calorie-wise.
Are you still satisfied with Dr. Shapiro’s first Thanksgiving meal?
Would you like to see something better? Something better than 3710 calories? Can we do better and still be happy and merry? Can we shave off thousands of calories and still have a meal as tasty and filling as this one? Let’s find out!
Fortunately, Dr. Shapiro gives us another picture:
- 2 cups low-calorie punch – 40 calories
- 5 cherry tomatoes – 10 calories
- 2 cups assorted vegetables – 30-50 calories
- 3 Tbsp. onion/chive dip (low-fat) – 30 calories
- 7 grilled shiitake mushrooms – 30 calories
- 2 Tbsp. soy dipping sauce – 10 calories
- 6-oz. baked yam – 150 calories
- 1 cup green beans with herbs – 40 calories
- ¾ cup ginger-fruit whole-grain stuffing (low-fat) – 80 calories
- 2½ scallops – 80 calories
- 4-oz. white-meat turkey or vegetarian substitute – 200 calories
- 2 Tbsp. cranberry relish – 20 calories
- 3 fl. oz. wine – 60 calories
- 1 cup pumpkin custard – 150 calories
Now Dr. Shapiro’s Thanksgiving Meal 2 is still a very pleasing and beautiful Thanksgiving meal, and Meal 2 shaves off 2,790 calories from Meal 1, for a total of 930 calories remaining for Meal 2.
Now, that still is a lot of calories for one meal. So if you want to shave off more calories you can choose to eat your calories instead of drinking them.
- You can drink water (which is the best liquid for your body, anyway!), add a squeeze of lemon or lime if you’d like.
- Omit the scallops, reduce the turkey to 3 ounces, and eat only a half of the yam (3-oz),
- reduce the stuffing and custard to ½ cup each.
Now you have shaved off an additional 320 calories and the total calories for the meal would be 610 calories.
Now that is something better, something more workable to keep blood sugar levels fairly constant, with a balanced carbohydrate to fat/protein/vegetable (non-carbohydrate) (6 carb choices and 6 non-carb choices, or 90 grams carbohydrates and 20 grams of fiber). You may also need to adjust more for your calorie needs at other meals in the day.
Your idea of appropriate selection of dishes might be different from mine or Dr. Shapiro’s, and that is okay as long as you get the concepts of how to enjoy the holiday without gaining weight and keep your blood sugar levels normal. Eating your lower calorie foods such as your vegetables first will help fill you up and you will have less room for the higher calorie foods.
Eating just at meal times and avoiding grazing will help blood sugar regulation and weight management.
One of the best things you can do after you eat is to go for a stroll; or what we call a digestive walk at Abundant Health Wellness Center. This will aid in digestion and help keep blood sugar levels under control.
Give your Stomach A Gift for the Holidays! Avoid overeating and go for a digestive walk after meals!
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If you would like to talk specifics about your holiday meals, call to schedule an appointment. Together, we can include the foods you want to enjoy while still accomplishing your health goals.