It was Thanksgiving, and Steve was staring at the table. All the food was laid out, smelling great, looking great. And yet all Steve had was an empty plate and a puzzled look on his face as he scanned the table.
“What’s up, Steve? Having a hard time deciding on which deep first?”
“No,” he said and kind of shook his head. “I don’t think there’s anything here I could eat.”
I looked at the table and I looked up at him. “How about one of everything, Steve?”
He didn’t think that was too funny.
“Well, none of the stuff fits my diet.”
“Oh,” I answered. “That’s too bad. What kind of Diet are you on?”
“Well,” said Steve. “I’m only allowed to eat certain clean things. It’s going to help me lose weight and reset my metabolism.”
“Wow, that sounds good,” I said as I scooped up another piece of Pumpkin Pie and put it on my plate. “How long have you been on the Diet?”
“Well, it’s only supposed to last a month,” he said, “and I’m halfway into it. I don’t want to blow it now.”
“Well that’s good. I hope you see good results with that,” and I put whipped cream on top of my pumpkin pie and walked away, really thankful that I was not Steve.
I think some of us had been there before. Heck, I think some of us have been that person before. You’re trying the latest fad crash diet, 28 days of this, 30 days of that, six weeks of nothing, all in hopes to lose weight or reset your metabolism (whatever that means). And while you might have suffered and drudged through 30 days of eating nothing but air odds are I bet you felt like garbage some of time. And I’ll bet the first day that the diet was over you figured you owe yourself a little bit of a celebration, right? So you ate every single thing you weren’t allowed to eat because you’ve earned it.
Listen, I know the holidays can be tough. You’re trying to stay disciplined. You’re trying to stay on track. You’ve made so much progress with your health and fitness that you don’t want to roll a hand grenade into it. What if I told you there’s a way that you can actually enjoy the holidays, enjoy your friends, family, AND YOUR FOOD without totally blowing up all the progress you’ve made?
Listen, it’s a real thing and it can really happen. So here are some quick, easy tips to actually enjoy your holiday. Eat the food that’s on the table and not completely sabotage your progress.
Drink plenty of water.
I know it sounds silly, but the most common mistake people make is that they mistake thirst for hunger.
People think they’re hungry, but they’re actually thirsty. I’ve done it myself. I know I felt stuffed. I know my stomach was full. But I had a craving so I go and get more food. It doesn’t make any sense at all when in fact, all I need is water.
So do this. Before you sit down to eat, before you load up your plate, have a nice full glass of water. About 10 to 20 minutes later see if you’re as hungry as before. I’ll bet you you’re not. Sure you’re still be able to eat some food, but you won’t stuff yourself with all of that extra food. Drink plenty of water. Not only does it help you stay hydrated, but you won’t feel as hungry either.
Drink a protein shake before you go out to eat.
A protein shake is a great idea. Now notice I didn’t say smoothie. I said protein shake. Getting a shake of 20 to 30 grams of high quality protein in your stomach is going to do wonders not only for your muscles as they recover and build and grow, but it’s also going to do wonders for helping you feel satiated or full. You won’t be as hungry if you have a belly full of high quality protein. The great thing about high quality protein and good quality fats, in addition to all the benefits to your body, is that they help you feel fuller for longer. So grab a protein shake, chug it down, then head out to dinner.
Back to that whole smoothie thing. We often times think smoothies are a good idea, but they’re often laden with sugars and sweets. Keep it simple. A scoop of your favorite protein powder in a shaker cup and go at it.
Eat all the plants on your plate first.
Now I’m not talking about the sweet potato casserole that has maple syrup and marshmallows and all that sugary sweetness in it. I’m talking about honest to goodness plants. Eat the green beans first. Eat your salad first. Load up on those things. Go ahead and fill your stomach with nutrient rich, but low calorie plants and you’ll have less room for the pumpkin pie, the cranberry sauce, and that third helping of stuffing (which happens to be my favorite).
So get a nice big full salad. Make a smart choice on your salad dressing. Eat that first. Go ahead and grab the green beans. I know they were sauteed in butter, but a little fat won’t hurt. Get those veggies in first and you’ll have less room for the poor choices.
Eat high quality proteins next.
I know we talked about the protein shake, but if you take up more room on your plate with lean turkey, there will be less room on your plate for the things that aren’t so good for you. So after you’ve eaten those plants, get the lean turkey next. After making two high quality choices like that there’s even less room now for bad choices.
Eat The “Bad” Food.
Don’t be a scrooge. Don’t sit there and deny yourself all the delicious food. And certainly don’t be that person who broadcast to everybody that you’re not eating any of that “unclean” stuff. My favorite tip for the holidays is what we call a “No Thank You Helping”. The idea of a No Thank You Helping started with our kids. Instead of having them deny food that they don’t think they like, which come to find out later they actually do like, we encourage them to take a take a No Thank You Helping. A No Thank You Helping is a really small serving. Don’t fill up a whole quarter of your plate with something you know you don’t like or aren’t going to eat. Instead, take a much smaller helping. Not only is this polite to the host, but if you do end up liking it and eating it you’re not going to eat as large a portion.
So now we could talk about the stuff that’s not as good for you, but you still might want to eat anyway, whether it’s the cranberry sauce loaded with extra sugar or the aforementioned sweet potato casserole, or even that slice of Pumpkin Pie. Take a smaller serving. Take a smaller slice. You can still indulge a little bit and enjoy that food, but you won’t feel so bad for completely falling off the wagon face first and being dragged through the mud for two or three miles.
That’s it guys. Those are some super easy tips to actually enjoy your holidays and not sabotage your weight loss efforts. Listen, friends, it’s Thanksgiving. It’s time to celebrate with family, friends, to be thankful for all you have and be thankful for the hope of everything good that lies ahead. Don’t spend the holidays being a Grinch because you’re choosing to restrict yourself to straw, celery and a little bit of water for the next six weeks of your life.
In the long run, it’s simply not worth it. You won’t remember the extra pound and a half you lost (and later gained back) because you didn’t eat anything that one Thanksgiving. But what you will remember is the laughs and the good times you’ve had with family and friends that one Thanksgiving because you weren’t a Grinch about your diet.
Happy thanksgiving. Friends.