When Thanksgiving rolls around, the excitement for a dinner comprised of all of our favorite dishes reaches its peak. However, so does the dread of potential weight gain. Considering most people’s love for buttered rolls, turkey and stuffing, it is easy to see why. As Thanksgiving approaches, we would never tell you not to enjoy such a fun, family-filled day. Instead, we recommend you utilize these healthy eating tips to help you get through the upcoming holiday season ‒ without stressing over your waistline.
Tips for Making Your Plate
Although you can forgo heavier Thanksgiving dishes by preparing more health-conscious alternatives, it is not always possible if you are not hosting the meal. In the event that you are attending someone else’s dinner, keep the following tips in mind. They will help you cut out calories that can be easily avoided.
- Choose white meat – As turkey is often on the Thanksgiving menu, this tip is easy to abide by. Turkey meat is lean, and rich in iron, zinc, potassium, and B vitamins. Make sure to avoid any meats that are deep-fried, and choose those that are roasted or baked.
- Utilize whole grains – The stuffing may be hard to pass on, but its contents can be easily replaced with an equally delicious whole-grain mixture. Try a recipe that uses quinoa, rice, berries or nuts.
- Pass on the mash – Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving favorite, but they are one of the higher calorie dishes. If mashed potatoes are a must, find recipes that contain healthier additions, like light sour cream and fat-free milk. If possible, a baked potato without toppings is the better option.
- Don’t forget your greens – We grow up being told to eat our greens, but they are not recommend when baked into a casserole. Casseroles are loaded with butter, salt and carbs. Stick to greens that are baked and lightly seasoned.
- Fresh, not canned – This rule applies to a variety of Thanksgiving sides and dressings. Most canned items contain large amounts of sugar and preservatives. –A homemade gravy can contain as little fat as you choose, and berries will taste better fresh.
- Liquids contain calories – Although it is in the name, people overlook the fact that sweet tea is extremely high in sugar. Have a glass of water with lemon, instead.
- Cut out what you can – While enjoying your favorite dishes, there are a few simple things you can cut out, or off, to lower the amount of calories you consume – such as pie crust. High in sugar and butter, removing a flaky crust can trim more than 100 calories and 7 grams of fat per slice.
- Don’t overeat – The most difficult part of Thanksgiving dinner is knowing when to cut yourself off. Research has found that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to “tell” your brain it’s full. Most Thanksgiving menus are bad enough, but overeating can easily double your caloric intake.
Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving
When putting your plate together, it’s easy to be conscious about your choices. Once the meal is over, we tend to let our guard down. It is common for people to flock to the couch for football, or remain seated at the dining table. Both can be your downfall ‒ especially if food is within reach. Instead, try to stay active following dinner.
One way to do so is by enjoying the company of your friends and family. If you walk around and speak to people, you are less likely to keep eating. You can also avoid leftovers by assisting with the cleanup, or washing dishes. And if staying in the house is too tempting, consider going for a walk. This will not only burn a few extra calories, but you will feel better than if you let the heavy food settle. For added moral support, ask other guests to join you. Chances are you’ll have a few takers in similar situations.
In the days following, make sure to visit the gym and drink at least six eight-ounce glasses of water. This will help relieve bloat from excess salt. You can also enjoy nutrient-packed foods, such as yogurt and vegetables.
At Solutions Weight Loss, we understand the stress of keeping your weight in check during the holidays. If you slip back a little, do not give up. With a tailored plan, encouragement and medical supervision, we can help you undo any weight gain. Contact us today to speak to our team and get started!
Diets get a bad reputation, particularly those that include calorie counting. But the Zone Diet is teaching people that calorie counting is merely a way to better control portions. A standard for healthy eating habits, portions are often overlooked ‒ yet remain one of the most effective methods for weight loss. Learn how this popular diet works, as well as the benefits and potential results, with our Zone Diet 101.
What is the Zone Diet?
First published in 1995, the Zone Diet was created 30 years ago by biochemist Dr. Barry Sears. Originally developed to prevent early death from heart attacks, it is said to balance hormones and reduce inflammation – which Sears proposes are a factor in weight gain, illness and aging. By keeping your hormones balanced, or “in the zone,” your metabolism will work more efficiently. Dieters are said to lose between 1 to 1.5 pounds of fat a week. To achieve these results, followers eat a ratio of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat.
Zone Diet Blocks
The Zone Diet can be followed using one of two methods, both of which are equally effective. Beginner – or first-time dieters – may prefer to start with the hand-eye method before progressing to the Zone food blocks. Each is based around a “zone-friendly” plate, with portions from the three major nutrient groups: fat, protein and carbs. First, divide your plate into thirds and fill it as follows:
- One-third of your plate should consist of lean protein, close to the size and thickness of your palm.
- Two-thirds of your plate will be carbs, preferably with a low glycemic index ‒ to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
- A small portion of monounsaturated fats.
The hand-eye method is a simplified version that does not require calorie-counting. By using your palm size and eyes, you can estimate a correct portion size. Your five fingers are a reminder to eat five times a day, and to never go without eating for more than five hours. For example, each meal may consist of the recommended carbs and protein, with a snack of healthy fats in between.
Once you have mastered the hand-eye method, or if you prefer calorie counting, the Zone block method will help you precisely balance every meal. Adult males are recommended around 1,500 calories daily, and adult women 1,200. A Zone block is made up of one of each nutrient block:
- Protein block: 7 grams
- Carb block: 9 grams
- Fat block: 1.5 grams (or 3 grams for a fat-free protein)
The number of zone blocks you consume in a day varies by your weight, height, waist and hip measurements. On average, an adult male will consume 14 Zone blocks a day, while a woman will consume 11. As an example, a typical meal will likely consist of three to five Zone blocks, but a snack will only be one.
Approved Zone Diet Food List:
Lean Protein – Skinless chicken or turkey, fish or shellfish, beef, pork, lamb, egg whites, tofu or soy, cheese, milk or yogurt.
Carbohydrates – Mainly vegetables, some grains and a little fruit – such as peppers, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, squash, oatmeal, quinoa, couscous, cranberries, guavas, citrus and more.
Fat – Nuts, chia seeds, or natural peanut butter, avocados, oils and tahini.
Foods You Should Avoid:
Unlike most other diets, there are no foods that are banned in the Zone diet. However, the following should be avoided, as they increase inflammation:
High-sugar fruits and vegetables – This group can include bananas, pineapple, raisins, cranberries, peas, potatoes and corn.
Processed foods – From soda, to cereal and bread – this group includes items that are processed, refined or contain added sugars. Other items include pasta, bagels, muffins, cookies, cakes and candy.
Coffee and tea – Acceptable from time-to-time; however, a minimum of eight eight-ounce glasses of water should be consumed daily.
Pros and Cons of The Zone Diet
The Zone Diet is lax, with its own share of pros and cons. It is a long-term diet meant to improve your overall health, rather than stop once a goal is met. For this reason, it is important that you choose a method you are able to maintain. While calories do count, you are not required to count them, unless you choose to do so. When dining out, Zone-friendly plates are easily found. However, you will likely have to plan to take some home. If you prefer eating in, an abundance of recipes and meal plans are available online. And most importantly, you will never go hungry or find yourself bored. Despite being portioned, these meals will keep you full and allow for delicious dining.
At Solutions Weight Loss, we encourage all of our patients to seek a lifestyle change, rather than a temporary diet. Not only will you see long-lasting results, but you will feel them! Dr. Newsome, and our team, can help you achieve your weight loss goals and maintain a healthier life. Everyone is different and deserves personalized recommendations and individualized attention. Contact us today!
Every diet plan – including the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet and the ketogenic diet – work on the principle of modifying the portion of certain foods or food groups consumed on a daily basis, as well as eliminating certain types of food entirely. Now, the Whole30 diet program is sweeping the nation as not just a weight loss program (it pointedly does not use the word “diet”), but a supportive community of devotees dedicated to achieving and maintaining a truly transformative quality of life experience.
Developed by co-founders Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig in 2009, Whole30 is designed to change the way you eat and feel in 30 days. The website describes the program as “… a short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.”
While that sounds like a pretty tall order, Whole30 achieves all of this and more by explicitly targeting the individual’s emotional and habitual relationship with food. The program revolves around breaking unhealthy behavioral patterns, putting a full-stop to stress-related comfort eating, and reducing carbohydrate and sugar cravings. Many people on the Whole30 program report having achieved food freedom within the 30-day period.
The purpose is to understand how your body responds to some foods. You eliminate these foods completely and then gradually reinstate them after 30 days. If you think these foods still work well for you, fine, and in case you find something that helps your body feel good, that’s even better!
The foods on the Whole30 program
Whole30 doesn’t ask you to leave your favorite foods forever. You are only asked to abstain from eating some foods and beverages for 30 days, and then slowly reinstate them. As mentioned earlier, the aim is to understand how your body responds to some foods.
Here is a partial list of permitted foods:
- Vegetables – Eat as many as you want.
- Fruits –Allowed in moderation, due to limits on sugar intake.
- Seafood – Allowed, including shellfish.
- Unprocessed meats – Make sure they don’t contain added sugar or preservatives.
- Eggs – No limit.
- Nuts and seeds – Allowed, except for peanuts (which is a legume, rather than a tree nut).
- Coffee – Allowed, but only without milk products or sugar.
- Oils and ghee – Olive and coconut oil are allowed, as well as ghee (clarified butter).
Following is a partial list of foods to avoid during the 30-day program:
- Dairy products – Includes cheese, butter (except for ghee), yogurt, cow’s milk, kefir and cream (sour or otherwise).
- Legumes – No members of this family, including soy (soy sauce, tofu, edamame or miso), peas, chickpeas, peanuts and lentils.
- Grains – Includes wheat, corn, quinoa, sprouted grains, millet, rye, bulgur, buckwheat, amaranth and sorghum.
- Alcohol – Abstain completely during the 30-day period, including using alcohol for cooking. Vanilla extract is also on the forbidden list.
- Added sugar in all forms – including artificial sweetener – This includes sugar in natural forms, such as maple or agave syrup. Check the label when shopping, as many items include some type or amount of sugar.
- Junk food – Almost needless to say. No baked goods, snack foods, ice cream, etc.
- MSG, sulfites and carrageenan – Common additives in processed foods. Carrageenan is a common additive in natural foods, and has been implicated in digestive system conditions.
The Whole30 community and forum
As mentioned earlier, Whole30 provides plenty of support and encouragement for those following the program. The Whole30 Forum is designed to help navigate the Whole30 program, ask questions and seek advice from the program’s experts. Those who have been through the program can share their success stories and provide motivation for others.
From features, updates and news from the Whole30 team to rules, regulations, recipes and books, you have everything on the Whole30 Forum that you wish to know and ask. There is something for everyone on the Forum – how to follow Whole30 with a medical condition, Whole30 for athletes and Whole30 while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Interacting with others sharing the Whole30 experience creates a community feeling, which greatly helps boost motivation. The Whole30 Community is like a close-knit family where you can get answers to questions, as well as track your meals, progress and results – and even share your recipes and success stories.
If the Whole30 program has had a positive effect on your life, you can become a certified Whole30 coach and help others by offering your resources and services to your local community.
We at Solutions Weight Loss encourage everyone to follow a healthy lifestyle by whatever means achieves the best result for each individual. If you’ve tried other programs and diets but feel that a medically supervised weight loss program may be what you need to achieve long-term results, contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. William E. Newsome and learn about your options.