5 ways to save yourself from overeating this Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family, be grateful for all we have, and stuff ourselves silly. I’m not that concerned about the long term consequences of this. As I’ve said before, a single day of excess isn’t going to make you gain weight any more than a one-day juice fast is going to make you lose weight.

Nonetheless, it’s no fun to push yourself away from the table and realize – too late! – that you’ve eaten to the point of discomfort. 

Here are 5 strategies that can help you enjoy this year’s feast without regrets:

Thanksgiving Tip #1: Keep the Appetizers Light

The traditional Thanksgiving menu features a lot of heavy, rich dishes – lots of starches, creamy casseroles, and everything is dripping with butter and gravy. It’s not a light meal. Unfortunately, the pre-dinner snacks tend to be just as heavy and rich as the main event! All too often people sit down to dinner already half-full from the snacks they’ve been nibbling all afternoon while dinner is prepared. 

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See also: 3 Tips on How to Eat Less Without Feeling Hungry

 

Rather than filling up on calorie-dense appetizers like cheese and crackers, clam dip, nuts, and bacon-wrapped pineapple chunks, keep the pre-dinner snacks light: crisp radishes and snow peas with a yogurt based dip, kale chips, and steamed edamame, for example. Clearing away all the snacks about an hour before dinner will also help ensure that people sit down to the table with an appetite. 

Thanksgiving Tip #2: Use Smaller Plates

Research shows that when we use smaller plates, we serve ourselves smaller portions, consume fewer calories, but feel just as satisfied as we do after eating more calories off of larger plates. Now consider that the average size of dinner plates has gone from 9 to 13 inches over the last 30 years and our rising rates of obesity don’t seem that surprising.

See also: Why We Overeat

Do yourself and your guests a favor by setting the table with smaller plates. Grandma’s china is probably a lot smaller than your modern dinnerware. Alternatively, the salad or sandwich plates from your oversized set might be perfect.  The same holds true for things like wine glasses and forks: They larger they are, the more we consume. Downsizing your serving ware will not only help you eat a bit less without even noticing, It’ll also make your table less crowded.

Thanksgiving Tip #3: Serve the Vegetables First

If you start by filling your plate with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and candied yams, you’re likely to be out of room by the time you get to the string beans, Brussels sprouts, and carrots. Reverse the trend by helping yourself to turkey and all the vegetables first, leaving less room on the plate for the starchy fillers. 

See also: How to Get More Vegetables into Your Diet

If you’re in charge of all or part of the menu this year, try to ensure that there are at least as many vegetables as starches – and resist the temptation to smother them all in cheese, cream of mushroom soup, and/or fried onions. Some crisp and colorful vegetables, lightly steamed and topped with a bright squeeze of lemon juice or fresh herbs, provide a welcome contrast to all the other dense and heavy dishes. 

Some of my favorite vegetables sides for Thanksgiving include steamed carrots lightly glazed in ginger and a bit of butter, tender-crisp green beans tossed with cilantro and garlic, and a very lightly-dressed coleslaw or pickled vegetables.

Thanksgiving Tip #4: Choose Your Starch

One of the things that makes Thanksgiving dinner so devastating is all the redundant starches.  During the rest of the year, a dinner menu might feature a protein, a starch, and a vegetable. Or, at my house, we often skip the starch altogether and have a second (or third) vegetable instead.

But the traditional Thanksgiving menu includes a bird stuffed with bread, at least one or two types of potatoes, rolls – and often several other starches as well. And research shows that we eat more when we have a greater variety than we do when our choices are more limited. 

If you are cooking this year, consider reigning in the madness a bit. Stuffing and potatoes might be non-negotiable, but would anyone really miss the rolls? Is it really necessary to serve mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, and scalloped potatoes?  Even if you have no control over the menu, you can also choose to eat only one of the many starch dishes this year instead of all of them.

Thanksgiving Tip #5: You Don’t Have to Sample Everything

When we go to a restaurant, we don’t feel that we have to order every single thing on the menu just because the chef has prepared them. We choose our favorite item, and feel no sense of loss or deprivation. But somehow when faced with a Thanksgiving buffet of 20 different dishes, we feel duty-bound to sample every single one. 

By all means, marvel over the beautiful array of colors and aromas and compliment the chef(s) on the amazing spread. Then, just as you would when handed a menu full of delicious options, choose what you’d like to enjoy that evening…and enjoy the heck out of it. Likewise, when it comes to dessert, it is not necessary to have a “small” piece of all 5 desserts any more than you’d order every item on a dessert menu. 

There’s a sort of madness that sets in at Thanksgiving, as if this will be the last pumpkin pie we will ever see. But Thanksgiving actually comes every year – and the menu doesn’t change all that much! Barring catastrophe, your life is likely to include many more pumpkin pies, all of which will taste very similar to the dozens of pumpkin pies you’ve had before.  When I remind myself of that, it seems to put things back into perspective, allowing me to make my decision based on how much room I actually have left in my stomach and which dessert looks particularly appealing or unusual. 

This article originally appeared on QuickAndDirtyTips.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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10 foods you should never eat before bed

10 foods you should never eat before bed

Noise, light, and temperature — these are three aspects in your external environment that affect the way you sleep. But did you know that food affects sleep too? Yep, it’s true. And it turns out there are definitely certain foods to avoid before bed if you want to get a sound night’s sleep. Here, learn about how food affects the way you sleep and find out what not to eat before bed.

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No matter how tired you are, ultimately your body decides when and how well your sleep. An area that has particular sway is your stomach. Specifically, we’re talking about the foods that enter your body under the guise of good taste but show their true colors when you try to get to sleep.

Research even suggests that a bad night’s sleep can lead you to crave more unhealthy snack and junk food the next day. So, given the fact your nighttime food choices can have lasting health ramifications, here’s our flagged list of foods to avoid before bed.

Which foods exactly have the potential to ruin your sleep? Here’s a list of the top 10 things to avoid before sleep.

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Before you reach for a candy bar before bed, know this: Chocolate is packed with sugar, which can have a serious impact on how well you sleep. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicinefound that participants who ate more sugar and saturated fats experienced less deep sleep and woke up more throughout the night. (Read more about how sugar affects sleep.) Chocolate also contains some caffeine, which can stimulate the nervous system and keep you awake for hours.

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Sometimes you’re just going to crave a juicy bacon hamburger, but this is definitely a food you want to avoid eating before bed. The offending sleep ingredient in this meal is the high-fat content which triggers the production of acid in the stomach and leads to sleep-inhibiting acid reflux—a no-no before bed. Doctors recommend avoiding heartburn-triggering foods including anything fried or fatty too close to bedtime to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.

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Chicken or any type of protein on its own takes a lot of energy to digest, and lengthening this process could throw your sleep schedule out of whack. Protein contains an amino acid known as tyrosine, which promotes brain activity. A pairing of protein and carbs, however, is one of the best things to eat before bed. Having a snack that includes one serving of protein and one serving of carbs (such as an apple with almond butter) will help keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent you from waking up in the middle of the night.

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Ah, one of the most classic late-night meals, pizza, is actually not the best option to eat before bed—no matter how tasty it is. Cheese is rich in fat and tomato sauce is acidic, making this popular late night dish exactly the wrong thing to eat before bed. To avoid nighttime heartburn that could prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, doctors suggest making lunchtime your biggest meal of the day and quitting eating three hours before bed.

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It’s always nice to enjoy dessert after dinner, but ice cream isn’t the best option for sleep. Dairy can have a ton of fat and even low-fat ice creams can be high in sugar — which means you probably will not be getting a ton of sleep if you eat ice cream late in the evening.

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This doesn’t just have to do with the dairy in the milk but also the sugar in the cereal, which spikes your blood sugar and puts your body’s fat “storage” to work through the night. Sugar doesn’t just lead to poor sleep, though. Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that when sleep deprived, you tend to eat more junk food.

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This might seem like an outlier on our list of what not to eat before bed, but celery is a natural diuretic. That means it quickly pushes water through your system—ultimately leading you into the bathroom instead of your bed. Here’s how to stay hydrated without waking up to pee in the middle of the night.

Getty Images | Sean Gallup

A big bowl of pasta is total comfort food until you try to fall asleep that is. Pasta is straight carbohydrates which, like sugar, activates that fat “storage” system in your body and then lets it run through the night. A better option would be whole-wheat pasta, which is made from complex carbs that are higher in fiber and won’t spike your blood sugar.

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Thinking of placing an order for chicken tikka masala at 10 p.m.? Think again. Spices like cayenne can get your blood flowing and increase your body temperature which is the opposite of where it needs to go for a good sleep. Some people even report that eating spicy foods before bed gives them crazy dreams.

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While not solid foods, these two villains are in a league of their own when it comes to sleep. Coffee will keep you wide-eyed thanks to its caffeine content (which will stay in your system long after you drink it) and alcohol will prevent you from reaching a restorative deep sleep, so it’s best to just stay away from these two altogether. Alcohol can also make existing sleep conditions, like sleep apnea, worse.

Now that you know all about the foods to avoid before sleep, what about the best foods to eat before bed? Take a look at our list of good foods to eat before bed.

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This article originally appeared on Saatva.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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