It’s Thanksgiving, not the last supper

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and for many people trying to watch their weight, this holiday holds an air of excitement, as well as anxiety. This meal, out of all the meals in a year, is the one that has all of mom’s best recipes — the ones that conjure up childhood memories.

It is not, however, the last supper. Remember these practical tips to enjoy all the celebration without going overboard.

Eat earlier in the day.

If possible, try to have the big Thanksgiving meal around noon. This serves two purposes. The first purpose is that it allows time for a brisk walk following the meal, which brings me to my next bit of advice…

Make time for a family walk.

Do not underestimate the power of even a 10 minute brisk walk. Make this walk a family affair. When people ask what they can bring, just say, “tennis shoes.”

Related: Eat this, not that, to avoid holiday heartburn

Spread the food out.

The second purpose of eating earlier is that it allows another meal in the same day where all the foods not tried at the first meal can be eaten at the evening meal. So, all the foods at the table do not have to be eaten at once.

Make the first bite count.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the first bite that hits the tongue is the most powerful. It is what sends a ‘zing’ of sensation to the brain.

Most people eat so fast that that first bite bypasses the tongue and the brain never gets its pleasure. So, make the first bite count — choose a favorite food and then let it linger on the tongue just a moment so your brain has time to recognize it.

Related: How giving gratitude impacts your health

Eat slow.

Put the fork down between bites and aim to make that one plate last 20 minutes — that is how long it takes for your brain to acknowledge fullness. If you eat fast, it is possible to eat double the amount you actually need before that 20 minutes is up. So, take it slow.

Ditch the “family style” setup.

The final tip is to avoid placing the food to be served on the table. We want what we see, so put it on a counter out of sight and it may save you some additional calories.

Remembering these tips can help you relieve any anxiety about holiday food. But keep in mind that this is just one meal. Don’t be afraid to celebrate and indulge a little, but be smart and have a game plan.

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About the author

Raynelle Shelley
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Raynelle Shelley, R.D., is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a Board Certified Advanced Diabetes Manager with a Master's Degree in Nutrition. She has been on staff at Baylor Scott & White - Round Rock since 2011 working with adults on their nutrition and exercise plans while helping them understand the relationship between lifestyle and diabetes management. Raynelle is also a certified insulin pump trainer and certified to place continuous glucose monitors. Although she sees a variety of nutrition-related conditions in her practice, diabetes is her area of expertise with a personal mission to help those with diabetes live a high-quality life. Her motto is "all foods fit."

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It’s Thanksgiving, not the last supper