Thanksgiving happens every year. The biggest food feast of them all! This year will look a lot different given the pandemic. Gone are the days of big family gatherings with multiple types of desserts. But rest assured, we’re all still planning on eating delicious food.
If you’re trying to diet on Thanksgiving, don’t. The pandemic has already put enough stress and strain on our lives. This is a day of celebration, not restriction. Be mindful about what you’re eating, but please don’t count calories, macros or carbs.
Here’s a secret. You don’t HAVE to stuff yourself at Thanksgiving, or any other holiday, for that matter. It’s not like you’re never going to have pumpkin pie or mashed potatoes and gravy again. Why the need to stuff? It’s just silly.
Below are some tips to avoid overeating on Thanksgiving.
- Don’t skip meals. This will only make you cranky and ravenous by the time dinner rolls around and you’ll likely overeat. Eat lighter meals throughout the day to maintain energy and don’t starve yourself.
- Eat what you like, but in smaller amounts. No one says you have to have a full serving of potatoes or green bean casserole. Take a spoonful or two of what you like and leave room for dessert (if you even want dessert). Not everyone has a sweet tooth.
- Speaking of dessert- why not make 1/2 recipes this year? Anything that has an even number of eggs can be easily split in half. With a small crowd, you’ll have plenty for everyone.
- Go easy on alcohol. Fine to have a cocktail or two, but keep in mind, alcohol increases your appetite, meaning you’ll eat more once it’s time to join everyone to eat.
- Listen to your body. Think about how you’ll feel after taking that second helping before you plop it on your plate. Is it worth the heart burn, tight pants or poor sleep due to overeating? Probably not.
Pay attention to hunger cues. Say grace and have grace. God willing, we’ll have more holidays and more holiday meals for years to come.
I received an interesting food sample in the mail the other day: a product called Crunchsters made out of sprouted mung beans. If you’re not familiar with mung beans, they are the tiniest member of the legume (AKA bean) family and can be eaten raw or cooked. Sprouted mung beans are similar in texture to dried soy nuts and equally nutritious. They don’t call them “mighty mung beans” for nothin’!
A little over a 1 oz. serving of sprouted mung beans provides 7 grams or plant-based protein, 5 grams of dietary fiber and 20% of the daily value for magnesium- an essential mineral needed for blood pressure and bone health. They are relatively low in sodium (7% of the daily value) and also provide potassium, iron and manganese. The sample pack I received included 4 different flavors: smokey balsamic, sea salt, beyond bacon and BBQ. The beans may be eaten solo as a snack or used as a topper for a recipe.The whole pack of Crunchsters provides 180 calories, which is totally reasonable for a mid-day snack.
Given the warm temps, I opted for a big salad as part of my lunch today. I had some cannellini beans on hand as well as kalamata olives and a few cherry tomatoes. I like to make my own dressing since I think salads taste fresher than with store bought dressing. If you see them in the store (available in Whole Foods or Amazon), give them a try! #freesample #smokey #balsamic #mungbeans #vegan #nonGMO #organic #crunchsters
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
5 kalamata olives, cut in half
5 cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 Tbsp. cannellini or other white bean (navy, Great Nothern, etc.)
1 Tbsp. Crunchsters smokey balsamic mung beans
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
- Place romaine in a bowl and top with tomatoes, olives, white beans and Crunchsters mung beans.
- Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. Drizzle dressing over salad and serve.
Makes 1 salad
If the anxiety of having to be housebound while watching another news conference about COVID19 is making you eat more, you’re not alone. When we’re under stress (mental or physical), the hormone cortisol can really do a number on our appetites. Lack of sleep related to constant worry also raises cortisol levels. Kids being off school, spouses working from home and gyms and rec centers being closed will likely take a toll on our waistlines. Eating due to boredom, fear or frustration isn’t helping either. Call it the “quarantine 15” or the “COVID-19”, we’d all like to avoid weight gain right now.
The good news is that you CAN prevent the possible ‘spread’ from COVID19. If you’re an emotional eater, now is the time to get it under control. Here are a few tips to help.
- Keep a journal. Writing down what you eat, when you eat and how you feel will help you keep an eye on eating patterns and emotions. It will keep you accountable for what you eat in addition to making you pay attention to hunger VS habit or emotion.
- Don’t hoard food. While a few US cities are forcing people to stay in (which is good advice for all of us), there is no need to hoard food. The more food you have in your frig or pantry, the more you’ll either eat or throw away if not used. In the age of Instacart and Amazon delivery, you can have food (and toilet paper) delivered if needed.
- Limit purchases of snack foods, alcohol and other empty calories. Sure, we’ve all been joking about turning to baking or drinking to ride out this pandemic. You may want to save your money (and liver function) during this uncertain time. Keep up the water intake- hydration prevents headaches and fatigue.
- Eat scheduled meals. Work and school life is completely upside down right now, but keeping your family on some semblance of a schedule will help ease their anxiety and help regulate appetite. While this doesn’t have to be militant, keep meals roughly 4 to 5 hours apart.
- Keep eating produce. Just because every article you read says “stock up on non-perishables”, you can still buy, prepare and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Until we run out of romaine, we’re going to keep up the salads in my house.
- Be creative. Have a little extra ‘thyme’? Try a new recipe to get you out of your food rut. While you may crave comfort food, it’s OK to mix things up (literally) now and then.
- Get outside! I am so inspired by how many neighbors I see outside with their families and pets. As the weather warms up, take advantage of biking, hiking or just walking around the block. You can still keep 6 feet of social distance between you and a neighbor or friend while outside.
- Go to bed already! It’s tempting to stay up later if you don’t have a normal work or school schedule. But your body and brain still crave 7 to 8 hours sleep to remain healthy. If possible, keep your usual sleep and wake cycle, even on weekends. Getting enough sleep keeps cravings down, maintains energy and prevents depression. It also keeps your immune system humming!
- Maintain food rules. Eat in your kitchen or dining room only. Don’t allow snacks in your kids’ rooms or snacks while playing board games or watching TV. Mindless eating contributes to the “COVID-19 spread”.
- Seek support. Many mental health providers as well as dietitians are providing virtual visits (telehealth) and phone support to clients. If you’re interested in this service, don’t hesitate to email me to set up an appt.
Keep washing your hands and stay healthy friends!
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
I had the opportunity earlier to talk with Dan Wells of Fox 19 about cancer prevention. It’s awfully hard to cover all the foods you should eat to prevent cancer (and why) in 3 minutes. So, below is a list of anti-oxidants in commonly eaten foods and why you should eat (or drink) them: Link to earlier segment: https://www.fox19.com/video/2019/09/19/healthy-foods-cancer-prevention/
- Green tea- contains catechins that have been found to reduce the risk of breast and other cancers.
- Coffee- contains polyphenols, compounds found to reduce the risk of liver and other gastrointestinal cancers. Take it black or with skim or 1% milk. Limit use of sugar and cream.
- Canned tomatoes, salsa or sauce- processed tomatoes have more bioavabilable (absorbable) lycopene- a phytochemical found to reduce prostate, ovarian and uterine cancer.
- Broccoli, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts- contain indoles and sulfuraphane- two nutrients found to fight cancer. Leafy vegetable intake may reduce risk for lung cancer (so does smoking cessation)!
- Berries- blue and blackberries contain anthocyanin- a phyochemical that reduces risk for Alzheimers disease and cancer.
- Whole grains- go for farro, quinoa, barley, rolled oats, bulgur and other whole grains. These contain more selenium and vitamin E, which are known anti-oxidants. Get these nutrients from foods, not pills. Selenium supplements have been found to raise risk for diabetes.
- Be moderate with alcohol- alcohol is a known toxin in our diets. Moderate drinking means 1 drink/day for women, 2/day for men. To reduce breast cancer risk, cut the amount down further to 3 drinks/week.
- Yogurt and low-fat dairy products- yogurt contains pro-biotics to keep gut bacteria thriving. Dairy products are good sources of calcium, which helps reduce risk for colon cancer. Avoid excessive calcium intake from supplements or too much full-fat dairy. There is a link between high dairy intake (4 or more servings/day) and prostate cancer risk.
- Get moving- weight control and regular physical activity may help prevent cancer and cancer recurrence. You don’t have to be a gym rat, but regular walking, biking or other activity makes a difference.
I’m providing a webinar Thursday, 7-13 from 2-3 PM EST through Food & Health Communications. If you’re interested, click on the link below to register!
Webinar: Debunking Fad Diet Claims
I recently met Leah Berger, the manager and director of the Madeira Farmer’s Market. Leah and I share a passion for home grown, delicious food and cooking. I was so flattered when she invited me to have a community booth at the Thursday market. I will be there this Thursday, 9-15 from 3:30-7:00 PM. The market is located at the Madeira Silverwood Presbyterian Church at 8000 Miami Ave. Madeira. Come out and say hello and taste my quinoa, beet and kale salad with beets from farmer RB2. Thank you!