It's that time of year again when the mounds of food placed neatly on our dinner tables seem neverending; the very smell of hot cooked entrees, mouthwatering sides and sugary desserts are the very few things a majority of us look forward to when we think of Thanksgiving. We become excited at the thought of having our traditional favorite dishes on this one night, and the many days that follow where we have incorporated the scraps of turkey into sandwiches, soups and salads. I know we all keep this one thing beating in the back of our minds when we continuously stuff our faces with sweet potatoes and dinner rolls, “It’s okay, it’s Thanksgiving!” our conscious continues to remind us. So what is the problem we have to face? We overindulge. We eat to the points of exhaustion. We eat so much excess food that it is potentially a big problem.
You may wonder why just one night of binging on delicious foods is so harmful because it’s very hard to believe that one meal, one very big meal, could have such a huge impact. There are multiple reasons for why you shouldn’t be having who can eat the most thanksgiving dinner contests during this upcoming holiday. A few of them are associated with the methods of cooking, the ingredients used in your favorite Thanksgiving meals, and excessive amounts of food you are eating during the holidays.
With all of the filling sides, and main entrees served on the table, it may seem hard to change the traditional methods of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. These new methods, are more simple than you may think. Start off small by using less or even swapping out fatty oils and butters for more organic, and natural oils like coconut or olive oil. Instead of frying some of the side dishes, turn to baking, grilling or broiling which doesn’t require you to add unnecessary fats to the food. Grilling allows you to maximize flavor while maximizing nutrition by using minimal added fats. Instead of boiling vegetables try to steam them instead; boiling may seem healthy and quick, however, the high temperatures of boiling water dissolves water-soluble vitamins and minerals. By steaming vegetables and other ingredients, you are allowing them to retain and cook in their own natural juices that they expel.
When it comes to ingredients, it seems impossible to cut down on many oils, starches, and sugar in your home cooked meals, but it can be done. Simply using a little bit less of everything will make a bigger difference. Try using raw sugar, instead of confectioners sugar, or even sea salt instead of table salt. Small changes like these will make your meals that much healthier. Other things to be aware of is the amount of ingredients you are using. Keep in mind that many meals call for a specific amount of measured ingredients which means there is no need to add just a pinch or handful more of the ingredient to your dish.
Different studies have shown a predictable relationship between holiday overeating, and exercise. The practice of excess and indulging during the holidays is categorized as binge eating, compulsive overeating or simply a short-term pattern of overeating; all of which explaining an increase in the amount of food your body has consumed in a certain (usually shortened) length of time. As individuals develop a short-term pattern of overeating, they tend decrease the amount of physical activity done by a drastic amount compared to their average exercise habits. Nutrition & Metabolism published a specific study done on men and women averaging the age of 26, the individuals had increased their calorie intake while simultaneously dropping their physical activity levels to about walking 2.5 miles per week. Keep in mind that the average daily step count in the U.S. is at about 10,000 steps per day which amounts to around 5 miles. The dramatic decrease in physical activity combined with the short-term pattern of overeating defines a perfect plan to gain a few unhealthy pounds during the holidays.
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