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A Great Time to Lose Weight

Posted by on Nov 28th, 2013 and filed under Business, Politics, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

shutterstockBy Leigh Erin Connealy,
Nov. 28, 2013

Here we go again! The winter holidays are at hand, and we all know what goes with roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie — weight gain! For most people, the upcoming holiday means piling more pounds on top of those from previous years that are still sticking around. Considering that the average Thanksgiving meal can weigh in with as much as 4,500 calories — in other words, more than two days’ worth of calories in one sitting — it’s easy to see why people gain weight.

So why not try something different this time — like losing weight over the Thanksgiving holiday? Think it can’t be done? I have patients who say otherwise. Jody, for example, found she could enjoy holiday meals without gaining weight or feeling deprived with one simple pre-meal trick. And many others have followed the pointers below, successfully navigating through meals and leftovers without the usual disappointment when they step on the scale afterwards. Why not give these ideas a try? The only things you have to lose are those unwanted and unhealthy extra pounds.

Balance what you eat with exercise: Let’s say you’re a diehard Thanksgiving fan, who won’t even consider cutting back on your favorite dishes. In that case, I suggest you plan to work off what you eat. Calorie Count’s website has a nifty chart that lets you total up the calories in typical Turkey Day food, so you have some idea of the damage you need to repair. Then click on the “exercise” tab, choose your favorite activities, and find out how much walking, jogging, or basketball playing it will take to burn off your meal.

Many of my patients actually follow through and do work off their calorie overload. Others, however, have a different experience. Once they discover what it takes to keep that slice of pecan pie from taking up permanent residence on their waistline, they decide a nice berry sorbet will do just fine.

Whatever you do, please don’t plan to jog off your holiday dinner if you haven’t jogged since 1999. Choose exercise appropriate to your health and normal activity level – and follow through. “I’ll do it later, I’m too full right now” is not an excuse to sit this one out.

Cut back on tasting while cooking: If you’re cooking, it’s important to sample dishes to check for seasoning. But it’s awfully easy to consume several hundred calories just by tasting during the cooking process. Why not recruit a guest or two to help out? They’ll like the fact that you value their opinion, and you can avoid overeating at the same time.

Take supplements first: This is a smart everyday habit for anyone looking to shed a few pounds. About 20 minutes before sitting down to eat, take your daily supplements. Be sure to drink a full, 8- to 12-ounce glass of water with them. You’ll find that you eat less, simply because your stomach is partly full already. And you won’t miss out on the all-important nutrients you need.

Go easy on the alcohol: Beer, wine, and hard liquor all are loaded with calories. Do yourself a favor and stick with sparkling water and a wedge of citrus. Or alternate alcoholic beverages with a glass of water to cut your calories in half. Remember, alcohol’s much-touted health benefits only apply to very small amounts. Alcohol is a cellular toxin that affects your entire body, as well as your brain. And it also increases the risk of cancer, especially for women. This is why moderation is so important.

Start with soup and salad: Have a cup of soup (preferably one not made with cream, which is loaded with calories) and a small green salad before your entrée. Again, the point here is to take the edge off your hunger and prevent gorging, something most of us have been guilty of during these types of meals.

Have some protein first: After you’ve gotten your plate of food, take a few bites of turkey or other protein first. That signals your stomach that food is on the way, and turns off hunger mechanisms. Vegetarians can accomplish the same thing by mixing a scoop of protein powder with some almond or hemp milk and drinking it before the meal.

Put down your fork between bites: Remember — it’s an eating utensil, not a shovel! Take small bites, and chew each one thoroughly to help with the digestion process. Many people act as though holiday meals are eating contests or an excuse to stuff themselves. Thanksgiving dinner is about remembering the things you’re grateful for, not eating yourself into a coma.

Leave food in the kitchen: If the serving dishes are on the table, it’s too easy to get a second helping. Instead, let people get up to refill their plates. It won’t hurt them and maybe it will even slow them down a bit.

Save dessert for tomorrow: Or skip it altogether. Or take one bite and wrap up the rest for the next day. It will still taste just as good, and you’ll feel virtuous for the entire day.

Save leftovers in single-size serving containers: Opening the refrigerator and finding a big old leftover turkey, stuffing, and gravy is just too tempting. Pack individual containers with about 4 ounces of turkey (approximately the size of a deck of cards), an ice-cream scoop size portion of stuffing, and a few bites of sweet potatoes or other vegetables. This removes the temptation to overdo it. We all know how easy it can be to “pick” at the leftovers and end up eating most of them.

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is one of the best ever, filled with family, good friends, and a delicious meal. Just remember, it’s far easier not to gain weight than it is to lose it. By following these guidelines, you can have a guilt-free celebration and not worry about which diet to start once it’s over.

Thrive in Health & Wellness,


Spiced Pumpkin Soupspicy pumkin soup

Serves     6

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Pumpkin isn’t just for jack o’lanterns. It’s actually a flavorful,     nutritious food that is surprisingly versatile. This soup, for example, is     filled with healing spices and nutrients. Try a cup before the main course     to take the edge off your hunger and prevent over-eating.


  • 1          tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1          cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 3          tablespoons almond or coconut flour
  • ½          teaspoon curry powder
  • ½          teaspoon cumin
  • ½          teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3          cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1          cup sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • ½          teaspoon Celtic, Lite, or sea salt
  • 32          oz. low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 15          oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1          cup skim milk
  • 1          tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Plain          Greek yogurt for edible garnish (optional)


In       a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion until       tender, about 4 minutes. Add flour and seasonings, then sauté for an       additional minute.


Add       sweet potato, salt, broth, and pumpkin to the pot, and bring to a boil.       Lower heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for about 30       minutes, or until the sweet potato is soft. Remove from heat and allow to       cool for about 15 minutes.


Place       about half of the soup in a blender or food processor and mix until       smooth. Pour processed soup through a strainer and into another bowl.       Repeat these steps with the soup remaining in the pot, then combine the       two portions of processed soup into the soup pot.


Heat       soup pot to medium, stir in milk, and simmer until the soup is heated       through. Remove from heat, add lime juice, stir in, and top with a dollop       of yogurt, if desired. Serve while hot.


Apple Butter Sweet Potatoesapple

Serves   5

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total cooking time: 90 minutes

Traditional sweet potatoes are usually smothered in sugar and tiny   marshmallows. Here’s a recipe that lets the natural sweetness of sweet   potatoes through, enhanced by just a little apple butter. I recommend coconut   oil, instead of butter, for its health benefits. This will give the dish a   faint coconut flavor and a higher saturated fat content, but the saturated   fat in coconut is actually good for you! If you’re not a fan of coconut, try   substituting 2 tablespoons of organic butter and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin   olive oil.


  • 2        pounds sweet potatoes
  • 3        tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¼        cup apple butter
  • Pinch        of Celtic, Lite, or sea salt


Preheat     oven to 350 degrees. Scrub sweet potatoes with a vegetable brush to clean.     Using a fork, pierce the sweet potatoes in several spots.


Place     sweet potatoes in a baking pan, and bake for about 90 minutes, or until a     fork slides into them easily. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.


Peel     the sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl. Use a potato masher to mash     them thoroughly. Then add fat and apple butter and use the masher to mix     in. Add a pinch of salt, and serve while warm.


Green Beans, Shiitake Mushroom, and Red Onionsgreen beans

Serves   6

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Replace the old stand-by of green beans swimming in canned mushroom soup with   this much tastier – and healthier! – version using fresh green beans,   shiitake mushrooms (an excellent source of anti-cancer nutrients, among other   things), and onions that aren’t coated with greasy breading. You’ll have new   respect for the humble green bean when it’s prepared in this low-sodium,   low-fat method.


  • 1        pound fresh green beans
  • ½        pound shiitake mushrooms
  • 1        red onion, sliced horizontally about ½ inch thick
  • ½        teaspoon Celtic, Lite, or sea salt
  • 1/8        teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2        tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Preheat     oven to 350 degrees. Wash, trim, and cut the green beans in half.


Spread     green beans on the bottom of a baking pan or rimmed cookie sheet.


Wash     and trim the stems from the mushrooms. Place the mushrooms on one half of a     second baking pan or cookie sheet, then lay the onion slices on the other     side.


Lightly     coat green beans, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, and then dust with     salt and pepper. Place both cookie sheets or pans in the oven and roast for     about 20 minutes. The beans should still be crisp, but a bit tender.


Place     green beans in a bowl or on a platter. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the     mushrooms and onions, and then stir well. Place mushrooms and onion rings     on top of the green beans and serve.


Mixed Berry Sorbetmixed berry

Serves   6

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus at least one hour to freeze

Patients often tell me they can restrain themselves throughout a meal, only   to go overboard with dessert. I understand how hard it can be to turn down a   slice of freshly baked pie topped with a scoop of ice cream. But this berry   sorbet is an equally delicious way to end a meal. And with a mere 42 calories   – compared to the more than 500 calories in a slice of pie and ice cream –   I’d recommend going with the sorbet.


  • 1        12 oz. bag frozen mixed berries
  • 1        ripe banana
  • ½        cup unsweetened apple juice
  • ¼        cup vanilla almond milk
  • 2        teaspoons real vanilla extract


Thaw     frozen berries in the bag. After thawing, place berries, banana, juice,     almond milk, and vanilla extract in a blender and liquefy.


Strain     the liquefied berries through a strainer or sieve to take out the seeds.     Put the strained juice into a freezer-safe container, and then cover with     waxed paper so that the paper is touching the surface of the juice.


Place     the pan in the freezer for an hour or so to firm. If it becomes too hard,     let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.



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