(BPT) – If your family is far away, going home for the holidays isn’t always possible around Thanksgiving. Hectic work schedules and the high cost and hassle of traveling can make it difficult for everyone you love to be in the same place at the same time.
But you can still celebrate Thanksgiving wherever you are. Host or attend a Friendsgiving celebration, otherwise known as Thanksgiving spent with friends, as a way to still enjoy the holiday fun and food.
This leaves only one more dilemma … how do you enjoy Friendsgiving without packing on the holiday pounds? Cristina Rivera, registered dietitian, board certified sports nutritionist and consultant for The Coca-Cola Company, has six tips to help you do just that:
1. Balance your plate
A balanced plate allows you to enjoy all your holiday favorites while also loading up on important nutrients. To ensure your plate is balanced, fill half of it with veggies that are high in fiber. This can help prevent overeating because the veggies make you feel full. Then fill 1/4 of your plate with turkey or other protein and the remaining 1/4 with starches (potatoes, stuffing). Before going back for seconds, make sure the veggies are finished and refill the plate the same way.
2. Have everything you love … in moderation
There is nothing worse than feeling deprived because you passed up your favorite holiday treats in an attempt to avoid weight gain. The holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy the foods you typically only have once a year, without feeling guilty or attaching labels to them. Labeling them as “forbidden” ahead of time will only backfire and can lead to overeating. Give yourself permission to enjoy the foods and beverages you love and look forward to every year. Have enough to satisfy you then move on to the next one.
3. Serve smaller bites and sips
Holiday treats can be served in mini sizes to give you and guests the perfect flavor with fewer calories. Serving food on smaller plates and bowls or putting desserts in a 1-ounce glass cup allows for automatic portion control. Beverages can also be served in smaller sizes for all of the great taste with fewer calories. For instance, the Coca-Cola mini can is 7.5-oz. and comes in a variety of flavors including Diet Coke and Coke Zero. Not only will you be on trend with the mini servings, but your guests will be able to enjoy a little bit of everything.
4. Bring a dish
If you have dietary restrictions or food allergies, offer to bring a dish to Friendsgiving dinner and challenge everyone at the table to try something new. Whether it’s mashed sweet potatoes, quinoa stuffing or tofurkey, this ensures you have an option that meets your dietary needs regardless of what is being served.
5. Slow down
Take time in between bites to enjoy the company at the table. Research shows it takes up to 15 minutes for our brain to register we’re full. Rather than gobbling down everything on your plate in 10 minutes or less, put down the fork from time to time and join the conversation. The extra time you take to eat your meal gives your brain time to catch up to your belly, and will prevent overeating.
6. Get moving
Gather your besties and sign up for a local turkey trot. Friendsgiving is not only a day to enjoy great food and beverages but there are also tons of holiday-themed activities to keep you active. Balancing the calories consumed from foods and beverages with calories expended through exercise, is a surefire way to keep the holiday pounds from creeping up. Look up what activities your town or neighborhood offers that weekend and choose one to be the new Friendsgiving tradition.