#230 Happy Thanksgiving!

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As we express our gratitude, we must never forget
that the highest appreciation is not to utter words,
but to live by them.

John F. Kennedy

6 Guilt-Free Choices at Thanksgiving

By Joe Wilkes

It's that time of year when it's not just the turkey that's getting stuffed. The Thanksgiving table is full of irresistible treats and sweets, but before you commit yourself to an afternoon of gluttony followed by the traditional unbuttoning of the pants in front of the TV, you might consider that there are a lot of options that are actually good for you. And, if you're the one planning the menu, you can include even more choices so that you can enjoy Thanksgiving without turning into a Macy's parade float.

  1. Turkey. You can't beat lean turkey breast. With only 44 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 8 grams of protein an ounce, this is one of the healthiest things you can load up on. Even the dark meat only adds an extra gram of fat and 9 more calories per ounce. But skip the skin, which adds extra calories and fat, and go light on the gravy. Try the salad-dressing technique—dip the tines of your fork in the gravy before you spear your meat to get more flavor with less fat. Also, if you're cooking, baste the bird with broth, not butter, to keep the fat and calories down.

  2. Cranberries. These tart little berries are bursting with nutrition, including high levels of vitamin C and several polyphenol antioxidants. (Click here to read more about getting antioxidants into your diet.) Cranberries are also good at inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria in the bladder and urethra. It's also believed that cranberries contain a chemical which helps stop tooth decay, but this could be moot if the cranberries are prepared with sugar. Instead of going overboard with the sugar, try cooking cranberries in orange juice, or a little port wine to bring out the flavor without oversweetening them.

  3. Yams. These tasty tubers (not to be confused with sweet potatoes) are great sources of vitamin B6, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure. And because yams contain complex carbohydrates and fiber, they won't spike your blood sugar. (Click here for more tips on controlling blood sugar.) Candying the yams, a popular Thanksgiving tradition, will largely negate any blood sugar benefits, however. Try having them with a little cinnamon instead. They generally are sweet enough on their own, but if your guests insist on candying them, maybe serve them with a little maple syrup on the side, so at least the sugar rush is optional.

  4. Sweet potatoes. Like their relative, the yam, sweet potatoes have lots of nutrients regular potatoes don't have, including beta-carotene and vitamin C. The high levels of carotenoids in sweet potatoes also help regulate blood sugar, which will help you avoid the post-Thanksgiving "coma" that afflicts so many over-indulgers on the holiday. Although, once again, you can easily counteract the nutritional benefits by melting marshmallows on top of the sweet spuds. But, at least marshmallows can be easily scraped off as opposed to the poor candied yam, which would have to be scrubbed down to get back to its natural nutritious state.

  5. Salad. Load up on salad! And by salad, we mean lettuce and vegetables, not a cream-based Waldorf salad or mayonnaise-laden potato or macaroni salad. This is a good contribution you can make if you're a guest at someone else's Thanksgiving dinner. Offer to bring a salad, with dressing on the side, and you'll at least be guaranteed that there will be one healthy dish you can eat on the table. (Click here for some salad ideas.)

  6. Pumpkin pie. When you're looking at the dessert selection, keep in mind that a slice of pumpkin pie has as much beta-carotene as an entire carrot. Take that, apple pie! It's also high in vitamin C. Unfortunately, oftentimes it can also be high in fat and sugar. But if you're making the pie, you can substitute skim milk for cream or sweetened, condensed milk. Some chefs even add silken tofu to thicken the pie filling, and provide the extra health benefits of soy.

If you're lucky or unlucky enough to be hosting the main event, you can try some other things to health up the meal. Think about offering a salad course and/or a (non-cream-based) soup course. This can prolong the meal and conversation (which can be good or bad, depending on your family) and allow you to fill up on healthy stuff before the main-course shoveling begins. Also, try and schedule the meal so it isn't eaten in front of the football game. Then you can pay attention to your guests and what you're putting in your mouth. If you're at the mercy of some other Thanksgiving host, hope for a cornucopia of vegetables that you can choose from or offer to bring something healthy and delicious yourself. By making healthy choices, you'll have something to be thankful for instead of a couple of extra pounds.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter.

Check out Steve's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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8 Tips for Dealing with Holiday Pig-Outs

By Denis Faye

Face it, for many of us, the house of good nutrition has been built on a shaky foundation. As much as we've learned to eat right and enjoy healthier foods, decadence looms like a California tremor, waiting to ruin everything we've worked so hard for.

And guess what, kids? It's earthquake season! Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, the list goes on—all at once! As usual, Beachbody is here with swell how-to-get-through-it articles. But in this one, instead of focusing on the entire stretch, let's discuss that one day when it all happens, when all the relatives come over and that big meal is laid out. In the name of political correctness, we'll call this day Irophh Day, for Insert Religious or Patriotic Holiday Here Day.

First thing to remember is that there are only a handful of Irophh Days throughout the year, so if you eat too much, it's not such an issue. You need to live it up from time to time. That said, wouldn't it be nice getting through just one Irophh Day without having to unbutton your 501s after you leave the table? Here's how:

  1. Treat the rest of your day like any other day. Wake up, eat breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack. Don't fast just so you can eat more at dinner. It'll just cause you to overeat that night—and it won't help your diet. Dumping all your food into one huge meal ruins digestion.

  2. Visualize how much you'll be eating. It's easier to keep control if you have a plan. Decide in advance how many of Grandma Edith's cheese puffs you'll eat pre-meal. See yourself eating one plateful of turkey with all the fixings—without going back for more. And for dessert, imagine a small piece of pie afterwards. It'll still taste good, even if it's not the size of a Buick.

  3. Indulge in different ways. If you feel that you need to indulge on Irophh Day or it'll be ruined, take another decadent route. Get a massage or a pedicure. Hit the record store and buy yourself a couple of CDs. Buy yourself a sexy outfit that you couldn't wear if you still ate like you used to.

  4. Buffet it. If you're the host, don't put all the food on the table. Instead, set up a buffet. Numerous studies have shown that if you need to get up to get seconds or thirds, you're less inclined to make the trip.

  5. Avoid the less thrilling stuff. Chose which "bad" things you eat. The impulse is to put a little of everything on your plate, but do you really like Aunt Louise's creamed onions? And the bread? Come on! It's just bread! Flour and water! Why miss eating all those once-a-year Irophh treats by eating bread?

  6. Moderation is the key. Of course, you'll want to eat a serving of Uncle Walter's candied carrots, but a serving is all you need. Savor that instead of shoveling a mountain's worth in your mouth.

  7. Wait for dessert. The body takes about 30 minutes to figure out it's full, so take a breather before dessert. If you're feeling full when you hit Grandpa Saul's honey cake, you'll be less inclined to eat too much.

  8. If you blow it, you blow it. So, despite all this great advice, you might still make a pig of yourself. Oh, well. It happens. Don't torture yourself or starve yourself or try to do Turbo Jam for six straight hours to make up for it. It won't work. The body doesn't work well when you try to overcompensate. It just leads to malnutrition and overtraining. Like I said, Irophh Day only happens once a year, so now you have 364 days to make up for it with moderation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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