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Ester Marsh column: Eat sensibly with Thanksgiving just a few days away

Don’t blow your diet with Thanksgiving!

You finally got back on a schedule of working out and eating better and here we are, just a few days away from Thanksgiving, one of the biggest “eating days.”

Getting together with family and friends (of course with proper numbers and social distancing) is so special and food brings all people together. I learned long time ago “dieting” during Thanksgiving only gets you frustrated and makes you want to eat more another day. The biggest thing that helped me is to take it slow.

What typically happens during a Thanksgiving feast? All the food is ready, we say the blessing and give thanks and we eat as much as we can in a short amount of time. After we are done, we plop on the couch, loosen our pants, and take a nap. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? My first few Thanksgivings in the U.S. were quite miserable because I overate. It takes the brain at least 15 minutes to know that you are full. I know I can eat a lot in 15 minutes.

So, a few important tips: First, use a small plate. There is only so much room and seeing a plate full satisfies your brain. Wait at least 15 minutes before you go back for seconds. Take small amounts instead of big heaps of all the different goodies that are available. Slow down while eating, chew your food well and enjoy every bite! I love all the different options at a Thanksgiving meal, but I am a huge dessert person. I will eat less of the food so I can eat more dessert! I do the same with my desserts, I take a small piece of all the desserts available. I am going to be honest, if something doesn’t taste that good (or as I like to call it “is it calorie worthy?”), I don’t finish that piece.

On the flip side, if something is really good, I go back for seconds (if I still have room). Drink plenty of water and watch the high-calorie holiday drinks. Many people eat sensible but don’t realize they take in tons of calories with the drinks. And while you are prepping your Thanksgiving meal, find great-tasting recipes with lesser calories.

Food brings us together. Even that it is very different due to COVID-19, the main focus should be on family and friends spending quality time together. Having my side of the family an ocean apart, I have learned that I can have great get-togethers via Skype, Facetime or Zoom. So find a way to make this Thanksgiving work for you and your family and make the best of a crazy time.

Happy almost Thanksgiving everyone!

Ester Hoeben Marsh is health and fitness director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA.

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