Boost Your Willpower This Thanksgiving

One of my associates recently told me how her Aunt makes the best Thanksgiving stuffing ever, and finishes off the meal with cream-cheese frosted pumpkin cookies. The secret to both of her recipes is using three times the amount of butter than they require!  Whether or not you have a family member with similar cooking proclivities, the holidays are a hard time for those working towards reaching a healthy weight. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that human beings only have so much self-control – and it wears out fast.

You’ve probably noticed a pattern in your daily eating habits. You start the day as a motivated dieter: One cup of yogurt or low-fat cereal with a sliced banana and you’re off and running. By lunch, temptation may get to you once in a while, but usually you can feel satisfied with a hearty salad, or soup and sandwich. By dinnertime though, after an entire day of saying “no” to yourself, you’re ready to eat everything on the table and dessert. With seconds.

Blood sugar, brain chemistry and hormones all influence our abilities to make good or bad food choices – but once you understand that it’s these physiological factors that are the driving forces behind impulse eating, you can begin to work with them, instead of against.

Stay Steady

Before Thanksgiving, take at least three days to make sure your brain chemistry is balanced. Avoid processed carbohydrates and starches – if it comes out of a box, don’t eat it. Focus on high-fiber fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean proteins. By the fourth day, you may not even feel like reaching for chips – much less a third helping of pumpkin pie.

During the holidays, continue to keep your blood sugar steady with small meals and protein-rich snacks like walnuts, cashews, almonds and pistachios. And no – it doesn’t count if they’re topping cookies!

Start off on the Right Food

Begin your day with an egg-white, spinach and low-fat cheese omelet – it’s full of protein, fiber and calcium, which will help you manage cravings better than cereal. Even more importantly than eating a great breakfast is getting out for a morning walk, jog, or gym workout. When you start the day by working out, the activity helps you maintain a healthy mindset for the rest of the day.

Pray Before Eating

You may do this already as part of your nightly dinner ritual, but try adding this: While your hands are clasped in front of you to give thanks for the blessings of your day, ask God to give you the strength to be the person He wants you to be. That pre-meal reminder that you are meant to be your best self is the best source of will power I know – because it’s not your own will you have to rely on. It’s His.

You don’t have to gain weight over the Holidays – but if you do, here’s a reassuring statistic: The average weight gain for most Americans is only one pound.