We typically eat so much at Thanksgiving that we plan for the overindulgence. We wear our “fat” pants and look forward to a turkey-induced afternoon nap. But new studies show that overeating can have a lasting effect on your body, mood and brain. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett recommends filling this year’s table with healthy choices so you can indulge guilt-free!
What Science Says...
-Overeating changes your body clock. In a recent study, mice that were fed a high-fat diet woke up in the middle of the night to gorge, which explains why we crave those midnight snacks.
-Rich foods change your brain chemistry the same way cocaine does by triggering the brain's production of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, which causes you to overeat.
-Overeating can make you stressed and depressed. A 2012 study found mice fed a high-fat diet had elevated levels of corticosterone, a stress hormone, and the mice showed signs of depression.
-In 2010, Swedish researchers found that a four-week binge by a group of normal-weight people resulted in an average weight gain of 3.3 pounds per person. They also had higher LDL cholesterol levels - even after one year.
-Fructose, or fruit sugar, is abundant in many holiday desserts such as apple and cherry pie. One study found that fructose increased the amount of blood flowing to the brain's hypothalamus, signaling the person was still hungry.
Lighten Up Your Thanksgiving Feast
-If you are making a holiday dinner this year, leave the simple carbs out and fill your table with high-quality protein, whole grains and fiber-rich vegetables.
-Keep the beautifully roasted turkey, which is the hallmark of Thanksgiving, and choose the lighter meat from the breast, which is a high-quality, low-fat protein.
-Instead of dairy-laden mashed potatoes, serve a creamy, healthier version. Steam 1 1/4 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes with 4 cloves of garlic. Mash with 1/2 cup of warmed low sodium chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
-Forget the sugary, marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes and roast them with a medley of vegetables such as carrots, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes.
-Swap the stuffing for brown rice or quinoa pilaf. Add nuts for a satisfying crunch.
-Serve traditional pumpkin pie, and if you’re diligently counting, only eat the filling. It contains 180 calories without the crust.
Burn that Bird
Another great Thanksgiving tactic? Burn off that bird before you gobble it up! After you get that turkey in the oven, go for a brisk walk, sign up for a Turkey Trot, or head off to Jazzercise class. You'll start the day with a negative balance of calories and all your holiday favorites will taste even better without the guilt. The day after Thanksgiving, Jazzercise is here to help you work it off!
Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!