Not So Thankful: Holiday Pounds

Sitting down at the table with family and friends, your aim is to enjoy your day not to over think what you eat. To help you lovely ladies mindfully munch this Thursday, here are a few suggestions on what to choose while loading your plate. While I don’t enjoy stating actual calorie counts, I’ve provided them below (in the drinks section only) as a general guideline. Why I don’t provide calorie counts: they’re simply not accurate. Yes, they may be accurate for the sample recipe, but most readers prepare a recipe they know and love, expecting it to equate to the same nutritional values and it doesn’t. Instead of misleading all of you, I would rather provide general reasons for choosing THIS vs. THAT so you understand the healthier option. Enjoy!


Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Martini (135 calories)                                         ∞  Irish Coffee (200 calories)
  • ∞  Vodka & Soda (100 calories)                             ∞  Mulled Wine (300 calories)

Why: Opting for the classic martini or a simple vodka + soda will save you on calories and from a stealthy sugar source. Just make sure to choose the original over the fruitier martini varieties—those are loaded with syrups and sugary flavor enhancers. // As for the vodka and soda, you can’t go wrong with a zero calorie soda; juice or tonic will add unnecessary sugars. // Irish coffee is purely decadent with its heavy cream and whipped cream topping. Unless you’re looking to drink your dessert before even sitting down to your meal, be my guest. Otherwise, opt for coffee spiked with a little whiskey. // While the base of mulled wine is indeed antioxidant-rich red wine, the drink itself is only reminiscent of the taste. It’s cut with sugar, brandy, and choice fruit juices, adding calories you don’t even realize are there.

The Feast

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  4 oz White meat                                                  ∞  4 oz Dark meat

Why: Not only is dark meat just about twice as fatty as white meat, but your white meat selection also has significantly less cholesterol (only 69mg!).

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Mashed potatoes w/                                          ∞  Candied sweet potatoes w/
  • Turkey gravy (1/2 cup)                                            Marshmallow topping (1/2 cup)

Why: Normally sweet potatoes would win the battle over normal spuds any day, nutritionally, but sweet potatoes lose their nutritional edge once they’re covered in marshmallows and candied.

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Homemade Cranberry Sauce                             ∞  Canned Jelly Cranberry Sauce

Why: Anything homemade is generally better because you can control what goes into it! According to Self, canned sweetened cranberry sauce is mostly comprised of carbs in the form of sugar. This will leave you feeling hungry and lead to raised sugar levels that will only add to your dreaded food coma.

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Dinner roll w/ butter                                           ∞  Cornbread w/ butter

Why: Cornbread is sweeter, saltier, and fatter than a regular roll. A regular dinner roll with a smear of butter will leave you with a bit less of a spike in blood sugar, helping you maintain a steady blood sugar level.


Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Pumpkin pie (1 medium slice)                                 ∞  Pecan pie (1 medium slice)

Why: Yes, pecans are healthy, but the extra load of corn syrup surpasses any health benefits that this pie may have once had. Your best bet will almost always be to choose pumpkin pie because it ranks among one of the lower-calorie slices of heaven.


General tips for Turkey Day:

1. Eat a light breakfast: While you may think it’s a smart idea to just “save up” your calories for the big feast, eating a small meal will keep your cravings in check and prevent you from over eating.

2. If you’re the head chef for the day, or just a contributing attendee, make your dishes less caloric by swapping out butter for vegetable oil or olive oil. Also consider:

  • ∞  Reducing the amount of sugar in recipes
  • ∞  Using low-sodium + low-cal broth
  • ∞  Subbing in yogurt when recipes call for sour cream

3. Portion Control: This is a day when you typically want to try all of the dishes. Not once, but again and again. That reason alone should tell you that you should limit your first round to 1 spoonful of each. If you’re still wanting more of Grandma’s stuffing, this leaves you with room in your tummy for seconds instead of the usual secretive unbuttoning of your pants under the table. Also, think of the potential leftovers! That alone is a great incentive to limit your portions.

4. Count your Drinks: Don’t forget that drinks are liquid calories. Mind your sips to prevent alcohol AND tryptophan hangovers.

5. Don’t over think it! Thanksgiving is not the time to be nervously counting calories! Instead, mingle and enjoy your time with the ones you love. Not only will you be able to enjoy the day more, but you’ll feel less stressed! And what is better than that?


Source 1,2,3, Photo via

Tips to Make Your Bikini Body Last

With the Fall semester underway have you noticed your roots starting to grow in and your sun-kissed glow fading fast? You’re not alone. At least don’t let the cooling temperatures put a damper on your summer physique! Here are a few of my tips to make that bikini-body of yours last a bit longer.

1. Watch Your Alcohol Consumption

The ever-present selection of parties with copious free alcohol sounds great during Welcome Week until you realize what comes with your evening on Greek Row: late night drunchie run (drunk munchies), morning-after bloat, excessive dehydration, fatty fried hangover foods, and a slowed metabolism. “When you have a drink, you burn less fat, and more slowly than usual, because the alcohol is used as fuel instead. Knocking back the equivalent of about two martinis can reduce your body’s fat-burning ability by up to 73%” according to MSNBC. Not to mention that many women gain this weight in their lower abdominal area, resulting in the dreaded muffin top.

2. Don’t Go Overboard in the Cafeteria

Coming back to campus is a nice break from parents, but don’t think replacing mom’s cooking with cafeteria food has the same sentiment. If your cafeteria is a buffet/all-you-can-eat style make sure you’re watching your portion sizes. It’s very easy to mindlessly top off your plate with waffle fries, but if you didn’t eat that way during the summer, why start now? You should also be mindful that cafeterias provide the food for you; you don’t know what ingredients they use. This is key to keep in mind if you’re watching butter, salt, or sugar intake.

3. Manage Your Stress Load

It doesn’t matter if you’re a new freshman or looking to graduate in December, we all fall victim to poor time management and increased stress levels. Try to find your rhythm early in the semester and stick with it. Increased stress also raises the levels of your fight-or-flight hormone, cortisol. Having raised levels of cortisol for an extended period confuses your body a bit–we have these hormones from our prehistoric ancestors for literal fight or flight situations. Nowadays when people are stressed they sit and think about their problems, not having a physical reaction that those hormones intended us to have. Your body still responds to stress with the hormonal signal to replenish nutritional stores making you feel hungry. It gets worse: 1. This can lead to weight gain and a tendency to store fat around your tummy, 2. the “fuel” your muscles need during the fight or flight response is sugar, the reason you crave carbs when stressed. This article can tell you more.

4. Be Consistent

Don’t let your Summer efforts fall behind just because school started. Obviously the additional 30hrs/week you’ll be spending in class–not to mention the additional time for homework and assignments–will be a time killer, but try your best to stick to the regimen that got you your bikini body in the first place. Consistency is key to any hot bod.

5. Think About the Foods You Eat

Do you eat differently at school vs. during the summer? If you were home for summer does your mom buy whole wheat bread but you eat white bread at school? Little changes in your diet like this can make the pounds creep back. Maintain the healthy diet regimen you followed during summer–do you eat more fresh fruits and veggies during the summer because they’re refreshing in the heat? Don’t just dive into easy-solution fixes because you’re back on campus–being in the college atmosphere doesn’t have to equate to a college “kitchen” where your best friend is the microwave.

6. Skimp on the Cream & Sugar

If this is part of your normal daily routine, ignore this tip. But if you didn’t have cream and sugar in your coffee every morning during the summer, why do it now? Think of the bloat and spiked energy levels that cream and sugar come with. My suggestion is to not let “wearing more clothing” be your excuse. Translation: don’t adopt new caloric eating habits in the cooler months because you think “you’re wearing more clothing than you were in the summer so you won’t be able to see the effects.” My only question: Will your self-confidence be the same while naked?

7. Mindful Snacking

Tying in with number 3, be smart about what you snack on. I find myself grazing more during times of stress; if you follow suit make sure you don’t just gravitate towards carbs. Depending on what you’re snacking on it could just leave you feeling tired, bloated, and even hungrier than before. I always gravitate towards something with a high water content (fruits or veggies) combined with something either high in protein or high in fiber to make your “fullness” last. For instance, some of my favorite combos are Granny smith apples paired with crunchy peanut butter/almond butter or baby carrots dipped in hummus or even a homemade trail mix with dried cranberries, dry roasted almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sometimes dark chocolate chips.

8. Get Active

Even if you are “doing your best” to stay active, your efforts may fall by the wayside. As a little bit of motivation, think of it this way: you’re sitting much more now in school than you were during the summer between sitting in class, in the libs, doing hw, studying, playing video games, extended dinners in the cafeteria, even just late night chats with friends–you’re more sedentary than you were during the summer. Get active or try to remain as active as you were during the summer because the more muscle you build the more calories you burn while at rest :)

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