Permission to enjoy holiday meals
Eating too much on Thanksgiving is a reality that you may want to avoid this year. Americans consume an average of 3,000 calories, with some meals coming in as high as 4,500 calories! When usual daily intake should be somewhere around 2,000 – you can see how this becomes problematic! While Thanksgiving dinner is quite possibly the largest meal of the year, most “Sunday Dinners” don’t typically include a large turkey, with several side dishes like potatoes, gravy, string beans, cranberry sauce followed by desserts such as pecan or pumpkin pie – or both! Should we be concerned with overeating at this one meal? The answer is both yes and no.
It is important to go into holiday meals like Thanksgiving, knowing that they’re special occasions where you’re more likely to consume more calories. But there is more to weight control than calories in, calories out and they’re called hormones.
Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that help us maintain weight by telling our bodies when to feel full, and when to feel hungry. Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells and other areas of the body AKA “The Satiety Hormone”. When it’s activated, it lets your brain know to stop eating because fat stores are full! However, some of us become resistant to leptin and don’t get the message, resulting in fat build up and weight gain. This weight gain actually results in more leptin (because there is more fat), meaning again, no signal that you’re full! It’s a vicious cycle which is often the case in obesity. Ghrelin, on the other hand is a hormone released by the stomach when it’s empty. It lets your brain know that you’re hungry. You may have heard of it referred to as “The Hunger Hormone”.
So you see- your Thanksgiving meal may indeed be a splurge, but research has shown that our bodies can handle a one off! It’s chronic overeating and large meals over time that we need to watch out for! Processed foods, refined sugars, saturated fats and excess calories are often the culprits responsible for this overweight, obesity and leptin resistance. Our advice is to go into Thanksgiving with a plan. Enjoy yourself and give yourself permission to have the foods you love - the truth is when you allow yourself to do that, you end up eating less.
Check out our Thanksgiving Menu the Health(ier) Way!
Published November 2020