Avoiding Leftovers

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  And, may the eating season begin!  Honestly, how we eat on Thanksgiving is really not the problem.  One day won’t have a long term effect over the course of the year.  Even add in Christmas and it has no long term effect.  One problem, though, is that this time of year eating more than usual is often not confined to the holiday itself.  It truly does become an eating season.  Sometimes that is due to multiple celebrations or holiday parties or people bringing in treats to work.  Sometimes it is due to the main subject of this article – leftovers.

For the first problem, what I try to do is to simply fit that into regular eating.  If I go to a party then I try to fit that into my eating plan for the day.  I may use some weekly points, or even fit points.  But, basically I don’t let it derail me.

For the holiday itself, I think there are two reasonable ways of eating.  Some people simply don’t track that day and eat whatever they want to.  For a couple of days a year, that is fine.  On the other hand, if you do that for every holiday, every minor celebration and every birthday you come near — well, that ending up derailing progress.  Having a day where you just do whatever is fine when it is rare.  If it is every week, it isn’t rare and one day can undo a lot of progress for the rest of the week.

So, I use the second method.  I do track.  I do want the day to fit into my total week.  This year, I pre-tracked for Thanksgiving.  We’ve had our main meal but I know what I am going to eat for the rest of the day.  I knew that I was going to end today with no weekly points left.  That is fine.  I have 2 days left of my Weight Watchers week and I can manage without weekly points or I can use FitPoints.  I recognize pre-tracking may be more difficult if you don’t know what will be served, but even then you often have an idea of what will be served and can do some planning.

I saved most of my weekly points for today.  I had used some, but had most of them left for today.  So, I feel totally great about how I’ve eaten today so far and with what I plan to do.  But, what I feel most happy about is what I did to avoid leftovers.  For the person hosting the event, there are too primary ways to avoid leftover:  don’t cook too much food and give leftovers away.  Throwing away leftover food is an option but most of us don’t like to do that.

In past years, I’ve traditionally made a turkey at both Thanksgiving and Christmas (no the sugary Coke is not mine):

And, some in my family love ham.  So we always had plenty left over as we have a small group for holiday meals.  We also usually make roasted potatoes which I love.  And, we make a lot.  Last year, we had these leftovers for a week.  We also bought multiple pies as different people liked different kinds.  And, then at one holiday I made cookies, plus bought brownies.

Again, more leftovers!  That was the big problem last year.  My holiday itself eating was OK, but I kept eating those foods for a week after the holiday.  This year I decided to do it different.  I considered getting a turkey breast and I probably would have if left up to me since it is zero point on the upcoming program.  But, duck was requested.  OK, fine.  So we made duck and bought a small ham.  We made potatoes, but cut way back on the amount.  We bought one small pie.  I bought a small container of a cookie assortment.  Yes, there will be some leftovers, but not a lot.  There is maybe a day of potatoes left.  The duck was a huge hit and is almost gone.

Another tactic is to send leftovers home with people.  My kids tend to be more on the underweight side than overweight.  So, they want to take some of the leftover ham and duck home as well as some of the cookies.  Great!  I am going to send as much home with them as I can.

Note to hosts:  Don’t force leftovers on people.  Offer a reasonable amount and take no for an answer.  Note to those receiving leftovers:  Don’t take too many.  Just take a reasonable serving and say no if it gets to be enough that it will derail your own eating.

The biggest thing, this year, though was simply to cook less food.  I worried about not having the traditional turkey but it was fine.  On another year, maybe I would have the turkey and no ham.  No one really needs a ton of leftovers and your guests won’t notice.  Of course, there are times people may bring food that you didn’t expect and it is more than what you thought would be there.  That is a prime time to send the leftovers back with the person who brought the food — or find some other willing victim.

The point is that if you avoid a lot of between holiday extra eating, the holidays aren’t the total eating season and you can end the year happily instead of miserable at having gained weight.



  1. says

    During the festive celebrations, I just let loose. When it comes to Christmas, I stock up on butter cookies and Ferrero Rocher. I eat as much as I want and drink as much as I want. However, when the time does come, I find that I don’t eat or drink as much I thought I would. In a day where I let loose, I probably eat like 3 Ferrero Rocher. I feel what happened is that I have been so disciplined throughout the year, my body does not yearn these type of treats. Also, my stomach has naturally shrunk, and I am unable to overindulge like I did in the past.
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