Meal Planner Series: Friendsgiving Potluck

Whether you want to bring a side or dessert (or both!), making a dish that fits into your nutrition plan doesn't Coach Amber is here to help!

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Crystal: All right. Welcome to the MetPro Method Podcast. I am your host, Crystal O'Keefe and today I am joined by Met Pro Coach Amber Velasquez, and we are gonna be discussing attending a Friendsgiving potluck, how to navigate it. And still enjoy the food and stay on plan.

So, Amber, I can't wait to hear all of the tips. Thank you so much for being here today.

Amber: Yes, crystal, thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to talk about it. I know the holidays are really tough to navigate, so hopefully this will help some of you guys like. Really plan ahead and know what you can take.
And yeah, hopefully it just helps because like I said, the holidays are so tough and this is where majority of Americans put on their weight. So if we can prevent some of that and at least maintain weight, then we're good to go. That's a win, right.

Crystal: Uh, you know, just absolutely. Just Maintaining this time of year is a win.

Amber: So, Hopefully here at MetPro, we can help you guys not put that weight on.

Crystal: I personally would love that. That's usually, the time that things go a little crazy for me. Not as bad as like going on a cruise during the summer. I, that, that is my nemesis.

But, uh, yeah, there's a lot of, there's a lot of treats out there this time of year. Um, and they're family baked. So you've got a, you've got dual things happening here. You've got people you love creating food for you, so it's difficult to say no, you know, you love them. And they want to create something nice for you.

So it's difficult to say no, so, alright. Alright, well I'm getting off track here. What, let's start with, what exactly is a potluck? I realize most people probably know this, but not everybody, so, yeah.

Amber: Right. So, um, I'd say a potluck is like a meal or a party where each guest contributes to that meal. So you can bring a side dish, a dessert.

Usually the host has the main entree. But when everyone. Make something from home and brings it together. It kind of gives you a lot of variety. They're usually a lot of fun, so I'm sure most people enjoy doing potluck around this time of year.

Crystal: It's nice because the variety is awesome and it takes the pressure off of whoever the host is, that they don't have to create all these dishes or purchase all of these dishes.

And, in theory, there really should be something for everyone regardless of. If you're gluten free or vegan or any kind of dietary restrictions you might have, there's usually something for everybody. On that note, as a person who is trying to stay committed to their health goals, what kind of guidelines should we be considering when we think about the foods that we want to bring to a potluck?

Amber: Right. If you're contributing first, you want to make sure it's something that would be good for you to eat. So, if you're not sure what else is going to be available, I would prepare and take something that you know is a safer food. So, if you're watching your carbs, maybe take a low carb dish.

Or if you are gluten free or dairy free and you're not sure what else is going to be available, take something that you know that at least you can have some of that. You don't want to get there and not be able to eat anything. So, I would just plan ahead, maybe take a dessert and a side dish that you know that would be safe for you to eat.
And if you know that other people there may have some allergies. Definitely let them know. That can be pretty serious at events if you're not telling people like if there's nuts or dairy inside. So just make something that would be safe for you and then let the other guests know as well.

Crystal: Okay. Lots, of great things to start with. And then, how in general do we balance this sense of tradition and family and friends while also balancing health with food? I feel like that is really difficult.

Amber: Yeah, I would. I would definitely agree. When you're surrounded by friends and family, a lot of times it becomes a social gathering, and so you eat and you drink, and sometimes you're being less mindful as if you're at home and not in a gathering.

And I'd say one of the most important things for me at these gatherings is the family time. So, you have to kind of put your priorities into perspective and if you have a big goal to maintain your weight or to lose weight during the holidays. Don't let that gathering slow you down. You know, it's all about spending time with family and friends, and you can still meet your goal.

So, one of my favorite things to do is I stick to the spoonful tip. So, I'm a big foodie. I love tasting everything that's available, including all the desserts. So, I take a plastic spoon, one of the smaller ones, and I just get a spoonful of everything to put on my plate. That way I'm not overindulging, but I'm getting to sample each thing that's available.
Some of my family members even started picking up on that, and now they do that at our family gatherings.

Crystal: Oh, how fun. That's nice. So, it didn't turn into a peer pressure situation for you, they accepted and even picked up on it. Um, right. Have you ever thought about what you would do in the situation where it was reversed?
Like maybe they might have been like, what, Amber, what are you doing? Like, why are you, why are you eating so little food? Or how would you handle that?

Amber: Oh, definitely. It does bring some guilt. Especially when your family's cooking the food. You feel guilty if you're not eating what they've prepared. A lot of work goes into preparing those meals, so, I would really set some boundaries.

You're doing this for your own health. And if your family doesn't understand, then maybe you just have to set those boundaries or just let them know, Hey, this is important to me. I'm not eating as much because I have goals to reach. And you'd be surprised some people don't talk about it.

And then their family kind of questions why they're making certain. Eating decisions, but then if you do talk about it, you might actually influence your family to make better decisions as well. So, it could be a win-win situation.

Crystal: Oh, that's a really good point. And, as far as these recipes, do you have any ideas today that are specific that people who are listening could use?

Amber: Yeah, definitely. So, I, like I said, I'm a big foodie, so there are actually some really great recipes that I like to use from the MetPro website. Yeah. I usually take a side dish and a dessert, like I mentioned before. I want to make sure that there's one of each that I can have.

So anything with sweet potatoes or pumpkin, especially around November. And then, you know, December brings its own challenges, but. For a dessert, I always like to make this pumpkin banana bar and it's super simple, lots of good ingredients. It uses whole fruit, such as bananas. It uses pureed pumpkin, so not loaded with sugar, but it, it still has that sweetness to it, and it's a great addition to any potluck.

And then as a side dish, I always love to make sweet potato casserole. Ooh. And as most of you know, it's usually loaded with like brown sugar and marshmallows and caramel and all sorts of good things, but it's loaded with sugar. So, on the MetPro website, there's a recipe that actually kind of cuts out all of that high sugar content, but it still tastes really good.

So, you can find those on the MetPro website under recipes. And there's also some other great ones on there that use like butternut squash and some other sweet potato and pumpkin recipes. So, if you're looking for something to make, hop on there and see what you can find.

Crystal: Oh, lots and lots of good ones.

Now, let's say somebody goes out to the MetPro website, they're looking through the recipes, uh, which by the way, you can find under academy, it's like academy and then recipes. When you're out there looking around. Sometimes they have lists of different, like they'll say it's this many carbs and it's this many protein.

How can people ensure it's part of the plan they're on right now that their coach has them on?

Amber: That's a great question. Because we do have so many phases and progressions that we can have you on, so that will really. Depend on each client. And so that would be a great time to talk with your coach, find out how that can fit on your plan, and if it doesn't fit exactly, your coach will have great ideas on how to make it fit or some other suggestions on something that you could take that would fit on your plan.

So, definitely reach out to your coach if you have any questions regarding that, and they'd be more than happy to help you through it.

Crystal: Okay. That's really good to know. Now, we talked about like, you're coming up with the ideas. This is you as a guest, but what if you have a host who says, bring X, Y, Z. Now what?

Amber: In that case, I would definitely reach out to my coach and just ask them if they have any ideas.

Our coaches are full of knowledge. If there's not a recipe that they can recommend for MetPro, they can help you find a good source for a dish to take based on the guidelines that your host has asked you to bring.

Crystal: Okay. And you mentioned that you like to take the dessert and the side dishes. Have you ever been kind of put on the spot where you were told to bring something? And if so, how did you make it fit?

Amber: Yeah, so I have been in that position and the host actually asked me to bring biscuits and she was like, if you can make them homemade for one, I had never made homemade biscuits. And two, at that time, I was trying to watch my carbs during the holidays because I had already had future plans and I knew I'd be overindulging a little bit then, and so I wasn't too thrilled about making the biscuits.

But I did my research. I worked with another coach and we came up with a biscuit recipe using whole wheat flour rather than just traditional all-purpose flour. And they actually turned out really great, but they had a little bit more protein. Not as much sugar. And so, they were actually really good and they were a hit at the party.

Crystal: That's awesome. So you could indulge a little, but not go overboard. In those cases, you could even have like half of a biscuit if you wanted to, if you still wanted to have like the apple, pie or the pumpkin pie.

Amber: Right? And you can still have all of those great things or make those things, and your coach will have little tips and tricks that you can swap out different ingredients to make it a little more macro friendly than the traditional recipes. So just ask your coach. Like for instance, if one recipe calls for whole milk or heavy whipping cream, you may substitute it for like almond milk, which is a free food for MetPro. So, talk with your coach. We have lots of good ideas. Excellent.

Crystal: So, I'm curious, I know we talked a lot about like Friendsgiving and a potluck, but like let's say you're going to a more traditional Thanksgiving meal or a different holiday gathering.

Is there a way to use these same ideas and approaches and make them fit for other things?

Amber: Yeah, for sure. So, one thing that you could do is eat one of your MetPro meals ahead of time before you go. That way when you get there, you're not starving, because that's usually when you over-indulge on things, especially when it comes to holiday meals, because this isn't a meal that you get often.

It only comes around a couple times a year. So eat something before you go, and then when you get there. Try the spoonful trick or just have a little dabble of each thing. If you have something that you really like, then you know, maybe have two spoonfuls, but limit your portion size. I would say that's the biggest key around holidays is.

We all tend to overdo it, so we go crazy. It. It's true. So just be mindful. It's true. Like I'm guilty of it myself.

Crystal: Oh, the stuffing. And you know what? I don't need fancy stuffing. I am a stovetop stuffing girl. And I could eat an entire box by myself. It is not a problem. Oh, absolutely.

Amber: It's not hard to do.

I'm the same way. Anything with pumpkin, like give it to me. I'll eat the whole thing. So I really just have to keep in the back of my head. Just a small piece. I, I think that's what really helps it.

Crystal: It does. I actually used that just last night, my. My daughter's girlfriend made her, cupcakes for her birthday and brought the cupcakes over to our house, and they're in our fridge right now.

And, uh, there they were staring up at me. And, so what I did is I just took like a little tiny slice, enough that, it was a couple of bites and it was very, very enjoyable. I enjoyed it and I felt good about it. And I wasn't like I, I went overboard, which in the past I could easily just see grabbing at least one the entire thing.

Amber: Exactly. And that's so important that you bring that up because, so many people will try and just avoid things. You don't have to avoid it because typically if you really want something and you avoid it, the chances of you overindulging on something else are, I'd say 10 times greater. So, if you just have a little nibble, it kind of satisfies that craving that you had for that, and then you don't feel guilty.

Crystal: Yeah. And, and I think also, when you do say no to something completely that you really, really want, I'm not saying just like, oh, I could take it or leave it, but like, something you really want and you, you deprive yourself of that, you end up feeling kind of resentful against trying to eat healthier. It can almost sabotage your future efforts because you're mad. You're like, why should I even bother doing this? Like, what's the point if I'm kind of miserable all the time? So, I think it is really important. Treat yourself, like don't, you don't need to go overboard, but you also can't just never enjoy anything.

Amber: Yes, exactly. I always speak to my clients on balance. It's all about creating that balance. And that may look different for each person, so work with your coach on that but it is important to still have things that you enjoy because, like you said, you'll develop a bad relationship with food and that's not the whole point of this.

Our goal is to get you to a good place with food where you enjoy eating better, not just look at it as, oh, I'm only doing this to drop a couple pounds. No, we're looking to help get you through the rest of your life on a better lifestyle.

Crystal: Yes, absolutely. Okay, so did we miss anything? What else should we make sure people know that they consider or remember for their Friendsgiving gatherings?

Amber: Yeah. So, let's see. I would say, a couple tips. Eat before you go, or at least eat a snack even if it's not a full meal. I would also fill up on veggies. So, when you're filling up your plate, you can have as many veggies as you want. I don't put a limit on veggies, and that just helps keep you full from overeating on other things.

At least they play such a small role in the amount of calories you're having so you can fill up, still feel good, but not overindulge on the carbs and the sweets and things like that. And then of course, spending time with your family is the most important part. So, enjoy that moment. Don't feel guilty. But keeping your mind like what your goals are.

If you have these goals that you're looking to reach, set the boundaries. I would say that that's key. If you don't set boundaries, then you kind of just let yourself do whatever.

Crystal: Okay. Those are some excellent, excellent tips. Amber, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.

Amber: Yeah, of course. Thanks again for having me, Crystal. It's always fun.

Crystal: Oh, it is. Listeners, that's all for this week. You can find all the MetPro Method episodes anywhere you get podcasts, or you can go to Please be sure to follow the show and rate and review that lets other people know what they can expect from the show.

You can also learn more about I'm your host, Crystal OKeefe and I will be back next week. Until then, remember, consistency is key.

Done with Dieting with MetPro

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