Did you know the average American consumes between 3,000 - 5,000 calories during the Thanksgiving meal? Uffda.
That’s more than many consume over a two or three day period! It seems like gaining weight during the holiday season is a national pastime. Year after year, most of us pack on at least a pound (some gain more). What’s more, research shows this holiday weight gain tends to stick around. But Thanksgiving does not have to sabotage your health or weight. We’re not going to let that happen to you. Not this year. Check out these tips for a fit and healthy holiday – without sacrificing flavor or fun. Enjoy the holiday feast without the guilt – or the weight gain.
1] Workout when you can.
If you can get a workout in the day before, the morning of, or both - go for it! Whether it be a workout circuit at the gym, a morning run, or a family tradition Turkey Trot 5k, bunting off some fuel, reducing stress, and producing some of those “feel good” endorphins is always a good idea!
2] Eat breakfast.
While fasting until the big meal might make sense to save up calories, experts say eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite. Start your day with a high protein, hearty meal such as an omelette, Greek yogurt mixed with berries, or some high protein oatmeal. This will keep you satiated so you won’t show up to your Thanksgiving meal ravenous - like most do, which causes them to overeat, feel overly stuffed and lethargic, blaming it on the tryptophan in the turkey.
3] Bring a healthy dish to pass (and eat).
Whether you‘re hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a dish to share, make your recipes healthier with less sugar, fat and calories. There are plenty of ways to make Thanksgiving far healthier. For ideas on "how to" - check out our 5 Thanksgiving Recipes! This way, if you show up with only a few healthier options to choose from, you'll have your "Plan B" to fall back on.
4] Pick and choose your indulgences.
Thanksgiving tables are filled with mouthwatering traditional family favorites, which are always abundant. Before you fill your plate and start diving in, survey the buffet... Take a minute and decide what you want most. Aim to select reasonable portions of the foods you cannot live without on this day. Mindfully look at your choices, and choose to not waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long. Fill your plate with small portions of your holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can really enjoy them. If you’re going to have dessert, choose the one (not all five) that sounds the best to you, and enjoy it.
5] Slow it down.
Instead of immediately heading up for seconds as you take your last bite, slow down. Chew your food thoroughly, put your fork down between each bite, take a few sips of water, be present in conversation with those around you, and take a few minutes to let your food settle. No one does this, but it does work quite well. So many will rush to shovel their first round of food in, just to get to the second - that they’re not giving their body time to digest and send those fullness cues to the brain. Which usually results in many going up for seconds (or thirds) and feeling uncomfortably full. Not you, not this year! Resist this urge by getting caught up in conversation with those around you. You’ll find yourself eating much less food overall, and avoiding the food coma, having you camped out on the couch the rest of the evening.
6] Go easy on the adult beverages.
Don’t forget those calories from alcohol can add up quickly. Have a glass of wine or a gin and diet tonic water. If you’re planning to have a few drinks, have a glass of water between them. This way you stay hydrated, limit alcohol calories, and stay sober in the process so you can enjoy your evening with loved ones around you.
7] Get active.
If you can (weather permitting), get outside after dinner! Go for a walk, or a bike ride, play in the leaves, and have some fun! Again, most don’t do this, usually because they’re so stuffed after their feast they can’t help but glue themselves to the couch. But a brisk walk will help with digestion, burn some additional calories from your meal, improve blood sugar levels, and be a great opportunity for meaningful conversation with friends and family. And you’ll be glad you did, trust me.
8] Shift your focus.
Most importantly, remember what this time of year is all about. With a ton of emphasis around food, this time of year is really about family, friends and appreciating what you have. Make this the focus of your celebrations. Be mindful, have fun, and enjoy this precious time with your loved ones.
After reading these tips, you’ll see that enjoying the holiday feast without the guilt or weight gain is possible. After all, the only thing getting stuffed this Thanksgiving should be the turkey! Happy Holidays!