Although the real reason for this holiday – giving thanks and practicing gratitude – is spelled out right in its name, let’s be honest: a big part of Thanksgiving is the food. And although we might not like to admit it, typically that food is full of fat, calories, and sugar – things that don’t really go hand in hand with weight loss. But just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to completely blow it. You can still enjoy the holiday healthily with your friends and family with these simple tips.
1. Eat Before Dinner
Yes, you read that right. One way to help keep you on track during Thanksgiving is to eat BEFORE the big meal. Many people make the mistake of skipping breakfast or lunch in an effort to “save” the calories from these meals for later, but this method of thinking actually works against you. If you skip meals, you’ll end up feeling ravenous later in the day and you’re more likely to overindulge or reach for the extra fatty, extra carby options on the table. Instead eat a healthy breakfast, like oatmeal or a veggie omelet prior to heading out the door for your big meal.
2. Wear Your Sunday’s Best
A lot of us have a tendency to pre-plan our Thanksgiving outfits. We may choose stretchy pants or a loose flowing shirt to prepare for the bloat and discomfort that comes after eating too much. Instead of doing this, wear a form fitting dress or fitted slacks. Doing so will force you to be a little more mindful of what you’re eating since the discomfort of being too full will be harder to ignore.
3. Ditch the Alcohol
Alcohol isn’t just a major source of calories, it also lowers your inhibitions, so you’re more likely to eat more than you would if you had a clear head. We’re not telling you that you shouldn’t imbibe at all, but set a limit for yourself of one to two drinks. Opt for wine or vodka and club soda over fancy, sugary cocktails.
4. Get Active
Instead of giving yourself the entire day off, hit the gym or go for a walk first thing in the morning. If you’re out of town visiting friends or relatives, ask them to join you. That way, your still engaging in family time while also paying attention to your health goals. Another way to get some exercise in is to round everybody up for a walk or a game outside after the meal. It’s tempting to just veg out on the couch, but if you resist this urge, you can get a nice calorie burn post-dinner. As a bonus, moving after a big meal can help improve digestion.
5. Take 10
When you finish your first plate, wait at least 10 minutes before reaching for a second serving. You may not even realize your full until you give your body time to register the meal it just ate. Another reason to wait 10 minutes is that that’s the time it usually takes for a craving to subside.
6. Drink Up (Water, That Is)
Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before your meal. This helps to fill up part of your tummy and may reduce your hunger. Many times, thirst is mistaken for hunger and the best way to quench it is with some fresh water.
7. Focus on Family
During Thanksgiving, there is a lot of focus on food, but the holiday is really about family, friends, connection, and gratitude. Try not to put so much focus on what you can and can’t eat, and instead focus on good company and good conversation. When you shift your mindset, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on what the holiday is really about.
8. Volunteer for the Cleanup Crew
Instead of moving right to the couch after your meal, volunteer to help clean up. The movement will help get the food moving through your digestive system, and you’ll burn approximately 100 calories in an hour of clean-up. Bonus points: your host will be happy.
9. Bring a Better-For-You Dish
If there is something that you absolutely cannot live without this Thanksgiving, make a healthier version of it and offer it to bring it to dinner. That way, you’ll know for sure there will be something healthy for you to eat and you won’t feel like you’re missing out. If you’re the one hosting, put a healthy spin on all dishes. In most cases, your guests won’t even know. If you’re low on ideas, we have some modified recipes for you to check out.
10. Be Gentle with Yourself
The most important thing you need to do to stay healthy on Thanksgiving is be gentle with yourself. If you overindulge or don’t stick to your intended plan, forgive yourself and move on. One day of indulgence isn’t going to throw you completely off track, but guilt and stress can do a number on your health, so be mindful and have fun!