The holiday feast to end all holiday feasts is right around the corner. In fact, it’s only a few days away. The day you eat too much, move too little and gear up for the Christmas craziness.
I remember watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and waiting for Santa to roll through because that felt like the official start of the holiday season. It all seems to start on Thanksgiving with a whole heap of great food and a whole lot of misery and regrets afterward. It’s not uncommon for thousands of calories to be consumed over Thanksgiving. Yep, you read that right…thousands of calories. It can be the equivalent to walking into Starbucks and telling them to load you up with all the Venti Pumpkin Spice Lattes you can carry and then some. Scary stuff, right?
I think for so many, it’s the thing to do to have traditional Thanksgiving dishes to be the ultimate unhealthy comfort food, but that doesn’t mean you have to bypass them completely.
In fact, you don’t have to go into this season with the idea that you are going to crash your hormones, destroy your gut, flair up any autoimmune symptoms, or just throw your body into a proverbial tailspin. If you want this Thanksgiving and the holiday season to be different, there’s a lot you can do to switch things up and enjoy a healthier celebration.
Focus On Family Time
For lots of families, Thanksgiving is one of the few times that everyone gets together. In fact, Thanksgiving time is the biggest travel time of the year. That said, make quality time together the main focus of Thanksgiving and have food as a secondary focus. Football and parades are always good too, especially if it’s the football being played in your own back yard.
How often do you skip breakfast (and maybe lunch too) because you’re saving yourself for later on? I know…I’ve done it before myself. You are holding out for all the goods, or goodies.
“Saving” calories might seem like a supersensible move but it’s more likely to lead to overindulging as the day wears on. You know what I mean. You just wouldn’t feel right if you didn’t at least eat a little of all the things.
Eating a filling breakfast packed with fiber and protein can help keep your appetite in check for the main event. Healthy fats are great for this too.
Think omelet, avocado toast (g-free of course) or oatmeal drizzled with nut butter, for example.
You can be more selective with what you eat since you won’t be super ravenous and wanting to eat everything in sight. Your eyes may still be a little bigger than your stomach, but it will be a lot easier to exercise portion control and avoid overeating.
Side note: your stomach and conscience will thank you after.
Want another bonus? Eating a hearty breakfast helps get your metabolism going, which can help burn calories. This makes it a little bit less likely that the foods you eat will be stored as fat since your body will find it easier to burn them off.
Make Thanksgiving Dishes Lighter and Healthier
Thanksgiving dishes don’t have to be super unhealthy. There’s a ton you can do to make them lighter (and healthier into the bargain!) without compromising on taste or losing the magic of Thanksgiving.
A few tips you can try include:
- Trim the fat off the turkey — it’s super high in fat and adds a whole heap of calories.
- Add a ton of veggies to your plate to help fill you up and add nutrition.
- Reduce the amount of fat and sugar you use in recipes.
- Hold back on the canned cranberry sauce — it’s another sugar-rich culprit, even if it seems healthier than dessert! Try making your own instead to get nutritional benefits. (Keep an eye out on FB for a quick & easy recipe).
- Use quinoa in the stuffing.
With a few healthier twists on Thanksgiving favorites, you can still enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie (or another dessert of your choice) with guilt-free and significantly cut down on your calorie intake. Chances are, no-one will notice the difference if you make healthy swaps.
Introduce Healthier Side Dishes
If you’re not in charge of the Turkey Day menu but you’re worried that there won’t be any healthy options for Thanksgiving, bringing your own side dish is an easy way to stay healthy and avoid overindulging on unhealthy options.
You can make vegetables the main focus of a healthy side dish or use fruits or veggies to replace less healthy ingredients.
This gives you more control over what you eat, and it also gives you the flexibility to add something unhealthy alongside traditional Thanksgiving dishes.
Listen to Your Body
Sis, your body’s always talking. Take the time to listen. Truth is, once you’ve eaten a reasonable amount, you’re likely not actually hungry anymore.
If you loaded your plate and ate a ton of food in a short space of time, these signals may not be picked up — especially given that it takes around 20 minutes for your stomach and brain to realize your feeling almost as stuffed as the turkey.
One way to give yourself a little food break is to chat with your family for 15-20 minutes and then check in with yourself to get a handle on your hunger. Before you reach for yet another helping of anything, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. You’ll likely find that you’re actually pretty full. It’s ok to say no to extra helpings of Aunt Betty’s homemade, butter loaded mashed potatoes.
Move Away From the Table
Have you noticed how much more you consume when you sit around the table to chat? When you’re done eating, carry on the social side of things away from the table. You’ll avoid eating more calories when you’re not really hungry. Move table talk to somewhere besides the table or the kitchen. Quality time doesn’t have to be spent around the food.
Don’t let the holidays be an excuse to skip on moving your body. Truth is, being a bit more active over the holidays helps burn off some of the extra calories and Thanksgiving is no exception.
Check to see if there’s a local “Turkey Trot” run/walk 5K in your area or do some type of a workout before you start digging in.
If you’re not up to moving early in the AM, then opt for a walk after eating or a friendly game of backyard ball. It’s a great way to have a little fun, some laughs, and catch-up with family at the same time.
Just remember that Thanksgiving is about so much more than the food. It’s friends, family and a whole lot of gratitude.
Until next time. Health & Hugs xoxo