Thanksgiving is a holiday known for its unhealthy traditions – overindulging and generally sedentary celebrations. But what’s most important is spending time with loved ones. If you’ve recently started a workout regimen, lost weight, or just want to make an effort to improve your overall wellbeing, try the following tips to make this Thanksgiving your healthiest, happiest one yet.
1. Start your day with sweat. Get your heart pumping and create a calorie deficit by burning off extra calories first thing in the morning. Exercise can help you destress so you can be your most relaxed self throughout the day’s festivities.
2. Eat breakfast. Even if you want to save room for the big feast, eat a light breakfast so you don’t overindulge later. Try an egg white omelet with spinach, a tofu scramble, a protein shake or a slice of sprouted grain toast topped with nut butter and berries.
3. Celebrate with conversation. Thanksgiving often means you’ll be with friends and family who you might not see often. Instead of focusing on the hors d’oeuvres before dinner, turn your attention to the entire celebration – the once-a-year sights, sounds and people. See if you can point out a few new experiences that you are grateful for in that moment.
4. Get active together. Plan a game before or after dinner, such as football or soccer. Create teams and invite everybody to join in for some friendly competition. Or, invite your loved ones to take a brisk walk together between dinner and dessert to help burn calories and aid in digestion.
5. Portion out your plate. Don’t skip the foods you love and only eat once a year. Instead, allow yourself a small, golf-ball-sized helping of everything you want to try – enough to fulfill your appetite without overindulging.
6. Practice mindful eating. One way to prevent overeating is to put your fork down between bites so you eat slowly and savor everything you taste. Listen to your body. Remember to enjoy the moment, be present and breathe. Remember that it takes about several minutes for your body to know its full, so stop eating before you feel like a stuffed turkey.
7. Be wary of alcohol. Those pre-dinner cocktails contain calories that add up quickly. Experts suggest enjoying sparkling mineral water as opposed to booze, so you stay hydrated and limit extra calories. But if you’re going to drink, be mindful of what you’re putting into your body.
8. Volunteer to help clean up. Your host will certainly appreciate the kind gesture, but your body will, too. Removing yourself from the table will help take the attention away from the food and prevent a second (or third) helping of pumpkin pie – and the movement will help burn off extra calories.
9. Plan a post-meal workout. Get back on track the next day by returning to your normal workout regimen. Remember, Thanksgiving is only one day and there’s no need to overcompensate with a ton of hardcore exercise. If you’re feeling festive (and the weather permits), try a seasonal activity like sledding or ice-skating.
“5 Ways to Have a Healthier Thanksgiving,” Tina Haupert, health.com, Nov. 24, 2010.
“10 Tips for a Thinner Thanksgiving,” Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, webmd.com, Nov. 17, 2008.