Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year. A time to relax with friends and loved ones, a time to reflect on what we are grateful for, and a time to enjoy all the delicious seasonal foods! Overeating and under-exercising is almost expected during the holidays, so here are 7 tips on how to enjoy Thanksgiving and other holidays without losing sight of your health and wellness!
1. Prepare the Day Before
Fruits and veggies may be hard to find in the Thanksgiving day spread. If these nutrient-dense powerhouses are lacking on the holiday table, consider getting in an extra serving the day prior. Your body will thank you later for that extra fiber.
2. Get Physical
Daily physical activity throughout the year is essential for overall heart and bone health. On holidays where the main event is focused on food, including physical activity that day is a great idea. Put those calories to use! Thankfully there are several ways to fit in physical activity. Here are a few ways to get that metabolism pumping:
- Start the day off with some activity, ie. running, jogging, hitting the gym, etc.
- Consider doing a Turkey Trot (walk, 5k, 10k) – plus the whole family can join!
- Grab a football and toss it around in the yard
- Pre and/or Post- Dinner walk
3. Light but Solid Breakfast
Skipping breakfast to save room for feasting later sounds like a good idea, in theory. However, it can quickly backfire. Going into an event overwhelmingly hungry may lead you to overdoing it with certain foods OR even end up eating foods you don’t genuinely want. Starting with a solid but light breakfast can help curb some cravings. Here are some excellent light options to get the day going:
- Whole grain bread topped with 1-2 eggs (or 2-3 egg whites) cooked with veggies (ex. spinach) topped with 1 slice of low-fat cheese
- Low-fat Greek yogurt topped with fruit (ex. blueberries), and nuts (ex. Almonds)
- Smoothie made with low-fat Greek yogurt, fruit (ex. mixed berries), and nut butter (ex. almond butter)
- Toasted whole grain bread topped with avocado, veggie (ex. tomato or spinach), and 1-2 eggs (or 2-3 egg whites)
4. Staying Hydrated
Drinking enough water can be hard to do on a typical day, let alone on a day with special events. Get ahead of hydration early and start the day off with a large glass of water. Keep hydration in mind throughout the day. Often, we mistake dehydration for hunger, making that extra cookie even more tempting. Keep your hydration in check to keep your appetite in check. Another factor of hydration to consider is alcohol. Alcohol is dehydrating and is often served in excess on Thanksgiving and other holiday events. When consuming alcohol, be sure to increase your water intake. Try alternating between an alcoholic beverage and a glass of water to keep hydration up and slow down alcohol consumption.
5. Consider the Veggies
Did you know that it is ideal to get 4-5 servings of vegetables per day!? Unfortunately, as mentioned, the veg availability on Thanksgiving and other holidays tends to be a bit limited. Get those veggies whenever possible! See a veggie tray? Load up! Bring on the Brussels sprouts, green beans, collard greens, broccoli, or whatever green is offered at dinner. The veggies will provide not only a nutritional boost (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) but also fiber – which will help get things moving along later.
6. Portion Control
It’s easy to lose track of everything we are eating, especially during a holiday. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. How can we control the portions of the foods we’re consuming? Consider using the one plate method. Keep portions limited to one plate, to prevent overeating to actually see how much you’re consuming! Are you having apps before dinner? Use the same theory! Fill up your plate with foods you truly like and enjoy – keeping in mind this is your only plate. No need to waste space on food that is only “okay.” If you are hungry after your first plate, wait 20 minutes. Check in later to see how you are feeling. Can you wait till the main event, or is there dessert coming shortly? More often than not, you will find you can wait it out.
7. Have Fun!
Focus on the true aspect of the holiday; spending time with friends and loved ones. Take in the joy of the day, it’s only one time a year! Food is meant to be enjoyed and not feared! If you feel apprehensive about the upcoming holiday, pick a few simple strategies that you know you can stick to (like drinking enough water!). When all is said and done, this one day is not going to be the demise of your nutrition. Have fun, eat some good food, and enjoy it!
From the team at CHARGE, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Authored by Emily Rykaczewski MS, RDN, LDN