I love Thanksgiving; it’s meant to be a time when family and friends get together to enjoy each other’s company over a delicious meal. Often times though, that meal can turn unhealthy really fast with all the extras that we add on our plate!
Here are a few tips on how to keep this holiday as healthy for you as possible—and to avoid that uncomfortable “food coma” that leaves you to spread out on the couch for the rest of the night!
Don’t skip breakfast and lunch: Your strategy may have been to save your calories for dinner but that’s a bad idea. You will more than make them up by gobbling everything on the table at dinnertime since you will be so hungry. Start your day with a good breakfast and don’t miss lunch.
Go for a small plate and skip seconds: This tip is all about portion sizes – you can still fill up your plate, but eat slowly and savor what’s on there.
When cooking, make small swaps: For mashed potatoes, try using almond milk and garlic instead of butter and salt. Or to reduce the carb load of your potatoes, cook ½ potatoes and ½ cauliflower, mash them together and add your milk, lemon, and garlic in. And for appetizers, cheesy nachos can be swapped for a veggie platter.
Put colorful vegetables together in dishes and use herbs, spices, onions, and garlic to flavor them with fewer calories—try cooked carrots and cumin or Brussels sprouts with garlic. You can also add a healthy twist to classic comfort food, like replacing green bean casserole with some grilled green beans flavored with garlic and red pepper flakes. Remember one serving of starchy sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, and cranberry sauce is equal to ½ cup, which would look like half of a baseball.
Don’t worry, be picky: Before sitting down at the dinner table, have a few favorite foods in mind that you plan to indulge in, and remember, the first couple of bites of any food are often the most enjoyable, so enjoy! Eat foods that you love and that aren’t available at other times of the year, like homemade cranberry sauce, or that pumpkin pie, and forgo everyday foods like chips, rolls, and mashed potatoes.
This is what your plate should look like: Half of your plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables, a portion of turkey should cover about a quarter of your plate, or about the size of a deck of cards, and the last quarter can be used for half of a cup of potatoes and bit of stuffing. To make your plate healthier, reach for the colorful vegetables like broccoli, red peppers, and beets for example.
The most dangerous things on the table are the vegetables cooked in creamy sauces: You know the candied sweet potatoes and the broccoli topped with cheese sauce or peas and carrots covered in melted sugared butter. Instead, reach for steamed vegetables and flavor them with olive oil, lemon, and herbs.
What about dessert? If you’re only giving yourself a taste of the mashed potatoes and stuffing and aren’t going back for seconds, you may have saved enough room for dessert. If that pumpkin pie has been calling you and you want to top it with some ice cream or whipped topping, try to keep it to a golf ball-sized amount.
Try not to drink away your calories: This means staying away from soda, juice, and alcohol. Try to limit yourself to a glass of wine, or a wine spritzer.
Join the cleanup crew: Once you’ve had your fair share, get away from the table to prevent you from picking at whatever’s in front of you. One hour spent clearing the table and washing dishes while you’re standing gets you up and moving, plus your host will be grateful!
Hey, we all know that we will probably still overindulge some, so if you do, here are 3 key post-Thanksgiving tips to remember…
1. Get right back on track
Make sure that you’re returning to a home well stocked with healthy foods for the day after Thanksgiving. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and make healthy use of any leftovers. Top your salad, for example, with strips of roasted, skinless turkey breast.
And certainly, keep moving. Get back to your regular exercise routine, or if guests are in town, plan something active for all of you over the weekend. If you live in Truro NS, go to Victoria Park for a hike, or take in the fall festival of colors in Wentworth.
2. Stick to your normal routine
Don’t, for example, overcompensate for your Thanksgiving binge over the next several days with a ton of hard-core exercise. Just stick to your regular fitness schedule. Trying to cram in extra workouts at the gym could leave you feeling stressed out. What’s worse, they may lead to an injury, benching you for the next several weeks. That’s the last thing your health and weight-loss goals need.
In the days after Thanksgiving, don’t starve yourself either. Sure, it seems like a good idea; you want to eat less to make up for the Turkey Day binge. But, restricting your food intake will only make you hungry. And when your stomach growls for too long, you know what happens, we start to look for the high sugar and fatty foods. So don’t let that happen!
3. Stop with the guilt
No good comes from beating yourself up. Focus instead on the present, and praise yourself for laying the groundwork with a post-Thanksgiving plan. Be proud that you’re conscious of your eating and exercise behaviors, and your efforts to improve them: GOOD JOB!
All of us at Body Solace Studio wish you a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!