Thanksgiving only comes around once a year, so why not go ahead and splurge? Year after year, we can all attest that during the holidays thinking about healthy eating may not be our primary consideration.
But Thanksgiving does not have to sabotage your diets. With a little self-control, we can satisfy our desire for traditional favorites and still enjoy a guilt-free and healthy Thanksgiving feast.
1. Get Active
Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories before you ever indulge in your favorite foods. Eat less and exercise more is the winning formula to prevent weight gain during the holidays. Increase your steps or lengthen your fitness routine the weeks ahead and especially the day of the feast.
Make fitness a family adventure. Many communities have created “Turkey Day” 10K, 5K, and 1 – mile fun runs and walks to help you start off Thanksgiving with exercise so that you are burning those exercise calories in preparation for your afternoon and evening meals. It is a wonderful way for families to get physical activity and enjoy the holiday together.
2. Eat Breakfast
While you might think it makes sense to save up calories for the big meal, experts say eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite. Start your day with a small but satisfying breakfast — such as an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast, or a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk — so you won’t be starving when you arrive at the gathering.
Eating a nutritious meal before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices.
3. Police Your Portions
Thanksgiving tables are bountiful and beautiful displays of traditional family favorites. Before you fill your plate, survey the buffet of options and decide what you’re going to choose. Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.
Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long. Fill your plate with small portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable, traditional foods.
4. Be Realistic
The holiday season is a time for celebration. With busy schedules and so many extra temptations, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss if you have decided to work on a diet ahead of the new year.
5. Focus on Family and Friends
Thanksgiving is not just about the delicious bounty of food. It’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends. The main event should be family and friends socializing, spending quality time together, not just what is on the buffet. Your mental health and wellbeing are equally as important as your overall body health.
Most importantly our team at Washington University Occupational Therapy wishes each and everyone a Happy & Healthy Thanksgiving and Holiday season. We’re thankful for all of our colleagues in the healthcare field, community organizations & partners, and the patients that give us the opportunity to help them focus on the daily tasks they need and want to do.