5 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

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.

9. 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.

Check Stress Off Your Holiday To-Do List

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed during the holidays; a time when your calendar fills up and your to-do list keeps growing. In the midst of trying to keep track of everything, the most important things about the holidays can get lost in the shuffle. Adding a couple of the tips below to your to-do list can help lessen the stress and elevate the joy you experience during this holiday season.

  • Set a realistic schedule: Running from place to place can zap your holiday spirit. Set your priorities and be sure to schedule in downtime.
  • Keep it simple: Scale down the things you have to do. For example, rather than preparing a complicated recipe, select one that is easy to prep and has a shortlist of ingredients.
  • Plan ahead: Look ahead on your calendar and make a list of errands and items to get. This will reduce trips to the store and prevent rushing around at the last minute.
  • Stick with healthy habits: Exercise and being in nature are both great ways to reduce stress so try to take time to go for a stroll outdoors when possible.
  • Breathe: Trade in those shallow breaths and tension in your chest. Taking just a few deep breaths can significantly lower your stress level at the moment. For even more positive effects, try a breathing meditation or mindfulness exercise.
  • Slow down and be in the moment: When spending time with others, let go of thoughts and worries about the past and the future. Soak in those special moments and think about what you are grateful for.

As we approach the new year, you should consider taking time for yourself and evaluating the roles, habits, and routines that you have in your daily life.

Learn more about our Life Transitions program…