Thanksgiving is this week! Is anybody besides me in disbelief? The most asked questions of 2016 is….. ready for it?…. “Where did 2016 go?” This year has flown by! As the year comes to a close and we prepare for all of the craziness that the holiday season has to offer, I wanted to share some quick, realistic tips to keep your health in check while enjoying your holiday feasts.
1. Don’t deprive yourself
Listen, I am ALL for enjoying a good meal. In fact, every holiday my brother threatens to take a picture of my plate to blackmail me. But I have nothing to hide. I LOVE food, and I promote enjoying your favorite foods every once in a while. And I think if you eat healthy most of the time, enjoying a Thanksgiving feast is not going to ruin your progress. That being said, enjoy eating your favorite holiday foods because this time only comes around once a year.
2. Don’t spiral out of control
At the same time, know how to reel it in. Let the Thanksgiving feast end on Thanksgiving. Don’t let it spill over into the next day or next week and get you off track from your fitness goals. Aim to fully enjoy the moment, and then move on!
3. Don’t skip meals
We all know the story… you starve yourself leading up to the Thanksgiving feast so that you’ll have room for all the trimmings. That is a true recipe for disaster when it comes to your fitness goals. If you eat small meals/snacks leading up to the holiday dinner, you are less likely to overeat. Why? Because your appetite won’t be out of control, tempting you to eat way more than you should.
4. Indulge without overindulging
During the holidays, you will commonly eat foods that are outside of your norm. And many times, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. We get excited and eat way more than we should, and then feel sick later. Do you have to load up on casserole AND dressing AND sweet potatoes AND whatever else is being served? Pick and choose which foods you will get a little more of, but don’t go overboard and overload on everything.
5. Drink responsibly
Calories from sweet teas, punch, and alcohol can add up quickly! And too many times, we pay attention to what we eat and not to what we are washing it down with. Since your food choices will typically be high in calories, aim to pair them with a low calorie beverage like water! But if you do choose a higher calorie beverage, limit the quantity. Sip slow, and make it last forever!
6. Eat normal portions
I know, I know, it’s called a Thanksgiving feast for a reason. But, if you desire to keep it a little healthier this year, eat normal portions of food. Get a little bit of the foods you really want, and leave the others. You can always go back for more when it’s time for your next meal. And a great way to control your portion sizes is to use a smaller plate. Then you won’t have the space to eat humongous portions.
7. Spread calories throughout the day, decreasing portions later in the day
Eating large portions of food at a time and over an extended period of time is what packs on the pounds. The average holiday plate probably has at least 1,000 calories, not even counting seconds and thirds and dessert. That takes a while to burn off! If you decrease the amount of food you eat at a time, and then wait a few hours, your body will have a chance to burn more off before your next go ‘round.
8. Keep moving
After all that eating, you’ll probably feel sluggish and sleepy. But the more you sit around, the less calories you burn. And this makes it more likely that the holiday meal will become a permanent part of your body instead of being burned off. Instead of sitting around, keep moving! Go for an after dinner walk, or work out before the feast for a pre-burn session. And make sure to work out in the days following the feast. This will lessen the chances of packing on the pounds.
Joy Diggs, MS, CPT, RD, LD, WLS
Certified Personal Trainer
Registered and Licensed Dietitian
Certified Weight Loss Specialist
Owner, Digg Deep Fitness