Ahhh, the holiday dedicated to eating as much as you want is almost here!
What’s your usual Turkey Day look like? Do you skip breakfast? Do you lounge around for a bit before you begin preparing your dish to pass? Do you kick off the festivities with a cocktail accompanied with an assortment of dips, shrimp cocktail, chips or irresistible hors d’ouevres? If you’re like most Americans, you’re looking forward to a meal consisting of the traditional items: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, dinner rolls, green bean casserole…on top of all that are your family’s favorites: perhaps mac n’ cheese, a soup, candied sweet potatoes… Then come the desserts: pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie – PIE! PIE! PIE! – cheesecake, chocolates, cookies… And because it’s Thanksgiving you will Eat. It. ALL! AND because Thanksgiving dinner may oddly take place in the early part of the afternoon – actually making it Thanksgiving Lunch – the meal persists through the rest of the day until you’re afraid you might die from explosion or the inability to breathe (speaking from experience here).
GOD HELP US ALL!!!
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be like this. While the holiday is intensely focused on a huge feast, that doesn’t mean it is required you pack it in. Instead of feeling lethargic and gross, you can feel energized and strong! Here are several tips to help you eat, enjoy and be healthy on Thanksgiving!
- Start Thanksgiving Day off with a strong mindset.
- Ummm, hello! Isn’t the purpose of the holiday to be thankful!? Start your day off with a grateful heart. Write out at least three things that you truly appreciate. It’s not exclusive to material items, either. People count! In fact, you can start that TODAY! Make it a point to give thanks each day.
- Think beyond the meal: how would you prefer to feel? I can remember one Thanksgiving, I truly was scared at how difficult it was for me to breathe due to having eaten so much. I could do nothing other than remain calm on the couch as I waited for the food to empty out of my stomach and leave a little more room for my lungs to expand! I NEVER wanted to feel that way again.
- Exercise! Instead of snoozing the morning away, get a 30 minute workout in. Enjoy the crisp air by going for a walk, jog or bike ride… Buffalo Turkey Trot, anyone? All that muscle contraction and blood flow and raised heart rate will release endorphins that leave you feeling awesome, and for many folks, inspire a healthy mindset throughout the rest of the day.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Did you know that getting less than 7 hours of sleep can raise your body’s level of grehlin, a hormone that signals hunger? The less sleep you get, the hungrier you will feel. Shoot for 7-9 hours – not just next Wednesday night, but every night – to maintain a normalized balance of hunger and satiation cues.
- Eat a nutrient-rich breakfast containing fiber, lean protein and healthy fat. Although you may think you’re doing the right thing by reducing your caloric intake on this high-calorie day, it would actually do you more harm than good to skip breakfast! You don’t have to eat the very second after waking up, but it is wise to nourish your body with a healthy meal any day of the week! Avoiding food until Feast Time can actually lead to a greater intake, including dishes you wish you would have limited.
- Downsize the portions. Rather than taking your typical serving size of each item, take a sample size. It might look weird serving yourself a tablespoon of mashed potatoes, three green beans, and a bite-sized amount of stuffing, but everything together will certainly add up to a full plate that you will likely feel satisfied from.
- Limit the alcohol. Aside from adult beverages adding up the intake of low-quality carbohydrates on a day where carbohydrates seem to be the main theme, it is likely your intake of alcohol will lead you to poorer food choices, whether it’s that you feel moved to eat pie, or that you can’t seem to stop picking at chips and the mixed nuts on the table. And if not for saving you from your food choices, may it save you from the embarrassment of sharing with Uncle Jimmy how you really feel…
I’m thankful for YOU!!