As we decompress from our political ups and downs of the last year of presidential racing, we can finally look forward to the start of the fall and winter holiday season. In other words, it’s time to get ready for Thanksgiving.
Now you and I know that this holiday is centered around the three “Fs” of food, family and friends in that order. Unfortunately, after the cheer and joy of the day comes the love handles that were packed on and the leftovers that you bring home can continue to pack on those calories for weeks to come. Luckily I have a few tips to help you enjoy Thanksgiving while staying healthy and happy, but not hefty.
Bring on the veggies — At the heart of the meal, Thanksgiving is really a healthy occasion. It’s based in turkey and veggies, so let’s leave it that way. Try subbing starches like rice and potatoes for lighter veggie choices like roasted cauliflower and collards. If you’re going to go with the starches, look for healthier ways to prepare them. Sweet potatoes are a great complex carbohydrate option but leave the marshmallow and brown sugar in the cabinet. A few toppings like that can erase all the greatness inside them. Here’s a little tip: roast your sweet potatoes or yams a bit longer and watch the natural sweetness come out. Sprinkling a little cinnamon on it will help control your blood sugar.
Post meal walk — Moving after a big meal is key to getting the body starting to digest the food properly and if you get a little bit of exercise on the day you eat the most, it doesn’t hurt. The key is planning this walk before you start the meal. This is a good way to spend some productive healthy time with your family while working off the meal. Consider hitting the gym or joining in a local “Turkey Trot” 5k the morning of Thanksgiving. The more you burn, the more you earn.
Change your attention — Yes Thanksgiving has a lot of food involved, but that’s not the only thing the holiday is about. Start to move your focus toward other aspects of the holiday like seeing family, watching the football game, watching the parade or any other traditions your friends and family have. If you’re constantly focused on food for the next two weeks, you’re way more likely to over eat and pack on extra weight over the holiday weekend.
Pack smart — Now where I’m from Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without a good take-home plate. I won’t say don’t bring a plate home, but make sure you’re smart about it. Let Thanksgiving day be just that, one day. The food you’re bringing home should be things that you can incorporate into your normal healthy diet. If you wouldn’t normally eat it, then leave it at grandma’s. Pile on the turkey and veggies and leave the pies and cookies on the table. If you have the unfortunate duty of hosting the big day, make sure you have a plan to get the food out of your house ASAP. This is a great time to donate left overs to homeless shelters or push them on your guest. I’m OK with anything but looking at unhealthy foods for a week. The more you see it, the greater chance you’ll eat it.
Drink smart — Sometimes the booze that does the worst damage. If you’re drinking wine, go for red dry wines and monitor your pours. Only refill your glass once it’s empty. Sometimes we constantly refill wine glasses and end up drinking a full bottle but think we only had one or two glasses. By finishing your wine, you will be more aware of how much you drink. If you’re king of the cocktail, remember to hit your drink with soda water or club soda to help balance your hydration and cut calories. Every calorie counts.
One really really bad eating day can take a week or more of workouts to recoup and get back on track. Stay focused on you health.