If this is the year that you’ve committed to adding weight to your pound-cake but not to your hips, Thanksgiving can often be a stressful kickoff to the holiday season that looms not far ahead. With so many decadent courses on the horizon, it’s tough not to spend these lead-up days fantasizing about how you’re going to bend physics to ensure that there’s nothing limiting how high you can pile your plate at the big event.
While we love to support ambition and planning, this is one of those cases where we might want to rethink our consumption strategy and, to help you do just that, we’ve compiled a list of simple tips to make this Thanksgiving dinner a bit healthier than your last.
1) Eat before you meet
Eating a small, healthy meal in the morning can give you far more control over your appetite so start your day with a breakfast containing protein and fibre (such as an egg with whole wheat toast or whole-grain cereal and greek yogurt) so you won’t be famished when you arrive at your dinner.
2) Lighten up your dishes
Whether you’re the one putting this whole meal together or simply bringing a dish or two to contribute, put a healthy spin on your recipes by reducing the butter and oil where you can and substituting plain, 0% M.F. yogurt or light sour cream for dishes that require heavy cream. View some healthy Thanksgiving side dishes.
3) Schedule a workout date the following morning
As much fun as feeling like a lethargic puddle of a person sounds, you can avoid the following day’s PTFD (post-Thanksgiving-feast disorder) by scheduling a workout date with a friend (or a personal training session of your own) for that morning. Committing to another person that you will get yourself active that day increases your chances of actually going and may also limit the amount of wine you let yourself drink the night-of.
4) Use a smaller plate
If different plate sizes are present, opt for the smaller one to keep portion controlling easier. If the host was able to muster up a matching set for everyone in attendance, create an imaginary line inside the edge of the plate to stay within and mimic the smaller portioning restrictions of the smaller size.
5) Be aware of the spread
Foods such as whole grains, fruits, veggies, white turkey meat, broth-based soups and salads are obviously better choices than some of the other holiday favourites but if you keep your portions small, you can enjoy a bit of everything.
6) Go easy on the alcohol
GASP! Did we just suggest that? We’re not saying skip the wine entirely, just be conscious of the calories you’re consuming through boozy beverages. Alcohol is in fact a type of sugar, with one serving of wine equating to approximately 120 calories. This can add up quickly so try subbing in a glass of sparkling water between drinks to keep yourself hydrated while also lowering your caloric intake.
7) Help clean up
Rather than picking at the leftover ham or sneaking a second (or third) dessert while you wait for everyone to re-congregate after the meal, save yourself the extra snacks and be a good houseguest by offering to help clean up. Not only will you get brownie points with the chef, you will also be physically removing yourself from the table, moving your attention off of the remaining food.
8) Go on a post-meal walk
Nothing gets those digestive enzymes moving like a good solid walk after a three-hour food fest. Seek out a fellow health-hunter before dinner is served and make a plan to take a good long stroll (around 30 minutes would be great!) post-feast.
Even better? Announce your plan when you arrive and get a group to commit! Knowing that you have a crew on board makes it far harder to bail out after you’ve finished your pumpkin pie.
At the end of the day, the holiday season should be about family and celebration so don’t stress too hard if you have an extra helping of stuffing at dinner. If you keep your expectations realistic and shift your focus from weight loss to weight maintenance over this time, you’ll be a lot happier with the results and will probably be ahead of most other people after the holidays have come and gone.