Thanksgiving is right around the corner! You know, that special holiday where we are supposed to be thankful for everything that we have: family, friends, health, jobs, a roof over our head— but is also synonymous with feasting. Here are a few tricks to avoid overdoing it at the dinner table and blowing your diet. Remember- how you eat on Thanksgiving Day does not determine your health; how you eat the other 364 days of the years does. Here are a few of our favorite tips for making this special day healthier, plus a few post-binge tips (in case you need them, of course!)
If you’re celebrating with the regular crowd, by now you probably know who brings which dishes (Mom’s ‘special cheesy potatoes’, Aunt Sue’s famous pumpkin pie) so try to pre-plan your plate by thinking about what you’ll be eating (or avoiding). Naturally, this depends on any sort of dietary preferences or restrictions you may have (keto, paleo, etc.), but for many of us: each meal should contain a quality protein, a good carb, and a veggie. Thanksgiving is no different.
Proteins: Turkey– eat the white meat (leaner and less fat). Vegetarian? There are tons of great protein substitutes these days (ranging from the traditional ‘Tofurky Roast’ to ‘Impossible Burgers’ and many others! It’s never been easier to whip up a tasty feast, regardless of your dietary preferences.
Good carb sources: Rice, potatoes, and sweet potatoes (just beware of the butter and/or marshmallows).
Veggies sources: Green beans, corn, carrots, and peas.
2. Hidden Calories
Look out for added ingredients such as sugar, butter, bread crumbs, and sauces. Naturally, no one is expecting you to eat 100% clean on this universal ‘Cheat Day’ (I mean, Thanksgiving)– but if you’re looking forward to treating yourself to a crescent roll and a piece of pumpkin pie— try not to go too crazy!
Have a sweet tooth? Once again, it comes down to planning. There may be a lot of choices, and it’s safe to say that they all will look absolutely delicious. If a taste of chocolate satisfies you, take it. Enjoy it. But if one taste sends you lusting for a lot more, offer to bring your own healthy dessert, such as fresh raspberries and sorbet, or have dessert waiting for you when you return home. A nice reward for a job well done!
Eat slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and really savor each mouthful. (Soft fruits and vegetables will break down more easily than chicken or steak, so you will need to make sure you chew your food as thoroughly as possible. According to the experts at Ohio State University, you should chew softer foods 5-10 times, and more dense foods such as meats/vegetables up to 30 times before swallowing.) Being conscious of your chewing and eating is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your holiday meal without going overboard on calories!
It’s inevitable: the food coma. Take a walk early in the day. And after dinner, suggest everyone go out (if the weather permits) for a neighborhood stroll. Another tip: Plan some outdoor fun before dinner, like a game of soccer or volleyball with the kids. (It’s a great strategy for keeping the appetizer buffet at bay, too.) A little movement or even some light stretching can help you use those additional calories and may improve digestion.
Watching what you eat can be a dangerous thing… especially around family members. Not only that, but for most of us, there’s a certain part of the Thanksgiving Feast that gives us the most trouble. For some, it’s alcohol- for others it may be desert. Knowing yourself is the toughest part, but you can always devise a strategy to get you through. For alcohol, you can choose to split your portions with various parts of the meal, or perhaps you may stick with a mineral water at first and save your alcohol for the main meal. Try to pace yourself and enjoy good food, good conversation and good memories. Naturally, we’re all prone to hearing “You don’t need to watch what you eat,” or “Aren’t you going to try my ___ ?” at the dinner table, and you may even catch a few eyebrows should you politely decline. You can kindly tell them that this is your personal choice, and explain to them why you’ve decided to make the choices you have. It may be a learning experience for them.
It may be crowded at the gym the day after Thanksgiving, but we promise that it’s worth it. Getting back on track immediately will keep you from falling off the workout wagon. While we can all agree that strength training does burn the most calories, if the gym is too packed for you to handle you can surely take your workout outside. Plan an outdoor workout including lots of plyos and HIIT training (high intensity interval training) to help burn off any excess of treats you might have consumed. This workout will have you feeling great after Thanksgiving Day, and all you need is a mat and your gym attire.
*Pro tip: Try hitting the gym after your carb-heavy meal with MD’s Glucose DIsposal Agent capsules. While they have a few advantages, their purpose is to shuttle carbohydrates to your muscles instead of breaking down as fat so you can maximize your performance in the gym and use that surplus of calories to your advantage!
Yours in Health,
Team True Nutrition