Every year Americans across the country gather on the fourth Thursday of November with their family to celebrate Thanksgiving. The tradition is to get together with family and have a large meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, casserole, stuffing, corn, sweet potatoes, and usually either pumpkin or pecan pie, and talk about things we are thankful for. It can be a lovely holiday but not exactly the healthiest one. It’s the kind of holiday where you usually need to loosen your belt buckle after. But if you’re focused on your health, there are ways to avoid that post-thanksgiving bloat. We have some healthy ideas to help make your Thanksgiving happy and healthy.
A Healthy Thanksgiving Starts with Breakfast
A lot of people like to wake up on Thanksgiving morning and skip breakfast. The reason being that they like to make room in their bellies for the large meal ahead. The thing is that skipping a meal actually backfires because you usually end up over-indulging later and eating more than you wanted because you’re so hungry. The solution? Try having a healthy, normal sized breakfast. Whole grain oatmeal, fruits and veggies, egg white omelets, are all a good choice and will keep your appetite in check so you don’t pig out later.
It’s also important to make sure you get the nutrients your body needs so you don’t feel so sluggish later. Food comas are common after Thanksgiving dinner, but they are not the healthiest thing to experience, so make sure you’re eating right beforehand.
Say Thanks to Your Body Exercising
Since Thanksgiving is a holiday, most people want to relax, hang out on the couch, and watch TV. After all, there’s the Macy’s parade, football games, and Thanksgiving specials all day. Even though it may be tempting to veg out, if you want your Thanksgiving to be healthy, it’s important to make some time to get active. There are gyms that may be open for select hours on Thanksgiving. It may be difficult to set aside some time to go, but even if it’s just for half an hour, you’ll feel a lot better afterwards.
Another good way to get the blood flowing is by paying a football game. It's a family tradition in a lot of homes to play football on Thanksgiving. If that isn’t your cup of tea, it might also be good to go for a walk or jog in the pleasant autumn weather. Whatever activity you choose, try to make sure you get some exercise during the holiday.
More Thanksgiving, Less Alcohol and Appetizers
Any good Thanksgiving dinner usually has some wine, cheese, and crackers to start off with but if you’re trying to watch your figure, you might want to go easy. All those cheese and crackers have carbs and hidden calories you might not be aware of. They seem like light snacks, but the calories can catch up on you. Same thing with any other appetizers your party may have. Also, it’s good to take it easy on the wine or spirits your dinner may have. They are full of sugars and can make you more lethargic as the night goes on. If you do want to enjoy your family’s cocktail hour, have a few small bites and maybe a lighter alcohol, and take it slow. This will ensure you don’t overdo it that night.
Use a Smaller Plate and a Bigger Fork
This may sound strange but apparently it really works. When you have a big plate with white space left over, your brain perceives it as a smaller amount than if it is a smaller plate with no space left over. If your brain thinks it is getting less food, it makes you want to go get seconds. It’s also easier to control your portion size with a smaller plate since we tend to take a plate and fill it until its full. Our eyes have a bigger appetite than our stomachs, so we tend to put more food on our plate than we can eat. We also don’t like to waste food, so we may eat left over food so as not to be wasteful.
It may also benefit you to use a bigger fork, however. The reason being, is that if we use a small fork, our brain tends to perceive us as not eating very much so we tend to eat more than we should. With a larger fork, it feels like we are making more progress with our food. Believe it or not, these small details can make a big difference in how much we eat.
Enjoy Thanksgiving More by Eating Slower
If you’re someone who eats quickly, you might want to pump the breaks on Thanksgiving night. The reason being is that it takes time for us to feel full after eating. Our brains can’t keep up with how quickly we eat food, which is why you can eat a full plate of food in 5 minutes and still feel hungry for more. If you’re looking to eat less, take it easy and chew slowly. Even when you’re done eating, wait at least 15 minutes before deciding to get seconds. It takes that long for our bodies to feel the amount of food we just ate. You will eat less if you take your time because you will feel full sooner. So, take your time this year, your stomach will thank you.
Fill Up on Veggies and White Turkey Meat
Most of us tend to go for the dark meat, the mashed potatoes, the stuffing, the gravy, and the casserole. While they are all delicious, they also tend to be the most filled with carbs, calories, fats. And not the best quality nutrition. It’s better for your health if you fill up with salad, peppers, beets, and Brussel sprouts. You want to avoid higher calories vegetables like corn, potatoes, or green peas. White turkey meat is also much leaner than the dark meat and has less fat. Have bigger portions of the healthier food and smaller portions of the not so healthy food and you’ll be thankful.
A Healthy Idea Is to Take a Walk on Thanksgiving
Once you’re finished with dinner try going for a walk around the neighborhood. This will help you burn some calories you just gained. Standing up and walking will also help you feel less full and digest the food. If it’s brisk out it will also help you burn more calories, since our bodies tend to burn more, when its colder out. It may be difficult if you are feeling tired, but you will actually feel more energetic after taking a quick walk around the block than you would by staying on the couch.