There’s no denying that holidays are a time of indulgence. It’s a season spent enjoying time with family and friends, and likely involves recipes passed down for generations, a second helping of dessert, and lots and lots of leftovers. These festivities all kickstart with Thanksgiving. It’s like an annual “ready, set, go” to a few months of massive amounts of eating and likely, not a lot of restraint. I’ve never been one to approach Thanksgiving with a calorie goal in mind, but there are a few helpful tips that I use to keep my holiday in check so I can enjoy it without a stomach ache.
Eat a balanced breakfast
So many people approach Thanksgiving by skipping breakfast in order to hold out for the larger meal of the day. Folks, that’s the wrong approach! Eating a balanced breakfast, including protein, helps curb your appetite and keep you fuller, longer, which may actually prevent you from overeating at dinner. Plus, it kickstarts your metabolism so you will digest your dinner better. When you skip meals, your body goes into “starvation mode” and then when you finally do sit down to eat, it will assume you won’t feed it again for a long time and will hold onto that food longer, instead of metabolizing it.
Fit in activity before the feast
One of my favorite things about this time of year is the holiday-themed exercises that go along with it. Whether you run a turkey trot or organize a pick-up game of flag football with friends, try to squeeze in a little fitness before sitting down to feast. If the weather is rotten, consider doing a holiday sweat sash at the local cycle studio, dressed to the nines in turkey attire. For those of you on kitchen duty, take breaks to watch the parade in between stuffing the turkey and mashing the potatoes with the fun exercise game below. Just something to get your body moving in the morning and work up an appetite before the big meal!
Keep appetizers plant-based
This one is a newer challenge I developed last year, and personally, it’s one of my favorites. In my family, we always snack on appetizers throughout the day and then sit down to dinner around 4 or 5 pm. I found last year that the appetizers were always the same: cheese and crackers, trail mix, potato chips… they really didn’t excite me and didn’t represent any of the seasonal dishes I was craving at the moment, and certainly weren’t nurturing me at all. So I decided to shift appetizers to plant-based, to incorporate more seasonal foods – plus the fiber helps fill you up so you are less likely to over-indulge when you sit down to dinner. Last year I put together the adorable fruit turkey pictured above, and got a total kick out of watching the kiddos enjoy the design! It’s also a great time to try a new cooking experiment, because if it tanks – at least it was only the appetizer, right? 🙂
Enjoy the meal
Let’s not chalk it up to something different than what it is: Thanksgiving is a feast. That’s totally okay. When you sit down to the meal, focus on truly enjoying the food. Savor your meal, and as totally cheesy as it sounds: enjoy the company. Eat until your satisfied, not uncomfortably stuffed. Trust me, there will ALWAYS be leftovers – and leftovers are half the fun!