Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!! As the holiday quickly approaches, I have seen many of the “surviving Thanksgiving” articles, typically consisting of tips to “get through” Thanksgiving without gaining a dress size. Which is sometimes way harder than it sounds. Full disclosure, I’m going to give you a few of my own tips here, and yes, one of the things we’re going for here is maintaining that svelte form you’ve been working so hard for. But the most important thing is NOT how to cut your calories. Because this day- be it Thanksgiving or some other holiday or really any other day at all- was not given to us so that we could survive it. We are meant to thrive in it!This year, my goal is to spend the day doing just that, and enjoying the day, its meaning, and my family. I want to spend the day being thankful for all that I am blessed enough to have (yes, including food) WHILE being true to myself and my personal goals. These things do not have to be mutually exclusive!
So with that in mind, here are my tips for thriving this Thanksgiving.
Workout in the morning
Thanksgiving is the perfect day to get a good morning workout in. If it’s too late to sign up for the local Turkey Trot, you can still have your own personal Turkey Trot at home. Invite a friend. Or go for a bike ride. Or do a HIIT routine. Whatever you want to do, but get up and get moving. This isn’t an excuse to eat more calories during the day, it’s just a way to not only get your metabolism going, but also a way to keep your mental game strong by keeping in mind how good it feels to be healthy.
PS- when you’re done with your run, add on these post run finishers!
Eat a normal breakfast
This isn’t the time to fast until dinner time so you can eat all your calories in one sitting. Breakfast is the time to keep your head on your shoulders and again, remember how good it feels to be healthy (and in control). Try overnight oats or an omelet or stick with the trusty protein bar. This way you’re not ravenous by the time dinner rolls around. (Did you see what I did there? Dinner rolls.)
Drink a ton of water
All day. During your workout, after your workout. While you’re cooking or traveling. During dinner. After dinner. Guzzle that water down. It will help you feel fuller and it will also help you to keep things moving. Plus, Thanksgiving is really an all day event that tests your stamina. You gotta stay hydrated.
When it comes to appetizers, load up on the veggies
When dinner is still several hours away but there are plenty of delicious appetizers staring right at your face, it’s hard to resist. Yes, have some of that amazing dip and some of the whatever-that-is-that-has-bacon-on-it. But make the bulk of your snacking revolve around veggies. Man the veggie tray. Claim it for your own. If you feel bad about it, bring an extra cucumber to slice up when you polish off the original spread.
Eat very small portions of your favorite foods
You know how that first bite of your favorite food is ohmygodpleasedontletthiseverend AMAZING?? You can literally feel your taste buds water and come alive with the flavor, and maybe you even let out a little moan, and you’re not even embarrassed. And then the second bite is still pretty darn good, but it’s not quite the same. Your taste buds get ahold of themselves and settle down. Third bite is still yaaaasssss because it’s tasty but the luster is fading fast. After that you really start to lose your appreciation for this delicious, delicious food. The honeymoon is over after just a few bites. So why keep going? You have so many of these foods in front of you, it makes no sense to fill half way up on one of them so that by the time you get to the last one you’re not even enjoying yourself anymore. Take very small portions- maybe 5 or 6 bites worth of each food. And enjoy each and every one of them. Speaking of that…
Take your time
For heaven’s sakes, put your fork down between bites! Talk to whoever is next to you or across from you and remember what you’re doing here sitting around the same table. This isn’t a race. Let yourself enjoy the company that comes with the food.
Skip the food that isn’t that exciting to you
I’m willing to bet that there is at least one food (mom’s green bean casserole? Grandma’s homemade stuffing?) that you’ve never really been that wild about but that you always put on your plate because you feel guilty and obligated. Stop it. It’s not like I’m asking you to jump on top of the table and declare that you hate and have always hated and always will hate your mom’s cooking. I’m just saying, save it for the people that really enjoy it. And compliment her on something else that she made.
Make smart choices when you have them.
Some foods at Thanksgiving are sort of interchangeable when it comes to flavor and purpose, but not when it comes to calories. Here are a few examples:
Turkey: Choose white meat instead of dark.
Bread: Choose a roll over corn bread.
Sides: Choose green bean casserole over stuffing.
Sides: Choose sweet potatoes over candied yams.
Desserts: Choose pumpkin pie over pecan pie.
Don’t take home leftovers
My mom has actually stopped offering me leftovers. She knows I won’t take them home. And she knows (I think) that it’s not because I didn’t love the food. There is a polite way to decline leftovers without making the host (or your mom) feel as if you’re rejecting her cooking. Food can be delicious and enjoyed at dinner, but that doesn’t mean that you have to keep consuming those calories for days on end. But if you’re offered turkey (especially white meat), I say go for it.
Take a walk after dinner. Invite someone to come with.
I know there’s a football game on. Or dishes to do. But they’ll be there when you get back. Remember that Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what you’ve got, and I think many of us are most thankful for our loved ones. So why not spend a little quality time with one (or two or three) of those said loved ones on a brisk walk after dinner? It will bring you closer and help you to digest and reset so that you’re not tempted to keep chowing down.
So there you have it. How do you thrive during Thanksgiving?