Tips for having a healthy thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it’s time to start preparing. And that doesn’t just mean food. This is a great opportunity to come up with mindful strategies on how to avoid the overindulgence of those oh-so-good but oh-so-unhealthy foods. While it is important to enjoy ourselves and our families, it doesn’t have to mean we throw away all of our good habits.  Here are some tips to having a happy and healthy thanksgiving!

Get Active.  One of the best strategies to prepare for the holiday feast is to get moving before your big meal. Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories. Go for a run in the park or do a strength training workout. By working the body, you create space for small indulgences. Make sure to sweat and get the heart pumping! Participating in fun physical activities like flag football or taking a brisk walk is also a great way for families to enjoy the holidays together.

Eat Breakfast. While you might think it makes sense to save up calories for the big meal, experts say eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite. Start your day with a small but satisfying breakfast — such as an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast, or a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk — so you won’t be starving when you arrive at the gathering.

Eating a nutritious meal with protein and fiber before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices.

Lighten Up. Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, make your recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories. There is more sugar and fat in most recipes than is needed, and no one will notice the difference if you skim calories by using lower calorie ingredients.

Some suggestions:

  • Use fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey      and make gravy.
  • Use sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or      fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods.
  • Reduce oil and butter wherever you can.
  • Try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in      creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.

Police Your Portions. Thanksgiving tables are bountiful and beautiful displays of traditional family favorites. Before you fill your plate, survey the buffet table and decide what you’re going to choose. Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without. Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long, instead fill your plate with small portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable, traditional foods.

Skip the Seconds. Try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings. Leftovers are much better the next day, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you are less likely to overeat and have more room for a delectable dessert.

Slowly Savor. Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate full of food, experts say. Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber add to the feeling of fullness.

Leave the table. After you have finished eating dinner and before dessert, play games together as a family or take a walk. Then come back and enjoy a light sweet snack along with hot coffee and tea.

Go Easy on Alcohol. Hydrate with water, not alcohol. Water helps curb your appetite and makes you feel full faster and longer. While it’s ok to enjoy alcohol, make sure to have water between drinks to stay hydrated. Keep in mind that alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which can lead to possible poor judgments about a second (or third) helping of pumpkin pie.  The calories in alcohol can also add up very quickly.

Be Realistic. The holiday season is a time for celebration. With busy schedules and so many extra temptations, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.

Focus on Family and Friends. Thanksgiving is not just about the delicious bounty of food. It’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends.

Practice Gratitude. Having an abundance of food, family, and friends is something to be truly grateful for. Take a moment to reflect for all the blessings you have in your life. It is a day to express that gratitude and share it with others. That’s better than anything else.

give thanks

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