A few years back, I shared 11 tips for a healthy Thanksgiving. Just to recap, here they are:
- Just take a small scoop of cranberry sauce. It’s loaded with sugar and can have 300 calories per half cup.
- Remove the skin. While the skin adds great flavor and is a nice treat for special occasions, it does contain extra calories and fat – and is usually coated in butter.
- Go light on the gravy. Gravy, depending on how it is prepared, can be loaded in fat, calories and tons of sodium. Just use a touch of it.
- Eat before dinner. Have a healthy lunch before going to Thanksgiving dinner so that you’re not hungry. This will help prevent overeating.
- Opt for healthy sides. Instead of going for buttery, cheesy or creamy sides, opt for steamed vegetables and smarter choices.
- Save your calories for the dinner. Appetizers, munchies and finger foods are notoriously high in calories and unhealthy fat. Moreover, they’re not filling. Save your calories for the main course.
- Drink lots of water. Water boosts your metabolism and helps you feel full. And it’s definitely a much wiser choice than eggnog.
- Use a small plate. Studies show that if we use a small plate, we eat less. Moreover, wait 15 minutes before going back for seconds. It takes time to feel full.
- Talk! Instead of chowing down, take time to talk with your friends and family. By eating slower, you give your body time to digest and feel full – thereby lessening the likelihood of overeating.
- Have a few bites of dessert. If you have room, just take a few bites of the dessert options. It will satisfy your sweet tooth without overindulging. And if you’re full, take your dessert to go rather than cramming it down.
- Don’t feel guilty. Thanksgiving only comes once a year, and if you eat a lot – so be it. All of us occasionally indulge and it’s part of creating balance in your diet. Don’t feel guilty about it – because guilt often manifests itself as additional overeating.
Today, I’d like to share 6 more strategies that you can use.
- Smarten up your recipes. If you have any influence over the foods being prepared, it’s easy to make your dishes healthier but cutting the recommended quantities of ingredients like sugar or butter. You can also replace ingredients like butter with healthier substitutions – including avocados!
- Skip seconds. While you may feel inclined to load up a second plate of food, resist the urge. Instead, give yourself a good fifteen minutes to digest your first plate. You’ll probably discover that you’re already a lot fuller than you think.
- Load up on protein and fiber – before the meal. When eating breakfast or lunch before Thanksgiving dinner, opt for foods that are high in protein and fiber. Because fiber and protein digest slowly, it will take the edge off of your appetite.
- Minimize alcohol. Though consuming alcohol may help make family conversations more bearable, it’ll also load your meal up with empty calories. That is, most alcoholic beverages are high in calories but low in nutrients.
- Play football instead of watching it. While it’s tempting to sit on the couch and watch a football game (though, honestly, that doesn’t tempt me at all), it’ll be far healthier to engage in a family game of football in the backyard or a nearby park. It’ll burn off some of that pumpkin pie. If football isn’t your thing, try another activity – or just go on a walk.
- Focus on your family. Sometimes, a shift in perspective can make a big difference. Instead of thinking about Thanksgiving in terms of the food, shift the focus to friends and family. The main event isn’t the buffet; it’s spending time with the important people in your life.
The reality is, Thanksgiving is one of more than a thousand meals that you’ll consume this year. It’s not going to make or break any diet. But having said that, you can use the above tips not just on Thanksgiving – but each and every day to improve the way you look and feel.
P.S. If you want to upgrade your diet (and, in turn, your life), I recommend downloading Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter. Especially with the holidays coming, it’s a wise investment in the quality of your life.