Pumpkin pie, stuffing, and beer, oh my!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and with it comes gluttonous treats that are hard to resist. Surrounding yourself with family and friends over a feast can be good for the soul, but indulging too much can lead to turkey-neck, muffin-top and back fat...and you work too hard all year to sabotage your fitness goals in just one day!
We understand that life is about balance, so here's 10 tips that can help you enjoy Thanksgiving without sabotaging your health.
1. Intermittent Fasting
For years we've been told that skipping a meal could lead to muscle wasting and slow our metabolism...but lots of studies show that's not the case at all. As humans we're designed to go through periods of feast and famine, and giving our body a break from eating constantly is actually healthy for most people.
There are lots of different intermittent fasting protocols you can follow - alternate day, 16 hours off and 8 hours on, weekly fasting etc. The idea is simple though - if you're going to eat lots of calories on Thanksgiving Day, it's wise to restrict calories the day before and after to make up for it.
Thanksgiving morning is a great time to get a workout in. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures and get outside to burn some calories and boost your metabolism before chowing down on all the Thanksgiving goodies. Have family or friends in town? Get a partner workout in to help them get the day started out right, too!
If you venture out to the gym or work up a sweat outside, don't forget to use an athletic car seat cover on your drive home to protect your car seat.
3. Eating Slow is the Way to Go
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to embody the saying "drink your food, chew your water". Chewing food thoroughly until it's almost liquid, and enjoying drinks slowly allows us to truly savor the feast.
So during your meal slow down, savor each bite and drink, and be mindful of what you're putting in your body.
4. Portions Matter
According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. That's more than twice the daily recommended calorie intake for most people.
To avoid over-indulging on this one day, focus on portion sizes. Grab a small plate and cup - that'll help "trick" your mind into consuming less.
5. Be Selective
Thanksgiving feast often includes a cornucopia of foods to choose from. Even if you choose appropriate portions for each of these, you can still go overboard for your entire meal. So instead of trying everything, choose your favorite foods and avoid those you can live without.
6. Eat This, Not That
Eat your vegetables, people! Fill your plate mostly with non-starchy vegetables (ideally raw) and lean protein. Leave the starches behind and you'll avoid lots of empty calories.
Check out this list of common Thanksgiving foods with nutrition info included. Opt for nutrition dense, calorie light foods so you can fill yourself up with the right stuff.
7. Plan an Activity
Sitting around the table makes it more likely you'll keep eating. Instead, plan an activity (ideally one that will burn some calories) - bring a football, go for a walk, or even organize a fun board game so you can stay distracted from the gluttony in the next room.
8. Beware Liquid Calories
Beer, cocktails and wine are often a part of Thanksgiving feast. While alcoholic beverages can all make you feel extra thankful (aka buzzed!) they can wreck your fitness goals if you imbibe too much. In general you'll want to avoid beer and cocktails and instead opt for red wine. Be careful how many drinks you consume, because the more buzzed you get, the less likely you'll be able to say "no" to all the unhealthy foods on the table.
Set a target before your meal for how many drinks you're going to have and stick to it.
9. Get a Buddy!
Give your friends and family something to be thankful for and team up with them to make healthy decisions on Thanksgiving together. Accountability buddies can help everyone involved to stay fit and avoid nutrition pitfalls.
10. Water is your Friend
You drink water when you're exercising, so use that same mentality and discipline to hydrate during Thanksgiving meal, too. Staying hydrated will keep your belly full and also give you something to drink instead of calorie-dense alcoholic drinks.
You Can Do It!
You can enjoy Thanksgiving without ruining your health. After all, there's nothing more important to be thankful for than that svelte, healthy body you've worked so hard for. Follow the tips above and you'll be able to maintain your health and fitness level while still enjoying the best that Thanksgiving has to offer.