Before the month is out, families around the country will sit at their tables, gathering to share food, thankfulness, and good spirits. For people concerned about their health and weight, however, the bountiful nature of the Thanksgiving holiday can feel more like a bitter treat than a tasty feast.
Fortunately, the battle for weight loss doesn’t have to be defeated by a single holiday! To make your Thanksgiving turkey dinner more sweet than sour, try these healthy Thanksgiving tips:
- Plan some Thanksgiving activities. One of the things standing between you and a healthier holiday is, well, a lack of standing. Thanksgiving tends to be heavy on the food and light on exercise. While you don’t have to give up your holiday for a major workout, you can certainly include some activities in your day’s plans. Think walks in the park, yoga in the morning, or even participating in a local 5k with the whole family. Not only will you feel better, but the activity will improve your insulin sensitivity, helping with your food intake later. Plus, studies say that exercise helps us make healthier choices in general!
- Customize your meal plans. Most traditional Thanksgiving indulgences are made with more sugar and fat than is needed. This plus big portions lead to us eating high-calorie foods on Thanksgiving and the days following Thanksgiving (leftovers, anyone?). Instead of defaulting to this Thanksgiving setting, try adjusting your recipes to make some alternative, healthy thanksgiving dishes. For example, fat-free chicken broth can baste the turkey and make gravy. Sugar substitutes can replace pure sugar. And plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream can go well in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles!
- Eat breakfast. A truly healthy Thanksgiving dinner follows a healthy Thanksgiving breakfast. That’s because eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite. Eggs and whole-wheat toast or whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk will go a long way in helping you stay in control on Turkey Day.
- Block off time for your feast. The best diets and meal plans are ruined by grazing and snacking, and Thanksgiving leftovers will make it easy to do both. One way to avoid or at least limit your indulgence in a bite here or there is to block off time in your day specifically for your Thanksgiving turkey dinner and its trimmings. By setting a time to enjoy your big holiday meal, you can avoid some of the extra calories you might have taken in during a day-long snacking fest.
- Plan your drinks. Let’s be honest: our favorite empty-calorie beverages add dead weight to our meals on a good day! Before you accidentally have one too many on Thanksgiving, do yourself a favor and decide just how much you will drink with your meal. You can also choose lower-calorie and sugar options, such as vodka and seltzer or wine spritzers, to cut your calories even further. And no matter what, drink plenty of water throughout your day, as staying hydrated will help you feel more satisfied and avoid some extra munching.
- Eat healthy first. Step away from the turkey! Initially, at least. Just like any other meal, one way you can make Thanksgiving healthier is to start it off on the right bite. Specifically, eating fiber-filled green vegetables first will limit the total calories you eat for the duration of the meal. Plus, green vegetables are good for you in general!
- Watch your portions. It’s the size of the feast that really gets us on Thanksgiving - but you can take control of this, too. Surveying your table to decide what you absolutely must eat, skipping things you can enjoy any other day, and avoiding seconds are great ways to keep your calorie intake in check.
- No gorging yourself at the feast. It’s tempting to let yourself go on Thanksgiving just by the nature of the holiday. Still, it’s best to stop eating once you’re slightly satisfied. Your stomach will feel better, and you’ll feel better!
- Be realistic. Let’s be honest: you won’t be losing any weight over Thanksgiving. So don’t beat yourself up over the impossible. Instead, use the guidelines above to set reasonable limitations while giving yourself permission to enjoy Thanksgiving. This balance will allow you to set realistic health goals (i.e. maintaining your weight, rather than losing or gaining any pounds) over the holiday weekend.
While adhering to a weight loss plan over the Thanksgiving weekend isn't the most realistic goal, you can always begin your meal plan and diet program again in December! If you're looking for supportive weight loss programs during the upcoming months, we can help from one of our two locations in Greenbelt and Camp Springs, MD.
Right Weight Center offers a variety of personalized programs that are designed to help you reach your goals in a supportive, physician-directed setting. In addition to four different weight loss plans, we offer fat-burning boosters to help you lose or maintain your weight.
Interested in booking a free weight loss consultations from one of our board-certified staff? Give us a call at 301-345-7885! You can also walk-in during our office hours to discuss your weight loss goals.