Enjoy Your Thanksgiving Without Worrying About Weight

We are just one week away from Thanksgiving, the biggest eating holiday of the year! For some people that thought may bring fear, for others it brings excitement. Whatever your situation, I have some recommendations for how to enjoy the holiday without feeling deprived or stuck in a food coma. First of all, try to get in a good workout Thanksgiving morning or join in on some turkey fun by participating in your local Turkey Trot 5K, 10K, etc. Not only will working out put you in a great mood for the day, it’ll also help you from getting stressed if you come across a disaster in the kitchen, or get stuck in horrible traffic when you’re already running late to your uncle’s house and you have half of the meal everyone is waiting for in your car. Additionally, most people tend to make healthier eating choices on the days they’ve gotten in an intense sweat session. The next key thing to remember this turkey day is not to starve yourself all day “saving up calories” so you can go nuts once it’s time to sit down at the table. It’s important to eat your normal healthy meals or small meals throughout the day so that you aren’t ravenous once the food platters start getting set out.

For the actual meal, if you have the opportunity to make any dishes, volunteer for as many as you can. If you can’t cook, don’t worry, that’s what recipes are for!  Once you’re in charge of a dish, you have the control to make it healthy. Even the unhealthiest recipes can be made into a healthier version (see my earlier post on healthy recipe swaps). If you are the host, take advantage and make the spread as healthy as you want. If you are a guest and  you’re bringing dishes to the big soirée, it might be best not to tell the host that you plan to make a healthy version of the dish you were assigned to. My aunt, for example, tells my mom and I that we aren’t allowed to (but we do anyway) and she claims she can tell when we use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter instead of the real thing. But what she doesn’t see won’t hurt her, right? We also make other swaps like orange juice instead of maple syrup, and non-fat yogurt instead of sour cream or cream cheese.

Time for the party!

The real challenge begins at Thanksgiving Dinner, what with all the food there for the taking. Try to make a conscious effort to mingle with your family and friends, after all that’s what the holiday is all about. Keep your distance from the appetizers and move around the house to catch up with everyone. Not only will this keep you from filling up before the main meal but it will hopefully keep you active. Once dinner has actually started, you still shouldn’t go crazy and compete with your 17-year-old nephew for who-can-make-the-tallest-mountain-on-their-plate. In the same way, don’t hold back because you’ll just end up feeling deprived. If something looks good, put some on your plate. If you know you’ve had a dish before and it was okay but you didn’t love it, skip it. Two words: Portion Control.

Then, when you’re done with your plate, rather than getting up for seconds, try finishing your glass of water while engaging in a good conversation. If you still feel like you could go for more, stand up and offer to clear the plates. Not only will you be a gracious guest or efficient host as the case may be, you might just end up not wanting seconds after all. Furthermore,  getting up and walking around helps digestion and will delay, if not prevent, the tryptophan in the turkey from taking its toll on your energy level. When it’s finally time for dessert, again, don’t deprive yourself.  Take small portions or share a plate with someone so you still get to try everything. That way, you’re not tempted to eat three whole pieces of pie that you really just wanted to taste.

So, however you happen to feel about the upcoming holiday, try to remember these simple tips and you’ll be sure to enjoy your Thanksgiving festivities without making yourself sick or punishing yourself the next day.

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