It’s that time of the year- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy timmmme!
Try these 11 tips that will help you stick to your health and fitness goals while enjoying your Thanksgiving and all the traditions that come along with it! You’ll feel proud, content and won’t end up in a food coma for the next 10 hours. Win-Win-Win.
- Question your Thanksgiving habits. If you are in the habit of stuffing yourself to an uncomfortable level of fullness on Thanksgiving (trust me, I’ve been there before!), start by questioning why this is important for you. For example: What does eating 2-3 large helpings of mashed potatoes do for you? Does it make you feel good following dinner or stuffed and tired? Why is it important for you to eat another serving? Are you hungry? If so, go for it! If not, what are you hoping to gain from the food? I encourage to write your answers out and journal about this if you are serious about doing Thanksgiving different this year. Evaluate your answers. Are these things really important to you?
- Start with a plan. Begin with the end in mind: at the end of the day what would success look like for you? Before the day begins create a plan for what you define as a sensible amount of food. Remember to consider your goals. How many servings and what will you have? What will you eat before dinner so you don’t show up starving? My next tip will give you a bit more guidance on this.
- Don’t let yourself go to dinner starving. Some people think you should save all your room for Thanksgiving dinner. In a normal day when you are focused on your nutrition goals, do you save all your room for dinner? This mentality actually encourages us mentally and biologically to overeat and sometimes even overeat to a point where we end up physically uncomfortable. Eat before dinner and ensure you have a plan if you aren’t hosting. Offer to bring veggies and hummus, fruit or another healthier appetizer dish. Your goal should be to prioritize lean proteins, fruits and veggies. This will help to keep you full and satisfied so you can make sensible choices that align with your goals during dinner.
- Treat Thanksgiving like a normal meal. Yes, you get turkey and stuffing, sweet potato casserole, pies, ice cream and all kind of tasty treats. When you give yourself a free pass to eat and drink as much of anything you want on Thanksgiving you also give yourself a free pass to feeling uncomfortably full and maybe even sick, avoiding your goals and spending your vacation day feeling lousy rather than great. When you are following a quality nutrition plan, you know that it’s important to have proteins, whole grains/ quality starches and veggies. Prioritize these on your plate. This might look like turkey the size and thickness of your palm, a fist size of veggies, and a cupped handful of potatoes. People might appreciate it though if you don’t actually measure your mashed potatoes and gravy with your cupped hand. You can certainly fill your plate with all your favorites even though stuffing and potatoes are both starches you don’t have to choose. Scoop smaller portions onto your plate eat until your 70-80% full.
- Stick to the 1 plate rule. At dinner, fill your plate with the staples of a quality diet, protein and veggies and choose your other favorites too. Eat what’s on your plate slowly and enjoy every bite of it! Drink water in between bites or carry on a conversation. Slower eaters tend to eat less than their speed eating counterparts. Try not to pick at appetizers, cookie and candy platters or other food that’s out. Enjoy appetizers on one plate. Choose when you will have your appetizers and then take your time eating what you put on your plate and enjoy it! This way you are making a conscience choice of what you are eating. When we pick at things as we mix and mingle, we eat mindlessly and typically eat more than we intended to. When you stick to the 1 plate rule nothing is off limits but, you are being aware and in charge of your portion sizes.
- Put 10 minutes between urges to have a second helping. I hate sitting around the table talking after dinner is over. Trust me I like talking-ask my husband Tommy. However, I’d rather do it away from the table because couches are much for comfortable. At the table, it’s easy for me to just eat whatever is in front of me because it’s there, it tastes good and we all know not every Thanksgiving dinner table conversation is captivating or your preferred topic. When I put 10 minutes in between my urge to have another helping and the action of getting myself another helping, it’s amazing how much I actually change my mind on having another helping. And, I am definitely the girl who likes second helpings. So if this can work for me, it can work for you!
- Have dessert and savor it. Nothing should be off limits, unless of course you are training for a professional sport or serious fitness competition with strict nutrition guidelines. If you aren’t one of these people, have your turkey and eat your pie too! But remember, decide ahead of time what you will have. You don’t need to have the biggest slice of pie. After all you are probably already full from dinner. A small slice can give you the experience without unnecessary calories. In fact, you don’t even need to have pie at all if you are too full. Trust me, you can get pie at the grocery store any day of the week or ask the host if you can take yours home with you!
- Space, limit or avoid alcoholic beverages. If you are planning on drinking, aim to have a full glass of water between each drink. Put space in between each drink. Studies have shown people who drink alcohol eat more food while under the influence. And guess what, people who eat under the influence typically aren’t opting for large helpings of broccoli. Spacing your drinks and drinking water in between has many benefits. For example: you help ensure you keep a clearer mind so you can stick to your master Thanksgiving plan. Even 1 drink can lower your inhibitions and might even cause you to ditch your plan all together. In addition, drinking alcohol can lead to mindless snacking. However, drinking water in between your drinks and aiming to put 10-15 minutes (or more) in between your urge to grab another drink or pour another glass and the action of actually doing it can really help. Sometimes when people take space between their urge and action, they actually realize that after their break, they don’t care for another drink after all.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day and during your meal. We should aim for a minimum of 9, 8 oz. servings of water each day without exercise. There is a solid chance your meals will be loaded with salt. This means you will need even more water. Drink a tall glass of water in the morning- about 16 ounces or 2 servings. Aim to drink a tall glass of water every two hours. This is about the size of a typical disposable water bottle. Yes, there will be apple cider, beer, wine, soda (pop- where my Pittsburgh people at!?) or whatever else at Thanksgiving. You don’t have to say no to this all together. Even if you choose to have another beverage other than water, you still need water. These other drinks aren’t good substitutes for water. In fact, they won’t provide any real nutrition, so technically they are treats. When you are making your plan, it’s a good idea to plan what a sensible amount of non-water beverages (if any) is okay for you based on your goals . Sip and savor!
- Make thanksgiving about the people. If you make it about the food, that’s all your day will be about. Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for all we have in life. One of the greatest gifts we have in this world are the relationships with our loved ones. If we focus on learning more about these people and spending quality time with them, we make Thanksgiving more than a holiday to eat ourselves into a self-induced food coma.
- Be realistic with yourself. Thanksgiving is a holiday. It’s a party. It’s once a year. You will most likely have things you don’t always have and take in more calories, more fat, less protein, whole grains fruits and veggies in general. This is okay! One day won’t derail all your hard work. What’s important though is that you make small changes to make this holiday a little better than last years. Start small- choose one of these tips to try this year! Don’t make it about the food, treat it like a normal meal, enjoy those special treats, but do it in moderation. You are in control of your choices. How much you choose to eat, how slowly you eat, how much water you drink, how much you snack- this is all up to you. Don’t do something just because it’s Thanksgiving, do something because you have evaluated it and it truly aligns with your goals and what you want for yourself. Remember, you will need a plan. If you are one of my coaching clients I know you have heard me say: A goal without a plan is only a wish!
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and know that I am so grateful for you. Thanks for reading this and supporting me by checking out my blog and sharing this with your friends.