This Thursday is Thanksgiving and what better way for you to show gratitude for your life and health than to continue to take care of your body this holiday season. Sure Aunt Mimi’s pies are delectable and your father’s sausage-filled stuffing is the pride of the family, but this season, we’re giving you a few tips on staying healthy and keeping that belt buckle fastened as you celebrate Thanksgiving.
1. Drink lots of water
Before you grab that first helping, why don’t you start with a few glassfuls of water. Oftentimes when you feel hungry, your body is actually thirsty, so if you fill up with a glass of H20, chances are you won’t eat as much. Also, drinking water is much healthier than sodas, wines or beers, which can be filled with sugars and salts that can increase your chances of diabetes, expand your waistline and stain your teeth.
2. Apples as an appetizer?
Apples are not only good for your but they’re loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. Apples are one of the best foods for curbing hunger, and a great snack to fill up on so you don’t binge on a big meal. If you’re not an apple lover, grab a pear or snow peas so your body has something wholesome to digest throughout the day.
3. Put the kibosh on the nosh
While grazing before the big dinner is allowed, make sure you’re only snacking on the healthy stuff. Avoid eating salty, oily chips and creamy fat-filled dips. Opt for fresh celery, carrots or cherry tomatoes. If nothing like these is available, steer clear of the appetizers in general.
4. Small plate = small serving
When the bird (or the tofurkey) is finally prepared, be sure to serve yourself on a smaller plate. If you condense the size of the plate, you’ll minimize your intake, and thus the calories. The point of eating is to satisfy your hunger, not to fill yourself to capacity – after all it’s the turkey that’s supposed to be stuffed, not you. Also, keep in mind that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to the brain that it’s full, so eat slow and wait awhile to determine if you really do need a second helping of food.
5. Smart selecting
Small smart choices when it comes to eating go a long way. For instance, when selecting your serving of turkey, take the white, lean portion. Do not eat the skin or brown meat. Also stock up on the veggies if you can. Mashed potatoes are an inevitable staple, but don’t ruin them by adding extra butter or salt. Top with some pepper and/or salsa or even chives. Cranberry is yummy, but loaded with high fructose corn syrup and preservatives, if not made fresh. If you already expect that most of the food at your Thanksgiving will be unhealthy . . .
6. Bring your own healthy dish
Make an impression on the host while setting yourself up for success. Bring healthy sides like a fruit salad, vegetable tray, shrimp platter, or roasted nuts. You’ll be the one receiving thanks as you share the healthy food with your loved ones.
7. A spoonful of dessert
It’s inevitable this time of year, to have the most irresistible desserts imaginable at your fingertips. But as tempting as that pumpkin maple cheesecake might be, remember this rule: sample, don’t pile on. It’s okay to taste, but keep it at that. Learn to savor the spoonful or forkful of your sugar-filled snack and you will better appreciate the flavor. If you need to further curb your sweet tooth, grab a piece of fruit and drizzle it with honey or brown sugar.
8. Go for a stroll
Nothing says bonding like a nice conversational stroll down the block or a friendly game of touch football. Whether you choose to exercise before or after the big meal, do try to incorporate some sort of movement to this day. Take the kids to the park to ride their bikes or shoot hoops with your brother-in-law. This is a day for family and friends, so make some memories by staying active.
9. Leftovers advice
Everyone knows that after Thanksgiving there are tons of leftovers, which means more eating. With this in mind, continue to balance your exercise with your food intake. Shopping is one good way of keeping your body moving without too much strain. If the wallet is bare, invite some friends over for a game of tennis or take the dog for a walk down the block. You don’t need to spend money to work out.
This is the season for spending time with loved ones, which is what life is all about. While the holidays are about enjoying family and friends, and not about policing your food intake, you also want to remain conscientious of your health. When it comes to making wise food choices, moderation is key. If you’ve passed on the mashed potatoes and gravy, it’s not terrible to have a second helping of turkey, just don’t overdo it. Remember that it’s these sorts of small yet smart choices that give you the health you need to continue celebrating with your family. And that alone is something to be thankful for.