How to Stay Fit And Healthy During The Thanksgiving Holiday
Thanksgiving is almost here, that special time of year where the spirit is one of family, inclusiveness, and gratefulness. And of course there are plenty of seasonal favorite dishes you only get once (maybe twice) a year, like turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and marshmallow mashed potatoes.
The beauty of this holiday is that it isn't focused on lavish decor or gift giving – but simply around being surrounded by friends and family for one delicious feast.
However, what makes this holiday so special can also make it very difficult. Thanksgiving can also be a very stressful time for those of us with fitness and health goals, as you'll be surrounded by people who want you to sit around and stuff down as much food and alcohol as possible.
That isn't exactly ideal for the waistline or gym day.
Most shockingly, while Thanksgiving gatherings vary, the average American consumes around 3,000 calories and 150 grams of fat at the Thanksgiving meal, according to the Calorie Control Council. Insane... right?!
Thanksgiving overeating can also cause an unhealthy eating cycle that continues through to New Year’s Eve. So, sadly, while Thanksgiving can be a happy time, it can also be a very stressful time that can lead us down a dangerous unhealthy eating path.
Don’t get us wrong - we love all the love, laugh, and joy that comes with Thanksgiving. But when the family is goading you on to pig out and all your cozy seasonal favorites are readily available, it's easy to wreck all your health progress.
However, if you’re determined to continue successfully on your path of health and fitness despite the temptation of Thanksgiving – then you're in the right place.
Although 'stuffing your face' is the biggest part of Thanksgiving, the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to give up on your health entirely.
We're going to discover the best strategies to stay fit and healthy over Thanksgiving while still enjoying the meal that you look forward to all year long.
1. Stay Active
With Thanksgiving's calming and laid-back vibe, you may be tempted to hit that couch potato lifestyle over the holiday - especially if you fall into a food coma for days. Nevertheless, you can't fall into that trap and must make time for exercise during the Thanksgiving holiday. Hitting the gym on a 'cheat' day will help you stay motivated, get back on track, and aid your body in recovering faster from the effects of high fat, high carbohydrate, sugar-laden meal, like that of the Thanksgiving dinner.
Additionally, exercise will help with easing the other negative consequences of Thanksgiving. The holiday season doesn't just wreak havoc on our diet and workout routine, but also all the shopping, frequent socialization, food management, and managing finances can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Exercise counteracts stress-caused symptoms by promoting the release of hormones (called: serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, etc) that improve mood and ease anxiety.
Plan your workout around the festivities.
Even a quick walk or 15-minute workout can keep your metabolism working and your health heading in the right direction.
Shift emphasis away from the food and toward spending time catching up with your family and friends, playing with the dogs, etc.
If you want to spend as much time with family while getting in extra activity and help your family and friends also stay healthy and avoid the dreaded Thanksgiving aftermath? Then you could have your family and friends involved and get creative with your workouts.
Being active during Thanksgiving isn't just great for staying on track and being healthy. Fun physical group activities are a great chance for family bonding.
Start a family routine of everyone going out for a stroll or bike ride in the neighborhood, after dinner. Or maybe get the family to participate in a Turkey Trot the morning of Thanksgiving, if your city hosts one.
You could even plan a game to play while dinner cooks, such as volleyball, corn hole, or badminton. It’s a great way to keep yourself and everyone away from the appetizer buffet.
Imagine breaking that tiresome Thanksgiving tradition of everyone migrating from the dining table to the living room slowly slipping into a food coma snoozing at the TV? Instead, you'd be keeping the good vibes going and energy pumping with fun activities that'll keep everyone off the couch and enjoying the rest of the day. Plus, everyone's digestion will thank you.
2. Drink Plenty Of Water
Before feasting on that delectable Thanksgiving Day dinner, you must keep your body hydrated and drink plenty of water.
Staying hydrated and drinking water before you eat can curb appetite and help you avoid overeating.
Plus, most of the foods that are served on Thanksgiving are high in sodium, and drinking more water after a salty meal will help with flushing some of the excess sodium from your body and reduce bloating.
Be sure you stay away from sweetened waters and sodas. Sugar-laden drinks like these will only lead to dehydration and lethargy.
If you want a hydrating flavored drink that is still free from added sweeteners?
Just opt for unsweetened sparkling water or tea.
Tea is not only anti-inflammatory (helping fight the effects of unhealthy eating) and very hydrating, but also teas offer a wide variety of different complex flavors that will pair beautifully with the food that is regularly found on most Thanksgiving dining room tables.
Furthermore, if the arrival of the fall holiday season has got you worried about your health? Our article on 3 Crucial Ways To Boost Your Immune System During The Autumn, shares the best lifestyle and dietary steps you can take to prepare your body for the autumn and keep it humming all Fall and into Winter.
3. Choose Healthier Options
Be picky. Don’t just mindlessly load your dinner plate with everything you can see. When choosing something unhealthy, pick only what you really want and enjoy - then go healthy in other areas on the plate.
Think smart and commit to making nutritional compromises.
For example, if your favorites are stuffing and cranberry sauce, skip the bread rolls and marshmallow sweet potatoes. Replace that space on your plate with fiber and load it with green beans and brussels sprouts.
Or if the desserts are your Thanksgiving preference, keep your main course as healthy as possible. Choose mainly just roasted veggies and turkey as your meal and forgo the starches.
4. Don't SKIP Breakfast
You can't save up and carry over calories for a “cheat day". It's as simple as that!
No matter how tempted you may be to skip breakfast so you can 'save up' calories for the big dinner, do not try this. Your body doesn't function like a bank account. Calories are not coins you can just stash away.
Skipping meals to save calories, also referred to as banking calories for a big meal, will only deprive your body of the valuable nutrition you need to run on all day and will cause you to feel hungrier. This'll lead you to binge more uncontrollably when it is finally banquet time.
Research has backed this concept and found that people who skip breakfast eat more calories during the day and tend to be heavier.
5. Smaller Plate... For A Smaller Waist
This tip actually makes a bigger difference than you'd expect. Using a smaller plate at Thanksgiving will control your portion sizes and reduce your calorie intake.
A study collected the data of eighty-five nutrition experts whom they invited to an ice cream social, in which they randomly assigned the guests either a "smaller (17 oz.) or larger (34 oz.) bowl".
The researchers then weighed the amount of ice cream each participant put in their bowl. All but three of the participants finished all their ice cream by the end of the ice cream party. The results revealed that the participants with larger bowls ate 30% more ice cream than the guests with smaller bowls.
So, this Thanksgiving, try using a smaller plate. With less space on your plate, you're less likely to pile up the food to a ridiculous portion size.
6. Slow Down
Slow down and savor your food. By taking the time to actually chew and savor each bite of food, you'll be able to pay attention to your body's signal and be able to tell when you're satisfied not stuffed.
The easiest way to eat slowly is to literally put your utensils down between bites. This will also help you be able to engage with family and friends at the table, instead of constantly chewing and stuffing your face until you fall into a food coma.
7. Don't Fall Off The Wagon
Thanksgiving is a dinner not an endless soiree of food. Don't take the whole week to eat whatever you want and limit your intake of leftovers. The entire holiday week, stay on track with starting your day off right by eating a healthy breakfast and getting in your workout.
The day after Thanksgiving follow your regular health routine and Thanksgiving won’t have that big of an impact on your health goals.
Have A Great Thanksgiving!
For most people, Thanksgiving is dedicated to stuffing our faces with rich, unhealthy foods, and sitting around. However, we can stay on track with our fitness and health goals and make Thanksgiving healthier.
These tips and tricks should be able to help you have a fun and healthy Thanksgiving holiday without missing out on all the food you regularly enjoy around this time of year!
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This informative article is written, by Sophia Mckenzie. Sophia is head content creator and writer, for several premium websites, where her expertise lie in health, nutrition, and wellness. Her content is heavily focused on providing and sharing doable solutions to help people truly thrive, and live their happiest, healthiest, fulfilled life.