Holidays are a festive, happy time of year – but it’s also a time where sticking to your diet and fitness plans may be challenged.
Is it possible to enjoy your Thanksgiving in a healthy way? Absolutely, yes! There are many ways you can navigate the holidays without sacrificing your health & wellness!
By controlling portion sizes, making healthy swaps and watching your calorie counts, you can successfully navigate your way through the Thanksgiving holidays.
Here at NJdiet we know that your diet and wellness is of primary importance, and with a little planning,
you can make it through Thanksgiving without overdoing it.
Below please find our best tips — so that you may enjoy your Thanksgiving the healthy way!
All About Thanksgiving
The Calorie Control Council has estimated that the average American could consume as many as 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, which definitely does not fall into any diet or wellness program!
Of course, it is important to not feel deprived on Thanksgiving. This is a holiday based around spending time with friends, family, football, and food. Holidays only come once a year, and if you are the only one unable to eat the food on the table, you might feel left out.
You can definitely help work against that feeling of deprivation if you load up on healthy foods, then save room for a small serving of pumpkin pie. By filing your plate with mostly healthy foods – and small tastes of the unhealthy ones– you can satisfy all of your Thanksgiving cravings. For example, fill your plate with lean protein and fresh cooked vegetables; and then perhaps a few small spoonfuls of all the extras you want to “taste.”
When you do decide to splurge, make sure it’s worth it and save your calorie allowance for something you really are looking forward to!
General Tips For Wellness At Thanksgiving
Limit Your Appetizers
Keeping in mind a large dinner is just around the corner, limit the amount of “finger food” you consume before the main course! For appetizers, fill a small napkin with the few snacks you’d like to munch on and then enjoy the Thanksgiving meal without guilt.
Control Your Portions
At dinner, fill a small plate with the main course and all the sides you want. There may be multiple plates and bowls set out for guests, but sticking with one small plate usually helps control portion size.
Don’t “Starve” Yourself Before The Big Day
The ‘I want to save my appetite for dinner’ mentality can be a dangerous thing. Approaching any meal, but especially Thanksgiving, totally famished is a bad idea because chances are you’ll stuff yourself with too many appetizers, overeat, and generally overindulge.
Seltzer with a splash of juice or mixed with wine is a great way to spice up water. Reach for a glass of red wine or Champagne, which are lower in calories. The key to adult beverages is moderation.
You don’t need “seconds,” but if you are tempted to it’s a good idea to wait at least 20 minutes so your body can communicate with your brain and tell you how hungry you actually are.
It’s easy to get distracted by social events and gatherings where there’s always unhealthy types of food around. Mindfulness is key. Concentrate on the company you’re with, get away from the appetizers, and move around the party.
Take Advantage Of The Healthy Foods At Thanksgiving
Turkey is an excellent source of protein that will keep you feeling fuller longer, and sticking with white meat will cut down on calories and saturated fat.
Thanksgiving is also a perfect time to take advantage of the nutrient-rich produce; squash, carrots, brussel sprouts, and green beans are just a few vegetables that make delicious side dishes.
For desserts, stick with fruit-based pies — apple, pumpkin, and blueberry, for example — which pack in the nutrition more than other empty-calorie desserts likes cakes, cookies, and pudding-based pies.
“YOUR PERFECT PLATE”
Any dish that has a combination of adequate protein, healthy fats, and high fiber from nutrient-rich vegetables is a recipe for keeping you satisfied and less likely to grab unhealthy alternatives. Feeling full longer is a recipe for success! Some examples:
- For protein, options like turkey, ham, chicken, fish, or deviled eggs as an appetizer.
- For healthy fats, go with some kind of avocado dip and dip vegetables like peppers, cucumbers, celery, and broccoli. Or, use an olive oil-based dressing on your salad.
- For fiber, choose the most colorful veggies, like leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and squash.
Healthiest Food Options
- Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are higher in fiber and lower in carbs than regular white potatoes and contain a number of health-boosting nutrients.
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce: Making cranberry sauce homemade will allow you to control the ingredients, specifically avoiding any added sugar.
- Turkey: choose the white meat portions over the dark and you’ll be in the clear for a lean, low-fat protein source.
- Fiber-rice vegetables: served fresh, steamed, sautéed, or baked without any added sauces you can add to your plate.
Splurge Items; Consume In Moderation (…or not at all)
- Canned Cranberry Sauce: canned sauce can contain up to double the sugar and a number of artificial additives.
- Green Bean Casserole: made with heavy cream and whole milk and topped with fried onions. It’s a vegetable dish, it contains far more calories and fat than the vegetable itself.
- Mac and Cheese: This Thanksgiving favorite, while delicious, is an obvious carb- and fat-loaded dish.
- Mashed Potatoes: Traditionally made with butter, milk, cream, and salt, this high-carb side should be swapped out with mashed cauliflower if possible (and for one-third less calories!)
- Stuffing: traditionally stuffing is made with giblets, sausage, butter, and other high fat ingredients; it’s best to avoid this side, or if you just can’t resist, a few spoonfuls should do!
“Health”Ful Wellness & Diet Tips For Turkey Day
- Don’t Skip Breakfast: Don’t “save space” for dinner. When it comes to weight loss, the old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day may very well hold true. Make sure to opt for a morning meal that’s high in protein like an egg white veggie omelet or non-fat Greek yogurt with fresh fruit—this will help keep you feeling fuller as you head into Thanksgiving dinner.
Work In A Morning Workout: Vigorous exercise may suppress a key hunger hormone for up to 30 minutes after workouts and can increase the levels of an appetite-suppressing hormone for as long as three hours after exercise. Physical exercise is also linked to a reduced preference for unhealthy high-calorie foods. Plus it just makes you look and feel good!
Bring Your Own Healthy Food Option: Volunteer to bring a side of roasted veggies, fresh salad or fruit tray to ensure that at least their will be one healthy option for your meal!
Water, Water, Water: Drinking water up to 30 minutes fill you up prior to the big meal. But don’t limit your liquids to the time before your meal; sipping water throughout your Thanksgiving meals to keep you feeling fuller and slow down your temptation to overeat.
Put Your Fork Down Between Bites: Make an effort to put down your fork and chew your food several times before diving in to your next bite. By increasing the number of chews during meals, you extend the duration of those meals, reduce the speed at which you eat, and lead to less food consumed. And an added bonus is you’ll actually taste all of those fabulous flavors when you slow down!
Avoid Leftovers: One of the most challenging things about Thanksgiving weekend are avoiding all the delicious leftovers! Enlist your family’s help: have each member pack up one complete meal, including dessert, in separate containers with their names on them to avoid being left with too much temptation to overeat the entire weekend.
- Focus On Fun; Not Food: Take the focus off of food and put it back where it belongs—on spending quality time with your loved ones. Bring board games or watch movies, and of course there’s football! Start a new ritual, like a family football game or a group stroll around the neighborhood.
Give Thanks: What Thanksgiving Is Really About
The taste of food is momentary, but memories with your friends and family are forever. Take this day to enjoy the time you have with your loved ones. While trying to keep your wellness and diet goals on track, you might miss out on what the day is actually all about: being thankful for family, friends, health and home. Keep the day simple by recognizing the importance of togetherness — cherish the company, not the food.
And by gathering with your family and friends before you eat to talk about what you’re thankful for this year, you can even be grateful for the progress you’ve made on your weight loss program!
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If you’re ready to start making healthy changes in your life, NJdiet can help! Our program is not
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