We’ve reached that time of year when everyone starts to argue again about the best choice. No, I’m not talking about the Presidential election, Black Friday or your child’s wish list for holiday presents. I’m talking about the best dish on Grandma Betty’s dining room table for Thanksgiving dinner.
Each fall, our focus shifts from summer clothes and dieting to gluten-filled fried foods at the fair and stretchy pants that will allow us to try a little bit (or a lot) of all the delicious foods available at our family gatherings.
After several trips to the all-you-can-eat buffet, we roll over to the couch with stomachaches as we lounge the rest of the day watching all the great (or not so great) football games.
While tradition is fun, it can also be enjoyable to start new traditions.
According to the Calorie Control Council, Americans typically consume 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving day, with a third of those being from snacks outside of the main meal. Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the food, football, family and fun, without the fatigue and feeling so full and uncomfortable?
Here are my top ten tips to enjoying this holiday season without regret:
1. Break a sweat before you break out the turkey. Whether it’s a Thanksgiving Day 5k, a family walk, a friendly flag football game, or raking leaves and jumping in the piles, find a way to be active before you eat and the tryptophan sets in.
2. Eat a light breakfast with protein to keep you full so you don’t keep diving into chips and dip and you can save room for the main courses. A piece of whole grain toast with two eggs or a bowl of oatmeal with berries would be great options to help you stay on track.
3. Bring a healthy option to the table. If you are in charge of providing a side item for your annual meal, come armed with a dish that you know won’t break the button on your pants. A simple salad, green beans (minus all the cream!), or a cauliflower puree (think healthy mashed potatoes) are alternatives that your family can gobble up.
4. Go easy on the appetizers. Sure, those cheese and crackers may be convenient while waiting for the big stuffed bird to come out of the oven, but are they really as savory as Aunt Jean’s garlic mashed potatoes that you only get once a year? Be sure to save room for your annual favorites without loading up on appetizers first.
5. Survey the buffet. Take a look at everything that is available before diving in head first. Choose a special casserole or treat ahead of time that you would like to have and load the rest of your plate with healthier options like white meat and vegetables.
6. Slow down! Chances are, you don’t get to sit down and have a giant meal with your family every day. Enjoy the conversation, soak up the laughter, and take your time eating. Put your fork down between bites so you can truly taste the goodness that you are partaking in during your time together. It takes your brain and stomach 20 minutes to recognize you are full so by slowing down, you won’t stuff yourself silly.
7. Skip the seconds. There will more than likely be leftovers the next day so you can try whatever you missed out on tomorrow. It also helps you to save room for a sweet treat for dessert!
8. Drink – with caution. With all the food you are consuming, be sure to consume plenty of water as well. You will be thirsty, but remember that calories from alcohol and egg nog still add up. Think twice and reach for more water before you continue to fill up your wine glass or beer mug.
9. Help clean up. Give your legs a mini workout as you take dishes from the dining room table to the kitchen. Bonus perk? You will gain extra steps for your Fitbit along the way. Your arms can even get a workout while scrubbing all the dishes. According to a recent study, washing dishes is the most calorie-burning chore each week. Just 15 minutes a day can help burn 560 calories! So brush up and get a head start on your Black Friday workout – you know, running from store to store to get all the good deals.
10. Relax. One day of eating a little extra will not ruin you. Just remember not to let the extra indulgences and overeating become a habit. Get back to your normal routine the next day so you can feel happy and healthy as you enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.
For more healthy living tips, recipes and workouts, follow Hilary’s journey at www.facebook.com/hilaryschaeferfitness