The holiday season is upon us, which means spending time with family, friends, and most anticipated, food. By the end of the holiday season we hear a lot about weight gain from excessive eating and not enough exercise. Our new year’s resolutions don’t always have to be about beginning a healthier lifestyle after the holidays. Why not start now? Here are a few simple, yet rewarding tips for a healthier Thanksgiving feast that doesn’t leave you feeling bloated or out of shape.
- Stay active—make sure you stay active to burn off extra calories you will consume throughout the day. Start your day off with a workout before you hit the kitchen, and then offer to help prepare/clean up the meals so you stay on your feet. Going on a walk after dinner can be a fun family activity that will keep you active. Then you won’t feel so guilty about splurging on some delicious pie (yum).
- Eat breakfast—you might consider saving your appetite for all the food later in the day, but skipping meals will make you more likely to overeat when you get to the party. Try eating a small breakfast full of protein, such as an egg with a slice of whole wheat toast, that will help tide you over.
- Control portion sizes—take a look at all the food on the table first and decide what to fill your plate with so you don’t end up with too much of everything. Remember that you can have leftovers the next day instead of stuffing yourself with multiple helpings in one sitting. Also, remember not to overdo it on the appetizers—it’s tempting, but you don’t want to start your main course already full.
- Eat slowly—when you eat too fast, you have no time to realize that you are full. Put your fork down in between bites and spread your eating throughout the day. If you pay attention to what you’re eating, you will be able to keep track of you’re meals without mindlessly snacking. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to dessert, but do so a couple hours after your meal.
- Stay hydrated—make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, which will add to the feeling of fullness and prevent overeating. Try to avoid sodas and sugary beverages that pile on the calories. If you’re really craving carbonation, limit yourself to just one soda to cut down on extra sugar and calories. You can also try sparkling water infused with fresh fruit or a dash of fruit juice, which contains more natural ingredients than soda.
- Substitute heavy ingredients—things such as butter can be replaced in most recipes with lighter options like olive oil, for example, which contains heart healthy monounsaturated fat and is rich in polyphenols that may help prevent diseases such as cancer.
Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple, but they typically contain a lot of fat from butter and cream. Here’s a lighter recipe for mashed potatoes that contain olive oil and Greek yogurt instead, while still delivering that creamy texture we love.
Using these easy tips to cut back on some of the excess calories during holiday gatherings is a great step toward starting the new year with a healthy lifestyle. Enjoy your time with family and friends, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!