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How to Balance Thanksgiving Feasts with Healthy Habits

For many, Thanksgiving means stuffing your face with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie until you slip into a carb- and meat-induced coma on your living room couch. We all know how tempting that seemingly endless Thanksgiving spread is, so should we go all out and inhale as many calories as possible? Or stay away completely to avoid unhealthy habits? Is there a way to *ahem* have your cake and eat it too? 

Eating healthy doesn't mean snacking on celery and carrots all day long. You can enjoy eating the things you want and love in moderation, while also nourishing your body with all the right proteins, fruits, vegetables, and nutrients. It’s all about balance! 

Start Thanksgiving Day with a healthy breakfast 

Your first instinct might be to skip breakfast to “save room in your stomach” for the upcoming holiday feast. However, if you’re hoping to have more control of your appetite and eating habits, eating a small, balanced breakfast will help you keep control over your appetite as the day progresses. Breakfast is commonly referred to as "the most important meal of the day," and there's a reason for that. It replenishes your body of the glucose and nutrients in needs to create energy and set the tone for the rest of your day.
Pro tip: Try incorporating protein and fiber in your breakfast to help your body digest all of that Thanksgiving dinner later.
 

Savor your meal one... bite... at a time 

Thanksgiving is NOT an eating competition, so slowly savor every bite. Not only will you enjoy your meal more, it’ll give your body more time to digest your food, allowing your body time to feel “full.” And don’t forget to drink lots of water, it’s always important to hydrate between bites. If you wanna get real fancy, add a lemon wedge to your water or a festive garnish. 

Cleaning your plate isn’t required and skip the seconds if you’re feeling full 

The “clean plate club” is dead. No, really, it’s been scientifically proven that people who were taught to clean their plates when they were children are more likely to struggle with weight problems and eating disorders later in life. In addition, there is no rule that says you have to eat second or third helpings, no matter how much your mother-in-law guilts you into thinking there is. Don’t force yourself to eat more because you feel obligated to. If you’re full, you’re full. It’s as simple as that. Plus, that means you’ll get to enjoy those delicious leftovers tomorrow! 

Focus on family and friends, not just food 

Food may be a key staple when it comes to the Thanksgiving holiday but is that really what’s most important? After the tumultuous year and a half we’ve all endured, don’t forget about what the holidays are really all about: Enjoying quality time with loved ones. Bring a board game or a deck of cards, watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade, or make some paper hand turkeys together. Focus on making memories with your loved ones, not how many calories are in a bite of stuffing. 

Start some active Thanksgiving Day traditions 

Go play a game of touch football in the yard or just go for a nature walk with your family. It helps to break up your day with physical activities and your body will thank you later. Here’s a quick list of other Thanksgiving Day activities for you and your turkey day crew to partake in: 

  • Have a mid-Thanksgiving Day dance party
  • Go on a group bike ride 
  • Play a game of tag in your yard 
  • Run a popcorn relay race 
  • Play a game of cornhole, or bags, whatever you wanna call it 
  • Do a post-meal group yoga session together 

Set some healthy boundaries  

Set boundaries with others that feel the need to tell you how to eat. The holiday season can be tricky as you reunite with family members who tend lose their filters when the alcohol begins to flow. They tend to suddenly feel the urge to give you “friendly advice” on every single aspect of your life. If you have a family member who makes comments about what you put on your plate, or what you don’t put on your plate, separate yourself from them, or just be frank and tell them that it’s none of their business. What you put into your body is your business and nobody else’s! 

Go easy on yourself, Thanksgiving is supposed to be fun, not stressful! 

Lastly, don't beat yourself up if things don't go as you planned. The holidays are about celebrating what we’re grateful for and spending quality time with the people we care about the most. Beating yourself up for having that extra serving of food, or for saying no to Aunt Marge’s homemade fruitcake, does yourself no good. 

We hope this advice helps make your Thanksgiving a healthy and happy one! We your Thanksgiving is full of love, joie, and warmth!