The holiday season is officially upon us now that Halloween is over. First up…Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around giving thanks and practicing gratitude. However, it’s a unique holiday in that food is a main focal point of get-togethers and celebrations — more so than other American holidays.
A day centered around food can present a major challenge for those who are trying to eat healthy and avoid “falling off the wagon.” This year, take the challenge head on with these strategies for a healthy Thanksgiving holiday.
Healthy Thanksgiving Fundamentals
Have a Plan
First, come up with a plan to save you unnecessary stress. Decide what foods you will prepare, where you are celebrating and what the events of your day will look like. Once you have a roadmap, it’s time to make decisions. Many times, knowing exactly what the day will entail can provide comfort because you can prepare for it.
Fit in Fitness
Make the day more about activities and less about dinner and treats. Find time for an early morning walk before the day kicks off. Involve your family in an afternoon of outdoor yard games or a game of driveway basketball. Activities can keep you busy and away from the food table. You never know…family activities can be a new tradition for years to come!
Make it a Day, Not a Weekend
You may not make “perfect” decisions on Thanksgiving Day, and that’s okay — but don’t turn the day into a whole weekend off your routine. If you allow yourself to have some extra sweets and treats on Thanksgiving Day, try not to let those foods spill into the weekend. Set limits and eat within moderation. One day or meal will never ruin your plan or derail you entirely. Getting back on track is key to long-term success!
Prioritize Your Favorites
When making choices at the dinner table, make an effort to choose your favorite items, but to pass on others you may not care about as much. For example, if you love your grandmother’s potatoes, choose them, but skip the macaroni and cheese that isn’t your favorite. Make this Thanksgiving all about balance.
Make Some Substitutions
Making a few ingredient substitutions in the kitchen can be easier than you think. Use a little less sugar in desserts, throw some extra vegetables into your dinner to pack in more nutrition, and cut back on the butter in your mashed potatoes. Consider searching for some new recipes prior to the big day to mix things up. Chances are, no one will notice the substitutions you make.
Focus on the Social Aspect
Thanksgiving should be about spending time with loves ones, not solely about food. Catch up with your great aunt during dessert time. Spend some extra time coloring with your niece when everyone is going back for seconds. Cherish the time you have with family and friends, and treat the delicious food as a bonus — not the center of the holiday.
Pass on the Leftovers
Instead of keeping the desserts and dinner leftovers in your kitchen for days, give them to everyone leaving your house. Having extra food around can lead to temptation and mindless snacking. If you’re dining somewhere else for Thanksgiving dinner, consider passing on the leftovers or only taking some of your favorite dish.
Rethink Your Drink
Calories in alcohol, coffee beverages and sweet teas can add up quickly. Swap the sweet pumpkin coffee drink for a cup of regular coffee with sugar-free creamer. Have a glass of water or two after your glass of wine.
Above all, spend Thanksgiving with those you are thankful for, and those you actually enjoy spending time with! When it comes to food, remember that moderation is key, and you can accomplish that in a variety of ways. Whether it’s making ingredient substitutions, limiting leftovers or making time for physical activity, there are many ways to make your Thanksgiving healthier. Have fun and enjoy the season!
For more holiday health tips, check out these other posts from the Your Weight Matters Blog: