7 Top Tips to Keep Thanksgiving Healthy!

Are you ready for some turkey? I know I am.  It’s the best part (besides the family together-ness) as it is high and protein and good brain-boosting amino acids.  But if you find yourself dreading the holiday spread because you tend to “spread out in your hips and thighs” shortly after the holiday is over, I’ve got my top 7 tips to allow you to indulge without the bulge!

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1.  Go for a Cruise.  At the dinner, cruise the buffet before filling your plate and pick 3 things that you must have.  Make sure one is a protein, i.e. turkey, ham or the like; next comes a veggie (remember corn is not a vegetable, it’s a grain, and green bean casserole is no longer considered a vegetable once it’s slathered in chemicals), perhaps handful of veggies off the veggie platter; then pick something with a good amount of a fat in it, to fill you up.  Fat satisfies our tastebuds and sends the signal to our brain that we are full and can no longer continue eating.  Perhaps this will be a dish of olives, or cheese, or some butter on your mashed potatoes.

2.  Make it Yourself.  Probably my top tip when it comes to staying on track at these kind of meals, is preparing dishes that you know is on target for your needs so that no matter where you go, you always have something that you can eat.  Instead of stuffing, how about making a batch of wild rice with some roasted root vegetables added in?  Instead of pumpkin pie, why not bring a couple bars of dark chocolate, break them into bites and set them on a pretty platter to have a simple, and delightful sweet taste to the end of your meal?  Instead of green bean casserole, what about simply making sauteed green beans and tossing with fresh parmesan cheese?  Or how about instead of sweet potato casserole, you simply bake a big batch of sweet potatoes and cut them open with a serving of butter and cinnamon?  Simple, yet delicious! I never attend a party or family gathering without bringing something that I know will one thing I can surely eat without any guilt!

3.  Eat slow.  Eating slow gives your body time to process the nutrients that are coming in so it can send early signals that you are full.  In between each bite, set your fork down and let the taste swirl around on all four corners of your tongue to allow the brain to use all of its taste receptors and send satisfied signals to the stomach to halt eating.  Avoid standing at the counter and eating, but make eating social and about sitting down with your family to indulge together.

4.  Hydrate thoroughly and properly.  Before the dinner and after dinner, sip on lots of cool water.  Cool water sends signals to the vagus nerve (a large nerve that turns on and turns off digestion based on how it is affected) to thwart blood flow away from the stomach to other areas, potentially to burn fat from other areas of the body!  During your dinner, sip on hot beverages, such as hot herbal tea, or hot lemon water.  This signals the vagus nerve to contract the stomach muscles to break down the food more efficiently and aids in the digestive process.  Avoid sipping cold beverages during the meal if you don’t want to be left unbuttoning your pants in front of everyone later as this can contribute to bloating after meals.

5.  Put priority where priority is due.  Thanksgiving is not about food.  It’s about together-ness, it’s about quality time, and it’s a good excuse to sit down with Aunt Betty and see what she’s been up to the last year.  Rather than stand around the food, sit down with someone you love and learn all you can about them.  Make this a day to invest in those you love and spend some quality time rather than filling your pie-hole and falling asleep.

6.  A 5k Turkey Trot does not = a feasting free-for all.  You may potentially burn up to 300 calories in a 5k morning turkey trot, but don’t let those measly little 300 calories fool you.  You will likely put that back into your body with one helping of mom’s mashed potatoes.  Be conscious and aware of portion sizes and food content, keeping in mind that your stomach is only about the size of a standard salsa jar and stretching it beyond that is asking for trouble…tummy trouble.

7.  Going gluten-free?  You can easily do it on Thanksgiving.  These foods will always be on your “yes” list:  turkey, salad (watch dressings and croutons though), nuts, cheese and veggie trays, fruit, deviled eggs and other non-flour containing, none-processed foods. Steer clear of stuffings, sauces, gravies, anything from a can, pies, candies, and cookies.  Ask your server what’s in something before you indulge.  Control the situation by bringing your own gluten-free side dish, like deviled eggs with guacamole inside or a Caprese salad made of tomato slices, mozzerella balls, basil and balsamic vinegar!

So, now you’ve got some tips to help you have a happy, healthy day with family and friends, and avoid the post-thanksgiving dread and bloat.  Choose wisely and live wisely, my friends.  Small changes yield big results.  I’m thankful for you….

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