“As we express our gratitude,
we must never forget that the highest appreciation
is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Thanksgiving happens to be one of my favorite holidays of the year because I LOVE giving thanks. There is no better reason to express gratitude for those that you love and take time off to celebrate all of the blessings in your life. However it can be challenging to balance all the celebrations with healthy, mindful living. Heavy meals, stressful schedules, and travel can cause us to feel weighed down. But I believe with a few simple healthy alterations you can stop the holiday food hangover from happening. Here are some of my suggestions for a happy, healthy Thanksgiving celebration. This is just a list, choose which thoughts will work for you. Remember: You can be the change. Start a healthy Thanksgiving tradition and pass the good feelings on <3
Caroline’s Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving Strategies.
- Aim to maintain (not lose) weight during the holiday. This one is key – set a realistic goal to maintain your weight and practice healthy behaviors during Thanksgiving.
- Offer to cook or bring a healthy dish to your Thanksgiving gathering. I like making these maple roasted sweet potatoes or honey mustard carrots. Healthy, festive, and satisfying!
- Eat breakfast and make it healthy. Eating a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein (eggs or egg whites, salmon, protein-enhanced smoothie, Greek yogurt) and fresh fruit (apples, pears, berries) or vegetables (spinach, bell peppers, broccoli) will get the day started on the right track and help keep you satisfied and less likely to binge or “pick” throughout the day. Not only that but a strong start to the day is essential in keeping your metabolism going and your energy levels up.
- Eat regularly and in some kind of reasonable pattern. It may be tempting to skip meals or plan to restrict or diet the day following a family holiday — but this is self-sabatoge and will set you up for failure with your healthy lifestyle goals. Make the Thanksgiving meal just one more meal in the week rather than investing it with supernatural powers. Remember, much of the meal is healthy. The key is portion size and moderation.
- WORK IT OUT in the morning. Whether you are near your own gym or visiting your family back home, planning an intense workout before the busy day begins is essential. It will jump-start your metabolism and give you some time off to decompress from all the holiday festivities and time spent “on”. If you can get outdoors for a hike, brisk walk, bike ride, run, ski, surf, paddle, or snow shoe, do it. The outdoors is invigorating and you’ll take in some needed fresh air. Remember: you don’t need to do a 90 minute marathon workout, a 20-40 minute intense circuit workout will be most effective in boosting your metabolism and getting your day started strong. Here’s an example of an intense 10 minute workout you can do anywhere. Repeat the circuit 2-3 times for a longer sweat session or go through it once and focus on quality. I cant wait to hear what you think 🙂
- Practice being present. Take your time and enjoy what you eat! Although it is tempting to dive right in and gobble everything down, slow your spoon and take the time to chew, breathe, and appreciate your food. Putting the fork and knife down between bites will actually result in less of a chance of overeating. It’s a good idea to stop eating before you are STUFFED to the brim. It takes the brain a little bit of time to register satiety (the feeling of fullness) after the food hits the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Stop when you are satisfied not when you are stuffed. Remember it takes 20 minutes for the body to register that its full.
- Drink lots of water. Water will help your intestinal tract process food and digest. It will also take the edge off your hunger and help you avoid overdoing it on the calorie beverages (e.g., soda, fruit punch, alcohol, egg nog, etc.).
- Pick your Faves! Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy and indulge. The key is not over doing it. Survey the whole table before starting. Choose which foods you’ll enjoy most and if it all looks good, take a small taste of everything. Remember portion control is key to indulging mindfully. Often all you need is a taste of these to satisfy your craving. Make it your goal to practice moderation, enjoy each bite, and give thanks!
- Practice what you will say to food-pushers. Oftentimes family members want to see you “enjoy” the meal, and think that the only way that you can do so is to overindulge. Talk to family members in advance about your goals and ask them to support you by not commenting on how much you are eating or pressuring you to have a second serving of Mom’s famous stuffing. Think ahead of different ways you can communicate your healthy living goals to them in a clear and compassionate way. Remind family that you are trying to enjoy your time with them and that you appreciate their support.
- Get some fresh air after dinner. This is one tradition my family always practices that I love. After dinner we go for a walk around the neighbourhood to digest and catch up. Its a great idea to get outside for at least 30 minutes post-meal to move. The fresh fall air will invigorate you and fall is a beautiful season to enjoy some quality time with family. I believe one of the best ways to bond is to get moving and am thankful my family has this tradition.
- Focus on more than food. In the beginning, Thanksgiving wasn’t about eating or football. According to Wikapedia, “Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.” In truth, there are so many other things that make Thanksgiving special. Ask family members to share what the holidays mean to them. Perhaps it means reconnecting with family members that you don’t usually get to see, or sharing in a service activity that feels good. Brainstorm ideas with your family in what you can do together to make the season more special or connected. Take your focus this Thanksgiving away from what you are eating and on towards what you are celebrating 🙂
More than anything Practice gratitude! Thanksgiving a great time to reflect, spend time with loved ones, and to feel gratitude for blessings received. Be present, positive, and make the most out of the holiday by feeling your best. Whats one way that you feel your best during the holiday of thanks?? Leave your suggestions as a comment below, I love hearing how you inspire healthy living in others 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I am thankful for each and every one of you, and I appreciate your support in helping to continue to spread the message of wellness, health, and positive thoughts for positive results. Wishing you the happiest of holidays.
With gratitude and love,
Other Things To Check Out This Week:
- Tis the Season for STRESS Reduction. Beat stress and Breathe easy.
- 10 Health Tips for Surviving the Holidays
- Healthy Holidays: Stay balanced and Savor The Season
- Plane Travel The Healthy Way. Great infographic from Greatist, I am a big believer in flying health care.
- Healthy Holiday Food and Fitness: Diet, Stress, and Meal Tips for Healthier Holidays from WebMd