How to Survive Thanksgiving

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Ways to Avoid Overindulging During this Holiday Season

According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories and a whopping 229 grams of fat during a typical holiday gathering from snacking and eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the trimmings1. Here, we have some simple ways to make sure you enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration without the bulge!

  • Eat breakfast. Even if you are having a large, festive lunch or dinner, equip your body with a healthy, energizing breakfast that will keep you full until you are ready to eat your big holiday meal. Focus on protein and fat the morning of with some scrambled eggs with salsa and avocado, or a breakfast sausage sautéed with spinach, tomato and broccoli.
  • Make time for a workout before celebrating. Even 10 minutes of movement makes a difference for your metabolism. Try doing the following exercises for one minute each and repeat twice:
    • Squats
    • Push Ups (on toes or knees)
    • High Knee March (or run in place if tolerated)
    • Plank (on toes or knees as able)
    • Side Lunges or Side Steps
  • If possible, stay out of the kitchen to limit temptation to snack. When you are preparing food, chew a piece of gum to limit extra “tasting”.
  • Make sure you are hydrated. Have a large glass of water in the morning, and if you choose to indulge in alcoholic beverages, make sure to have a full glass of water between them. Dehydration is often confused with hunger, causing us to over-consume unnecessary calories.
  • Before beginning to eat, take a moment to take 3 deep breaths and appreciate all of the hard work that went into preparing the meal, and for the farmers who grow and raise the foods we at times take for granted. This process will help turn on the “rest and digest” part of your nervous system to help let you know when you are full and to better digest your foods after eating.
  • Begin your meal with a delicious salad before filling up on higher-calorie favorites. A dark green leafy salad is full of fiber and nutrients that your body craves to sustain energy and healthy digestion. Focus on adding as many vegetables as you are able and use just a tablespoon of dressing (about the size of your thumb).
  • When preparing your dinner plate, opt for a smaller plate, or if that isn’t possible, try to use just the inner portion of the plate so you can still see at least an inch of the plate all around your food.
  • Try to make ½ of your dinner plate vegetables (spinach, broccoli, green beans, etc), ¼ starch (stuffing, potatoes) and ¼ protein (turkey, chicken or other meat that is served).
  • Go for a walk after the meal is over. By walking at a leisurely pace for 20 to 30 minutes after eating, we improve digestion and are better able to judge our level of fullness which will help you control your portions when it comes to dessert.


Written by Colleen Baughn, OTR, CES


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