For many people, Thanksgiving is an excuse to overeat. But it doesn’t have to be. If you want to have a thin Thanksgiving, there are simple strategies you can use to eat less and still enjoy the holiday. Use these tips to plan your day and eat a lower calorie, guilt-free meal.
5 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving
1. Plan an active day.
You’re more likely to honor your healthy habits if you feel good about yourself when you sit down to eat. Sign up for a local 5K Turkey Trot or grab a few family members and go out for a jog in the morning. In addition, plan a walk for after the big meal. A recent study* found that young, healthy adults maintained healthier post-meal triglyceride levels when they went out for an easy walk after eating a high-fat meal. Of course, this shouldn’t be an excuse to eat more food, but it’s just one more reason to get out and burn a few extra calories after your turkey and mashed potatoes.
2. Exercise portion control.
Thanksgiving isn’t a day to deny yourself the foods you love. But you don’t have to overeat those foods either. Use simple tricks to exercise portion control. Only fill your plate once and when you do, don’t let your foods touch. This is a clever way to make sure you aren’t overfilling your plate.
3. Be a healthy conversationalist.
If you talk more, you’ll eat less. Engaging in active conversations helps to slow the pace of your meal. Eating slowly allows you to feel the sensation of fullness, which helps you to stop eating when you need to. So be a chatterbox! Engage your family members in conversation. Ask questions, tell jokes, and entertain your clan with stories about your life.
4. Have a food plan.
Don’t dive into the mashed potatoes first. Leave the gravy for last. Instead, fill up on vegetables, salad, or a piece of skinless turkey breast in the beginning of the meal. Then as your hunger subsides and as the sensation of fullness begins, start to indulge in the higher-fat foods. If you don”t absolutely love a particular high-fat food (like bread and butter), don’t eat it! It’s not worth the calories.
5. Manage leftovers.
If you cook the Thanksgiving meal at your house, tell your family members to come prepared with take-home containers. Then, at the end of the meal, let them package the food you don’t want to keep in your house. But keep the veggies and lean meat to make healthy lunches. If you eat at someone else’s house, politely decline the offer to take food home. Compliment the hostess on the meal but explain that you are trying to stick to a specific food plan.
Remember, Thanksgiving is a holiday to celebrate family and blessings. Try to focus on the spirit of the day — and not the food on the table — to keep your celebration happy and healthy.
*Aoi W et al. “Combined light exercise after meal intake suppresses postprandial serum triglyceride”