Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family and memories to be made – not a time for feeling guilty about food choices or depriving yourself of certain foods. Below are my Turkey Time Tools so you can be healthy AND enjoy yourself. My tips were also featured in Fox News Magazine a week ago; I have included the article link at the end of the piece.
Preparation before the meal:
- A huge mistake people make is eating very little until the big meal. This is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you have a solid breakfast and lunch filled with a good combination of protein and healthy carbohydrates. When you starve yourself during the day in preparation for a huge meal your body has a much harder time acknowledging when you are actually full. You also will get much more intense cravings for sugary and carbohydrate heavy sweets.
- Ditch the all or nothing diet mentality. So many people have “cheat” days then are excessively strict and deprive themselves. This causes them to overeat way too much when they “let themselves go.” I always hear “I am starting my diet tomorrow.” You should erase the term diet from your vocabulary. Indulge in a balanced way; if you are craving a serving of stuffing have a small portion but do not eat three servings. Do you notice how the first serving of an amazing food tastes the best? The food is not as good the second or third time around.
- Remember why you are at the Thanksgiving table in the first place…not to stuff your face with food! Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and be grateful for the people you are surrounded by. Focus on friends, family and conversation. The dinner is only one part of the equation.
- Whether it is a morning jog, a brisk family hike or a football game do something to get your sweat on. Make time for physical activity even if it is a twenty-minute fast walk around the block before dinner. Everything counts and something is better than nothing. Make it a friend and family event. Everything is better with a buddy.
What to eat:
Fill up on protein: Turkey. Go for the light meat instead of the dark meat and skip the skin. Light meat has less saturated fat (unhealthy fat) than the dark meat. Filling up on protein increases your feelings of satisfaction, stabilizes your blood sugar levels and will keep you more full for a longer amount of time. This will prevent you from having thirds, fourths and fifths of the bad stuff. If you are vegetarian make sure there is a healthy protein option at your dinner so you do not just overeat stuffing or marshmallow yams.
Get creative. So many people are closed-minded when it comes to healthy alternatives. Find some healthy swaps. Instead of marshmallows add Greek yogurt to the Yams. Spice up your dishes with cinnamon, garlic and nutmeg instead of extra butter and oils. Spices are incredible; they curb cravings, liven up any dish and increase post-meal satisfaction levels. Check out my healthy cooking videos on my youtube channel for creative suggestions.
Get your greens on. There is always a healthy basic side dish at Thanksgiving whether it is steamed green beans or roasted Brussels sprouts. Just made sure it is not soaked in butter or excessive oils. Do not be shy to ask how food is prepared. You should be proud you care about your health.
What about dessert? Easy breezy! The crust in the pumpkin pie is the killer. If you are unable to bring a healthy dessert like my warm pumpkin cranberry parfait then simply indulge in a balanced way. Guess what? If you did fill up on protein you will 100% not crave the same amount of dessert you do normally. Take time to visit, play card games or watch a movie with the family. Always have an activity besides just eating dessert. Have the inside of the pumpkin pie, skip the crust and whipped cream toppings. I am also a huge dark chocolate fan. Be the healthy relative and bring some dark chocolate to the meal. Post dinner have a square or two.
Have a plan for the day: what you are going to indulge in, what you are going to pass on and how you are going to get your sweat on. Everyone is different so it is really important to understand what your weakness is and be aware of it. If it is eating too much stuffing to avoid talking to that relative who you have nothing in common with or having one two many helpings of marshmallow yams. Simply keep yourself in-check and focus on the bigger picture of why you are together in the first place. Happy Thanksgiving!