6 Ways to Have a Healthy Thanksgiving

  • Written By:Lauren Slayton
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A little bit of effort and planning can leave you feeling in control for Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season.

If Thanksgiving were in the spring it wouldn’t be such a problem. I know that sentence sounds a little grinch-like, so I should clarify. Giving thanks and having gratitude are things I wholeheartedly support. And family time (depending on your family) can be relaxing. But from a wellness perspective, Thanksgiving is a challenge. Once Thanksgiving rolls around, it’s getting dark earlier and it’s far too easy to say, “I’ll think about all of this in January.”

But a little bit of effort and planning can leave you feeling in control for Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season. Here are my top Thanksgiving tips, but really, most are useful for any super social or holiday week.

A-Game Days

One typical Thanksgiving scenario is that you overdo it on Thanksgiving, feel lousy and then attempt to overcorrect by being super strict. If this sounds familiar, you know it doesn’t work too well. Super loose and then super strict keep you bouncing back and forth and neither mode feels all that good.

Instead, pick two days the week before Thanksgiving. (I suggest Monday and Tuesday, but you pick your days.) On these “a-game days,” focus on the best version of your eating. Maybe this means keeping carbs low or even skipping them. A-game days should have water drinking, veggie eating, and rest — seven or more hours of sleep a night. Instead of feeling guilty or being hard on yourself about holiday eating, you’ve sort of made room for a little extra, in advance. Be thankful for feeling zero guilt on Thanksgiving.

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Fullness Foods

Another holiday or special event mistake I see is to “save up.” That “I know I’ll be eating a big meal later so I’ll skip breakfast and maybe lunch” mindset. Although I’m a fan of the a-game days, we all know that under-eating or “saving up” leads to overeating later. I have a better idea. There are five foods I call “Fullness Foods”:

  • Chia seeds
  • Healthy oils, like olive oil and MCT oil
  • Water (yes, technically not a food)
  • Top shelf vegetables (high fiber cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus)

Try to incorporate as many of these foods into your diet the day before and on Thanksgiving.

A holiday without a treat can seem sad, but saying yes to every carb, cocktail and sweet isn’t a winning plan either.

Treasured treats

One of the things we talk about with Foodtrainers’ clients is making treats worth it. When you have your favorite food or something your mother made, it feels so much better than a handful of popcorn from the office tub. As you head into Thanksgiving pick one or two treasured treats. I’m a stuffing lover, but if stuffing isn’t your thing, splurge on pie or sweet potato casserole or whatever “does it” for you. And if it’s not treasured, try to skip it.

A holiday without a treat can seem sad, but saying yes to every carb, cocktail and sweet isn’t a winning plan either. Decide, in advance, what you’ll indulge in and enjoy it thoroughly. Interestingly, some food behavior research has shown that visualizing a treat results in consuming less. Perhaps guilt is reduced or you’re more mindful when you don’t feel you’re rebelling?

Just Say No

We all know those food pushers — the moms who load up your plate, send you home with leftovers, and make you try every version of mashed potatoes. Reminder you don’t have to eat everything! If you’re refusing, throw in a compliment to soften the blow. Blame it on all the holiday events.

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Secret Weapons

We all have our secret weapons. Pre-event, try some apple cider vinegar in water and load up on fiber and protein. Nuts are a good place to start and add in some crudités. Hot ginger tea will also reduce feelings of hunger.

For keeping your mood stable, try adding turmeric, vitamin D or CBD to your routine. Vitamin D will help you out the entire holiday season, since it’s the time of year when it really starts to dip.

Don’t Drink on Empty

Alcohol can add up quickly at all the parties and events. When it comes to drinks, we have a 1:1 rule at Foodtrainers. One glass of water for every drink. Start with water first, because you don’t want to drink on empty. Name your drink number for the week ahead of time and stick to it and make sure to add a few alcohol free days into the mix.

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