Thanksgiving has come upon us quickly! Next week, many of us will gather with families to eat decadent food—and too much of it at that. For most people, Thanksgiving isn’t just one day. It’s a four-day weekend filled with big meals, sugar, and too little exercise.
One of the things we hear quite often from our customers and from fitness experts is that people indulge a bit too much around the time of Thanksgiving and then end up regretting it. Whether they put on a couple pounds, eat too many cookies or too much pie, or stay sedentary for too long, the days around Thanksgiving can knock a person off track from their fitness and health routine.
Being off track then has a snowball effect. The more you stay away from the gym, the harder it is to go back. The more sweets you eat, the easier it becomes. We begin putting off to tomorrow getting back to our healthy routine. And then tomorrow gets further and further away. Soon, we’re feeling bad about ourselves and we have dug a hole so deep that it’s too hard to get out.
We don’t want that to happen this Thanksgiving! So we have eight suggestions to help you have a healthy and holiday, where you can still indulge—just not quite as much.
- Drink water before meals.
Water serves as an appetite suppressant. Studies have found that drinking 16 ounces of water about thirty minutes before you eat will help you feel less hungry, and you will tend to not eat as much.
- Eat in moderation.
Loading up your plate with all of Grandma’s or Mom’s goodies seems like a good idea—until you’ve eaten it all. Then you feel bloated and heavy and end up regretting your decision. Take smaller portions of the things you like. Choose the foods you only get once a year and save for another day the high-carb and high-calorie foods that you can get any time of the year.
- Replace breakfast or lunch with a protein smoothie.
Performance Inspired has some great recipes for smoothies. This post provides five recipes for smoothies made with PI’s protein powder. From the Elvis, which uses vanilla protein powder and peanut butter, to a Mexican Mocha, which calls for chocolate protein powder and cinnamon, to Island Dreams, which combines vanilla protein powder with frozen mango and pineapple, these healthy meal replacements will fill your stomach with good food that you can feel good about.
- Exercise with family.
It’s normal to want to sit and chat with family you haven’t seen in a while, but there’s no rule that says you have to actually sit. Take a brisk walk, grab a ball and go play catch, or hop on bikes and go for a bike ride.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
Don’t forget that alcohol has calories, especially sugary drinks like margaritas or hard lemonades. If you choose to drink, alternate a drink with a glass of water. This will decrease your calorie intake, keep you well hydrated, and reduce your chances of becoming intoxicated.
- Choose snacks wisely.
Chances are, there will be tables full of crackers, chips, cookies, cakes, veggies, and other treats. It’s so easy to repeatedly fill up a plate with these goodies, and before you know it, you’ve eaten half a bag of chips. If you have the option for fruits and vegetables, choose mostly those. Veggies like celery and carrot sticks (no dressing!) will give you the crunch you want and will help you feel satiated without giving you that lethargic feeling after eating too much.
- Get adequate sleep.
Sleepfoundation.org reports that “lack of sleep may increase calorie consumption.” An article that looked at the effects of sleep on eating habits found that “lack of sleep can create an imbalance in the body that increases ghrelin levels and lowers leptin levels [hormones that regulate energy and boost appetite]. This can cause you to feel hungrier during the day. This imbalance caused by sleep deprivation may lead to a higher calorie intake during the day.” So if you go to bed late, allow yourself to sleep in a bit. It will not only help your appetite but your mood as well.
- Remember your mom’s advice about germs.
It’s cold and flu season, and COVID is going around again. Be considerate of others and their health. If you’re sick, stay home. Wash your hands before handling food. Cover your mouth if you cough.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year. We want you to have great memories, to have fun, and to stay healthy and safe. Practicing these healthy habits will ensure that this is a Thanksgiving to remember—for good reasons!