10 Tips for a Healthy Turkey Day
Can you believe it’s already a week from Thanksgiving?!
It seems like just yesterday it was last November and I was stressing out about finding a wedding venue, taking the GRE, and finding a place to live. Now here we are again, and I’m married, in grad school, and landscaping my yard like a real grown-up.
It’s scary crazy how fast time flies.
Anyway, it just goes to show that life never really slows down. As soon as you’re over one hurdle, another is waiting in your path. That’s just life.
What does this have to do with Thanksgiving you ask?
Well, I feel like holidays — especially those centered around food — drive people to drown their worries and stress in a heaping plate of heart attack-inducing food.
Ok, that sounded a lot more dismal than I meant it to. Holidays are amazing and I am totally one of those people that is surging with seasonal spirit all winter long, but they can also be a destructive time health-wise if you’re not careful.
With a little planning and thoughtful choices though, you can navigate the holiday season — specifically Thanksgiving — with presence and purpose and maintain the well-balanced healthy living plan you’re accustomed to all year long.
Want to know how? Here are my 10 tips for a healthy Thanksgiving!
1. Get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is so under-rated and yet so important. Studies show that when you’re tired, you suffer hormonal imbalances that may lead you to eat more. So make sure to get your full 7-9 hours the night before Thanksgiving to keep your willpower intact for the big day.
2. Start the day with a sweat sesh.
Plan on waking up early and getting your body moving on Thanksgiving. We all know the rest of the day will likely be spent sitting and visiting with relatives and stuffing your face. Get your action in early so you can enjoy the festivities.
Many cities have 5K “Turkey Trots” with the option to run/walk. You can also get a quick sweat in at home with one of my easy, on-the-go workouts, like this 7-Minute Leg + Butt Circuit. Or, start the family bonding bright and early with a group hike!
3. Eat a balanced breakfast.
Today more than ever, you need to eat a balanced breakfast to provide your body with energy and prevent binging later. If you go into the big feast with an empty stomach you’re 1000 times more likely to overindulge — that’s a scientific fact (ok not really, but I’ll bet it’s close to 1000).
I’d recommend these Banana Belgium Waffles.
They’re easy, healthy, and the whole fam will love them.
4. Get your greens in early.
With all the savory meats, hearty grains, potatoes, and desserts, it’s not often you see a lot of greenery on the Thanksgiving table. Slimy canned beans, pretty much devoid of nutritional value and topped with fried onions, do not count.
I like to eat a green salad for lunch or down one of Naked‘s nutrient-packed juices like Kale Blazer to make sure I get the goods in before the indulging begins. This particular juice is packed with kale, spinach, ginger, oranges and apples and provides 35% of your daily dose of vitamin C!
5. Bring a healthy dish.
If you’re cooking the whole meal yourself: 1. Eek! Good luck. 2. You can totally manipulate the menu to your health preferences.
If you’re not, make sure you bring at least one dish that you love and that is nutritionally sound. That way, if your relatives are serving up a bunch of crap, you’ll have at least one healthy thing to fill up on.
This year I’m making my classic Sweet + Savory Roasted Vegetables. I could (and probably will) eat a truckload of these.
Also, when in doubt – focus on the bird! Lean turkey meat is always a solid option.
6. Watch the wine.
It’s easy to over-imbibe when you’re having a good time. It’s also easy to tip a few too many back when your grandma is asking you for the 100th time why you don’t have any children yet, and reminding you that you’re not getting any younger.
Try to teetotal today people. Studies show that alcohol, even when moderately consumed, leads to overeating.
7. Institute the “pick one rule” for treats.
For some people, it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a piece of pumpkin pie — that’s totally ok! Pick one dessert that you absolutely love and have one serving.
I know, everything looks good, but if you make a prior decision to just pick one, you’re more likely to stay on track than if you go in with the mindset that you’ll just have “a couple bites of a couple of things.” Believe me, it never ends up being just “a couple.”
If you can manage to skip the whipped cream and ice cream on top, even better.
8. Stay hydrated.
Just like with a lack of sleep or increased alcohol intake, water too effects your appetite. Dehydration can masquerade as hunger and make you feel like you need to consume more. You should be drinking adequate amounts of water everyday, but especially today.
Also, new studies suggest that a high water intake is associated with a better mood!
9. Lend a hand.
After the meal, don’t just plop down on the couch — offer to help with the cleanup. Not only will it make your host happy, it will keep your hands busy and away from the dessert tray.
10. Walk it off.
In the likely event that you do overeat and feel like a stuffed turkey yourself, go for a walk. Some studies show that light exercise after a meal can help control blood sugar levels.
Weigh In: What are your tips for a healthy turkey day? What’s your favorite healthy Thanksgiving dish? What’s your must-have Thanksgiving indulgence?
*This post is sponsored by Naked but all opinions are my own.