10 Tips for a Happy & Healthy Thanksgiving
1.Eat throughout the day.
The worst thing you can do before a big meal like Thanksgiving is to starve yourself all day “to save room” or so you can “eat more.” What starving yourself all day actually does is slow your metabolism down. This is exactly what you don’t want before a big meal. When your metabolism slows down it slows down the rate at which your body will use calories for energy and increases their storage as fat. So make sure you eat before you take a seat at the Thanksgiving table. Scroll down to tip #3 to see what foods you should be filling up on throughout the day!
2. Move, before and after.
Plan an active activity for Thanksgiving morning. Moving before will help rev up your metabolism, helping you burn more calories for energy throughout the day. But don’t stop moving there, being active after you eat helps lower your blood sugars, which helps to prevent weight gain and weight retention. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, it can be as simple as going for a walk around the neighborhood. Some of my favorite Thanksgiving morning activities include family paddle tennis, beach walk, and hiking!
3. Fill up on foods that will keep you full and satisfied.
Throughout the day focus on protein, fiber and healthy fats to keep you full and satisfied. Fiber helps fill you up in the moment, protein helps you stay fuller longer, and healthy fats work with your satiety hormones to let you know when you’re full. When it comes to increasing your fiber, think fiber from vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.) rather than starchy grains. For your meals before Thanksgiving dinner aim to make your plate be about 25% protein and 75% non-starchy vegetables. Now, we know we’re not turning down all of those delicious starches (i.e. carbs) later on the Thanksgiving table so at dinner aim for your plate to be about 25% protein, 60% vegetables, and 15% starches (stuffing, corn, potatoes, bread, pie, etc.). Some of my favorite Thanksgiving day breakfasts include 2 pasture-raised over-easy eggs on a bed of roasted Brussels sprouts or sautéed curly kale with a side of avocado. If you’re more into a smoothie try my Mint Choco Chip Smoothie for a good low carb option!
4. Add more veggies to the menu.
We know from tip #3 that the fiber in vegetables will help keep you full, so do yourself and your guests a favor and provide more veggie options. One of the easiest and most visually appealing ways to incorporate this tip is to roast all different kinds of vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips, etc.) on a sheet trays. Now I know oven space is a hot commodity on Thanksgiving, but you can put them in once the turkey is out or roast them 75% of the way through the day before and then pop them in to finish cooking right before you’re ready to sit down! Or if you don’t have a soup course yet try my easy vegan Coconut Carrot Curry Soup, a deliciously warm way to get in some non-starchy vegetables with coconut milk to help keep your appetite in check.
5. Don’t deprive yourself, but only eat what you love.
Don’t deprive yourself of something on the table that you look forward to every year, but in the same token only go for what you really love. So if you think stuffing is “just okay” leave it be and make more room for what you can’t take your eyes off of. If your favorites tend to be starch heavy (i.e. stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, pie etc.) then just take a small scoop of each so you can have all of them without feeling like you overdid it the next day.
6. Put your fork down & enjoy the company you’re with.
One of the best strategies to eat slower and enjoy the company your with is to try to consciously put your fork down after each bite. Then don’t pick it back up until you’re done chewing and swallowing. This will allow you to be more present in the moment, more mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth, and help prevent you from overeating past fullness, which has been shown to promote weight loss.
7. Sip slowly.
Usually with the holidays comes extra booze drinking, which can also mean extra carbs (sugar), less water and more hangovers. The goal here is to still be social and have your favorite drink by your side, but to aim to sip slower making that drink last a lot longer. Also try to practice the 1:1 drink rule, 1 glass of water for every alcoholic drink to prevent those painful holiday hangovers, keep your cells hydrated, and your skin glowing!
8. Give away the leftovers.
Keep the turkey and veggies for yourself. However be prepared with Tupperware and giveaway all your starchy leftovers. Yes, that includes the pie and dinner rolls! Below are two of my favorite festive leftover containers from World Market to give your guests or bring as a gift!
9. Laugh hard.
Ever heard the phrase “laughter is medicine?” Not only does laughing burn calories and work your abdominals, but it has also been shown to reduce your stress hormones and may help reduce your blood pressure. Studies also show that people who laugh more experience increased emotional well-being and life satisfaction. And yes, every smile/laugh wrinkle is totally worth it!
10. Give thanks and show gratitude.
Showing gratitude has become the new trend, and this a trend I am in full support of. Showing gratitude towards the people you love and the environment your in has been shown to increase happiness and promote better sleep patterns, while reducing depressive symptoms and stress. Take the time to look around the table and say one thing to yourself that you are grateful for about each person present. Better yet, say it to them and ask others to share. Let’s keep this trend going!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!