If you’re getting ready to dig into one of the 46 million turkeys Americans consume each Thanksgiving holiday, chances are you haven’t been thinking about what it might mean for your waistline. Many people use Thanksgiving as an excuse to fill their plates and fall asleep in front of the TV, but it’s not as if all those extra calories aren’t going to add up simply because it’s a holiday. For those who are trying to stick to a healthy eating regimen, the holiday can even bring along a sense of anxiety that can put a damper on the festivities.
Want to avoid throwing your diet down the drain this Thanksgiving? Here are a few “dos” and “don’ts” to keep in mind as you line up to fill your plate.
DO: Start the Day With Some Physical Activity
No matter how much willpower and restraint you bring to the table on Thanksgiving, chances are you’re still going to take down more calories than you’re used to eating in a single sitting. One of the best ways to offset Thanksgiving caloric overload is by kicking the day off with some exercise. You’ll not only feel a bit better about eating more than usual, but your body will thank you for adding balance to the holiday—it’s the reason why so many people run “turkey trots” on Thanksgiving morning!
DON’T: Fast Until the Big Dinner
A lot of people assume that they should consider fasting all day due to the fact that they’ll be eating a relatively large dinner—not a good idea. The notion that avoiding food during the day helps you “make room” for a larger meal at night is false. On the contrary, you’ll be much more likely to overeat if you wait all day for your first bite of food, which can result in bloating and heartburn. Say “yes” to breakfast if you want to fully enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.
DO: Catch Up With Family and Friends
Thanksgiving is all about spending time with friends and family, both distant and immediate. One of the best ways to pace yourself when the first bites of food start to come out is to keep things conversational. By chatting and catching up with friends and family members as you nibble on appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, you’ll avoid chowing down on an entire meal’s worth of food before the main course comes out.
DON’T: Stress Eat
The holidays can bring about quite a bit of stress, whether it be work-related or personal in nature. As tempting as it can be to drown things out with copious amounts of mashed potatoes and gravy, stress eating will do nothing but throw your cortisol levels out of whack and cause potential rebound anxiety as a result. Overloading your plate isn’t just a bad idea—it’s a recipe for a stomach ache.
DO: Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol and Thanksgiving can sometimes go hand-in-hand, as we celebrate the coming together of family. Overdo it, however, and you may end up with a hangover you wouldn’t even wish upon that annoying uncle who insists on arguing politics. Keep your limits in consideration as the evening progresses, and don’t ever get behind the wheel of a car if you’ve been drinking.
DON’T: Overlook Balance on the Plate
While many people believe that the tryptophan found in Turkey is responsible for that sleepy feeling following Thanksgiving dinner, it’s more likely a result of a massive carbohydrate intake. Between stuffing, potatoes, root vegetables and butter rolls, Thanksgiving dinner can be “carb-loading” to the max—the average American consumes a whopping 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving night! Fill your plate with greens, instead, balancing it out with turkey and carb-heavy sides for a delicious, not-so-heavy meal.
Most importantly, have fun this Thanksgiving!