If you're on the road to fitness, though, a holiday like Thanksgiving can seem like a complete diversion in the plan. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE. The key is having a game plan ahead of time to tackle this Day of Eating. Here are a few tips to get your plan off the ground:
- Get a workout in first thing in the morning on Thanksgiving -- no excuses. If you're staying put in your own town, you hopefully have a gym you can go to or you have a space in your own home. If you're visiting someone in a different town, check out GymTicket.com. The site searches for gyms near you that give out complimentary guest passes.
- Don't know what kind of workout to do? Check out my "Do It Anywhere" workout from July 4th here!
- If you're cooking (or helping out with the cooking), refrain from mindless tasting. Of course any chef (or chef's helper) knows you need to taste the dish as it's being made to make sure it's well-seasoned. LIMIT THE TASTINGS AND MAKE THEM SMALL! Mindless munching while preparing food can add up to hundreds of calories that you don't need to take in on top of the meal.
- Have a sensible breakfast filled with lots of fiber and a little protein. Steel cut oatmeal is a fantastic option and is especially yummy with a little fruit like fresh berries or a sliced banana. No added sugar needed! Add one hard-boiled egg and you've got a well-rounded breakfast that will fill you up. Have a light snack 2.5 to 3 hours later (like an apple or some hummus with celery). If Thanksgiving is being served around lunch-time, you're good to go. If Thanksgiving is being served at dinner-time, have some lunch 2.5 to 3 hours after your snack! A salad with canned tuna and extra veggies is perfect and light. Use a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic and you're good to go. I know this might sound counter-intuitive but trust me: your body doesn't want to go into starvation mode (thereby slowing down your metabolism, hanging onto every last calorie you take in during the Thanksgiving meal) and you don't want to head into the feast without having eaten all day, tearing into that stuffing and pie with a vengeance.
- If you or your guest is serving up munchy snacks before sitting down for the meal, eat at your own risk. I know I said you don't want to head into the Big Meal famished but you don't want to go into it stuffed either. That only leads to overeating and a terrible stomach ache later. Want that pig in a blanket? Ok. Have one. Want those chips? Take a napkin, load 5 chips on it and walk away from the bowl. Eat one chip at a time, don't mindlessly stuff your mouth with all of them at once.
- So now you're sitting at the Thanksgiving table. Ahhhh. This is where I start to not sound like a trainer: don't be overly concerned with how many sticks of butter are in the mashed potatoes or how many calories are in the slice of pecan pie. Eat the Thanksgiving food you love and ENJOY IT! By that I mean:
- Eat S-L-O-W-L-Y. Take your time chewing and enjoying the taste of your food. Put your utensils down between bites. Remember that your body needs 20 minutes to decide if it's satisfied or not so make sure it takes you 20 minutes to eat the food on your plate. Thanksgiving happens once a year so don't scarf down the food in 5 minutes.
- Once you're done with your first round, really ask yourself if you want seconds. If the answer is yes, great! Just BE MINDFUL (I use that word a lot for a reason). Scoop up smaller portions than your first round. Eat even more slowly. Don't be afraid to leave uneaten food on your plate.
- Oh! Almost forgot about the beverage situation! Drink lots of water! This is my favorite refrain but water will help keep you satiated throughout the day and night. If you plan on drinking during the festivities, drink one tall glass of water per alcoholic beverage. (Also, be responsible with the drinking, please, ESPECIALLY if you have to drive home.)