In case you missed it a couple of weeks ago, holiday season weight gain is a real problem for many people, and often the big Thanksgiving Day meal with multiple plates of food is where things start to go awry. There are appetizers, sides, desserts, and then more desserts. It is the one day when everyone eats a big meal and then usually follows that up with another big meal consisting primarily of pie.
So naturally, it can be tough to practice moderation, and healthy eating habits on Thanksgiving can be tough. But does that mean that tomorrow is the day you throw your hands up and resign yourself to poor eating habits that will lead to some holiday weight gain through the end of the year?
It doesn’t have to be. So here are some practical tips to follow so you can enjoy the big meal without skipping a beat towards a strong and healthy finish to the year.
For starters, make sure you are adequately hydrated on Thanksgiving Day. As we get caught up in all the excitement of cooking for the big day and potentially traveling to wherever dinner is taking place, it can be easy to forget to drink enough water. Getting to the appetizer table and digging into the charcuterie board dehydrated is the perfect recipe for overeating before dinner is even served.
Once Thanksgiving dinner is served, fill up your plate with protein first and then go for the sides. If you are having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, turkey is the star of the show and a great source of satiating high-quality protein that will fill you up faster and make it less likely that you will overeat too much of the carb-heavy sides. Whether you are having Turkey or not, prioritize protein first and then taste a little of all the rest.
Oh, and don’t skimp on the cranberry sauce — it’s is a crowd favorite, and basically a superfood.
And then we have dessert! The part of the meal where everyone’s plan to approach the big meal with moderation goes out the window, and all bets are off. Unfortunately, our brains are wired in a way that allows us to eat more when exposed to a different flavor profile.
Thanksgiving plates become Thanksgiving weight gain when we make dessert a ‘second meal’
This is why “there is always room for dessert.” You might be too stuffed for more turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the savory foods available for dinner, but once the pies come out, your hunger hormones kick in as if you haven’t yet eaten a thing.
At some point in human history, our hunger queues evolved this way to help us survive, but nowadays, this is primarily a disservice. The best thing to do is to be aware of this mechanism and approach appetizers and dinner with some moderation so that you leave some room to enjoy dessert.
And now, for the most critical part, the post-meal walk. Yes, there will be football on TV. Yes, it will feel great to just plop down on the couch after eating, but even just a ten-minute walk after a big meal can be your most powerful tool for regulating the blood sugar spike after all those carbs.
People focus so much on the Turkey Trot or the big workout the morning of Thanksgiving, but the real bang for your buck is making sure you move your body around a little after the last slice of pie!
The key takeaway? From everyone at the Daily Tonic, we wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Whether you listen to our advice or not, enjoy the meal, the pie, and the company, and just remember that no matter how well (or not) you navigate the big meal, it is just one meal.
No amount of pie or cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving day will derail your health if you get right back to your routine once the special day is over! It’s when you let one day of overindulging turn into a weekend and turn into a month that you start getting into trouble.
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