Thanksgiving primarily revolves around enjoying wonderful meals with family, friends, and loved ones. Many of us have a favourite dish that we look forward to each and every year. It could be the sweet potatoes with marshmallows, the turkey swimming in gravy, or the pumpkin pie. Unfortunately one thing is very common, with the excess consumption of these foods, Thanksgiving often leads to gaining unwanted weight. Studies have shown that an average individual will consume 3,000 to 4,500 calories in one single Thanksgiving meal, which amounts to more than double the amount of calories that we generally need in an entire day! Fortunately, as long as you have a strategy in place there is no need to fear this Thanksgiving holiday.
Wise Turkey Choices
Turkey is a great lean protein choice, provided you choose white cuts of meat (breast) and remove the skin. The fat is found in the skin and fatty deposits in dark meat (e.g. leg/thighs/wings). In making this choice, your turkey is now a much leaner and healthier addition to your Thanksgiving meal.
Eat Regularly During the Day
Be sure to have regular meals and snacks, as you would on any other day. It is important to avoid sitting down at the dinner table feeling ravenous. Depriving yourself all day can result in overeating at the meal, leading to you consuming more calories than expected and experiencing a very upset stomach!
Caution with Alcohol
Alcohol intake can hurt your waistline in two ways. Not only do calories in alcohol quickly add up, but alcohol can lower your inhibitions, causing you to overeat.
Watch out for the extras
A turkey dinner can be a healthy choice, but the extras offered prior to or during the meal can change that. Extras can include the gravy, the warm bread rolls smothered in butter, or the sugary cranberry sauce. To ensure you enjoy your meal in a healthy way, pick one extra that you feel would accompany your meal best and allot it accordingly.
Enjoy the gathering
Make the gathering more focused around spending time with one another rather than eating. Instead of worrying when dessert will be ready, enjoy the company you are with. Find fun things to do together that do not focus primarily on eating such as playing a board game or going for a walk together.
Fill your plate with vegetables first
Aim to fill half your plate full of fresh vegetables before filling the rest with turkey and other dishes. Filling up on vegetables is not only a great way of getting extra fibre and vitamins, but also helps you feel full and avoid unhealthier choices. Season vegetables with herbs and spices instead of butter or salt!
Offer to bring a dish
If you are not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, offer to bring a healthy dish. Bringing a Herbal Magic program-friendly dish will guarantee that you have at least one food option that will keep you on track. Check out our line of Recipe Books for some great ideas.
Be mindful of second helpings
Savour the meal you have just put on your plate and eat slowly. Putting your utensils down between bites will force you to eat more slowly, making you less inclined to go back for seconds. If you are still hungry, wait 20 minutes before reaching for a second helping to allow your body enough time to register that it is satisfied.
Politely say “No”
At some point you will be encouraged to try a new dish or flavour of dessert. It might be difficult to say no, but be firm in your request. Perhaps explain to guests that you wish to eat healthier this holiday and that certain food items will have to be tasted at another time.
Pick up on your body cues
Listen to your body cues and stop eating when you begin to feel full but still have room for more. This will allow your body to feel satisfied without overeating.
Get in some physical activity
Part of your planning should be to include exercise the day of your Thanksgiving meal. Being active will allow you to burn some extra calories.
Have a cup of herbal tea
Whether you have it alongside your dessert or after your meal to wind down, sip on a warm tea to help with digestion and keep you feeling satisfied.