Thanksgiving marks the first feast of the many you’ll eventually have during a typical holiday season. While Thanksgiving is a time to eat good food, celebrate family and cultural traditions, and enjoy being around loved ones, it can be those things without completely derailing the diet you’ve been crushing lately. Because, the holidays don’t have to be a 6 week hiatus from all healthy habits. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track AND enjoy delicious, tasty foods this holiday season.
Tip 1: Designate Your “Cheat Days”
You remember when I wrote about cheat days right? Well, if you don’t have time to read it, let me sum it up for you: cheat days have beneficial effects on hormone levels and mood that can help you in the weight loss or maintenance process – if done right. So pick a few cheat days. Maybe, say 6 over the next 6 weeks. For example, mine will probably be
This way, you have set days to enjoy holiday goodies, and the rest of the time you stick to a healthy diet of plenty of fruits and veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats, and a little dairy.
Tip 2: Cheat Right
According to the research, the best cheat day meals (to have those beneficial effects on hormones) are high in protein and carbs, and lower in fat. Keep this in mind as you eye the spread this Thursday. That means plenty of turkey, potatoes, a dinner roll, and cranberries. Go easy on the butter and heavy casseroles.
Tip 3: Keep the Veggies at the Party
I know, I know, I just said this should be your cheat day. But “cheat day” doesn’t mean “eat nothing healthy all day”, it just means there’s wiggle room. So make sure you get some veggies on feasting holidays by either eating some throughout the day (spinach in a smoothie at breakfast, raw veggies and guacamole for a snack), or include them in the meal in the form of a side salad or some green beans with toasted almonds. Not only do veggies (and fruits) have important vitamins and minerals, they also have fiber, which will help you digest all that turkey later in the day.
Tip 4: Spread it Around
My favorite thing about Thanksgiving (and Christmas) dinner is….
LEFTOVERS! What this means is, you don’t have to eat everything on the table Thanksgiving day. Didn’t make it to the sweet potato casserole? No worries, have a small taste the next day with eggs to fuel your Black Friday adventures. In the photo to the right, you can see an example of this – I paired my sweet potato casserole from a recent Friends-giving with a lean, grilled hamburger over salad.
Tip 5: Don’t Stop Moving!
This one is important for a few reasons. While I always like to say “you can’t out train a bad diet”, exercise is still really important, especially this time of year. Not only does exercise burn calories, some research has shown that morning exercise may reduce your appetite throughout the rest of the day. So get a morning workout in on Thanksgiving day (maybe a run, a bike ride, or some burpees…) before the Thanksgiving day parade, dog show, and eating begin.