Five Ways to have a Healthy and Fun Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  Being a food lover, I'm happy to have a holiday that has really no other purpose than to gather people together around great food. That said, Thanksgiving can also kick off a period of time before Jan 1 of any given year where healthy actions and choices go out the window, making your new year a little more sluggish and your pants a little tighter.  No fun!

I never want to feel deprived at a holiday gathering (that usually leads to some post-gathering binge that doesn't serve me) so I like to set myself up for success in order to have fun but not regret any of my actions.  Here are my tips:

1.  Eat before Thanksgiving dinner. Don't be shy either.  Have a proper meal that has plenty of filling fibrous veggies, good fat and some protein.  A hearty stew or chili with lots of veggies would be great to serve this purpose.  When you arrive to your gathering, skip the pre-game (appetizers) and wait until the real meal is served.

2.  Squeeze in a workout on Thanksgiving morning.  Often times, the way we start our day is the way we end it.  Meaning if you start with a giant cinnamon roll and egg nog, it's going to be way easier to make those kinds of choices later in the day.  If you do something really good for yourself (like a yoga class, brisk walk or a bike ride), you are more likely to make food choices that support your long term goals of health.

3.  Choose only one "non-nourishing" food item.  Do you love mom's pumpkin pie?  Or maybe you are a sucker for mashed potatoes?  Whatever "your thing" is, enjoy a full serving of it and fill the rest of your plate with green veggies, salad, turkey (if you eat meat), sweet potatoes (as long as they are plain or just with butter).  If you "sample" all of the foods, you will end up feeling too full and probably exhausted.  Pick your fave, enjoy it and move on.

4.  Create an "I'm done" signal.  One of the issues with a full day focused on food is that often there is no end to meal time.  We just simply keep grazing like little goats until it's time for us to leave Aunt Shirley's house.  Give yourself a clue that you have completed eating and let your body digest your food.  This can be a cup of decaf coffee (no sweetener), herbal tea, piece of gum, teeth brushing.  Whatever it is, say to yourself "I am satiated and do not desire any more food right now".

5.  Offer to bring a healthy option.  If your family doesn't serve a bunch of veggies or healthy options, offer to bring a great veggie dish to share.  Roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic are always crowd pleasers as is this squash recipe that has become one of my absolute go-tos all fall and winter.

And at the end of the day, if you eat 3 pieces of pie, drink 6 nogs and put away an entire dish of mashed taters yourself, make sure that on Friday you forgive yourself and commit to a day of nourishing and light foods.  Move on and start fresh.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!