3 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving

Give thanks and stay healthy.

By Lizzie Meyers

Ah, Thanksgiving: A time to be with family, reflect on what you’re thankful for, and of course, chow down on some delicious home cookin’. Because the holiday only comes once a year, the feast of special dishes on the Thanksgiving table feels nearly impossible to resist. Unfortunately, this table tends to hold a ton of calories and fat.

“I love that bloated, uncomfortable feeling after a second helping,” says no one, ever. This Thanksgiving, avoid the post meal food coma by being aware of your eating habits. While you can still give in to your favorite indulgences, there are plenty of simple tricks to keep you happy and healthy long after the meal is over. Remember, overindulging for even just one day can lead to that dreaded holiday weight gain, so be smart as you gobble up.

1. Don’t Fast Beforehand

The myth: If you starve yourself all day until the Thanksgiving feast, you’ll balance out the calories consumed at dinner and walk away with a clean slate. Wrong! Render this technique, and you’ll be ravenous by the time dinner is ready, upping your inclination to overeat. This also puts your body in starvation mode, which causes your metabolism to slow down and your body to store more food as fat than it typically would.

The takeaway: Make sure to fuel up on a protein-packed breakfast. This way, come dinnertime, you won’t feel the desire to devour everything at once, and you can instead walk happily and healthily away with leftovers. Two (moderately-portioned) Thanksgiving dinners are better than one, don’t you think?

2.  Create a Healthy Plate

The Harvard School of Public Health has devised a guide for what a healthy meal should look like known as the The Healthy Eating Plate. Roughly use these guidelines for your Thanksgiving meal, and you’re guaranteed a better experience. Sure, stuffing may not usually be considered a whole grain, but the idea is to balance your meal. Make sure the lean proteins and green beans take up the majority of your plate. Then, stay satisfied by plating a small portion of other dishes, like stuffing and marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole.

HealthyPlate_9.9.11

3.  Pace Yourself

Did you know that it takes an undivided 20 minutes for your brain to register that you feel full? Because of this, eating too quickly can cause you to keep plowing through, even after your body is ready to quit. Try to savor your Thanksgiving feast by chewing slowly. Savor each bite to the fullest, and consider laying your fork down every three bites. Another trick to pace yourself is to take a sip of water between each bite. Let yourself register whether you’re still hungry or not before downing that fateful second serving

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Keep these tips in mind this year as you survey your savory Thanksgiving spread, and give thanks to the day for bringing a healthier, happier you. 

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