Healthy food and Thanksgiving don’t usually go hand-in-hand. Thanksgiving is the gateway to two months of excess. Followed by four months of desperately trying to rein it all back in. When it comes to keeping those extra pounds at bay, preparation is your best defense. First the good news: contrary to popular belief, most of us only gain a pound or two during the holidays. The bad news for most of us is that those extra pounds are here to stay. Rather than gaining 10 pounds all at once, the weight slowly creeps up and from your 30s to your 40s, you’ve put on ten or twenty pounds. And so on, and so on.
The best pre-Thanksgiving prep you can do is to start upping your healthy food and exercise routine stat. Then collect lots of healthy holiday recipes. Recent research shows that just upping your exercise may not make much of a difference. Perhaps that’s because, according to the Calorie Control Council, “The average holiday dinner alone can carry a load of 3,000 calories. And many nibble through another 1,500 calories, downing appetizers and drinks before and after the big meal. Combined, that’s the equivalent of more than 2 1/4 times the average daily calorie intake and almost 3 1/2 times the fat — with 45 percent of calories from fat. The average person may consume enough fat at a holiday meal to equal three sticks of butter.” It would take a lot of workouts to compensate for that during a super busy holiday season. And that’s just the first big meal of the seasons!
Besides emphasizing healthy food, there are a few other tricks for maintaining your waistline through the new year. Fasting before the big dinner will probably just make the urge to gorge harder to fight. Instead, eat a healthy, filling meal before appetizers and dinner. You’ll have less room for the really bad (but so, so good) stuff. Sneak in a morning workout on Thanksgiving Day and the day after, plus a post-meal stroll just to keep your momentum going. Start with small portions of your favorites — you can always go back for seconds (But not thirds!) and don’t start mindlessly eating whatever’s put in front of you. Make all those extra calories really count because they came from enjoying foods you love.
Lastly, look for healthy holiday recipes to fill in where ever you can. Mashed potatoes are a favorite Thanksgiving side and it’s simple to make them totally healthy. Potatoes aren’t the carbo load we thought they were — they’re the good starch and they’re low-cal. Leave in the nutrient-rich skins and serve the butter on the side. For a really low-carb option, Rosemary & Garlic Mashed Cauliflower is divine. Or try Mashed Sweet Potatoes — no marshmallows! Serve Brussels Sprouts Gratin or Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Squash with Dried Cranberries and Dijon Vinaigrette for the full range of fall flavors in a nutritious package. Stuffing can totally be healthy too! Try Bulgur Stuffing with Dried Cranberries & Hazelnut for whole grain goodness.