Are you working to lose or maintain your weight but not sure how to make it through the big holiday meals?
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had this week with clients about how to get through Thanksgiving without gaining weight. In fact, one of my clients is even a few days out from her wedding and trying to lose 2 more pounds, so a low-calorie Thanksgiving is crucial!
Don’t fear, though. It’s fairly easy to make it through the holiday feasts without totally derailing your fitness goals. Here are my top, tried-and-true tips to stay healthy while still enjoying a good meal with family and friends:
- Make a Pre-Dinner Plan
Know what you’re going to eat ahead of time and what you need to avoid. That way, when you face temptation, you can more easily say ‘no’ instead of looking back and wondering how you ate so much. For instance, skip cheesy dips, avoid dinner rolls, and skip pie.
Since dinner usually falls around 3-5pm, plan to keep the earlier part of your day simple and clean, such as:
- Breakfast: Egg and veggie scramble or a protein shake with fruit – something filled with protein and fiber to keep you full with low calories.
- Snack: Almonds, cucumber and hummus, rice cakes and peanut butter, or a protein shake
- Afternoon: Make sure you’re not very hungry when you leave for dinner. Most likely you’ll have time to spare before dinner is actually ready, so you don’t want to be starving and end up eating the snacks lying around. Skip the little unhealthy appetizers and wait for the actual meal to eat again.
Don’t skip meals earlier in the day. It will only make you more likely to binge at dinner. If you’re the host, follow the same guidelines, keep junk out of your house, and provide healthy snacks for both you and your guests.
2. Bring a Healthy Dish
If you’re hosting dinner, then great! You have control over most of the food being served and when, so you can choose healthy snacks and make lots of low-calorie dishes. If you’re the guest, don’t wonder if there will be healthy options and hope for the best. Instead, guarantee at least one healthy option by offering to bring a healthy side dish or dessert. Some great options are:
- Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”
- Roasted vegetables
- Stuffed mushrooms
- Sweet potatoes without added sugar or marshmallows
- Baked apples made with cinnamon and honey or maple syrup (in place of apple pie); top with reduced fat whipped cream
3. What to Eat/Not Eat for Thanksgiving Dinner
- Turkey & Veggies – Fill your plate FIRST with salad (light dressing), veggies (not the green been casserole or creamed corn – stick with raw, roasted or grilled veggies) and turkey. Lots of turkey. The protein and fiber will fill you up before you succumb to the high-calorie options.
- Save the Rest for Last – Now move to other options if you’re still hungry. But use portion control! A two-bite portion of potatoes, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. Just enough to allow you to enjoy the full dinner, but not so much that you can’t move from the table afterward.
- Wine/Alcohol – In an ideal world, you’d skip the booze. But if you’re going to indulge, stick to 1-2 glasses. And remember that most glasses will have around 100-120 calories, so if it’s important to you, plan to skip something else, like a big piece of pumpkin pie.
- Dessert – Pumpkin and apple pie are almost as iconic as turkey when it comes to a proper Thanksgiving feast. If they’re not your thing, then skip it! But if you want to enjoy a little dessert, go for it, but once again, use moderation. I like to get a tiny sliver of both pumpkin and apple so I can taste each and not have to choose, and I’ll usually try to leave some of the crust on my plate. Then skip the whipped cream and ice cream. This way you can satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard.
Take some time in the morning to get in a workout, run or walk before the festivities begin. Not only will it help burn some calories before dinner, but exercise helps to start with a healthy mindset that will often make it less appealing to eat junky food and sweets. You can also try to get a few people to head out for a post-dinner walk to help you digest before you settle into the couch for the evening. The more you stay on your feet, the more calories you’ll burn to offset all of that delicious food!
Hope this helps you to have a healthy and happy holiday! What are your clean-eating Thanksgiving tips? Leave a comment to share with others!