Thanksgiving. A day for being thankful, enjoying friends and family, and for most, overindulging.  So, how can you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast without feeling like you’ve undone all your hard work? Here are some of my top tips for any fun food event to help keep you from overdoing it, but still have a great time and enjoying some wonderful, special food.

1) Don’t Skip Breakfast!

So many times people skip breakfast/lunch, etc. to “save room” for a later indulgence. The logic is something like “well, if I don’t eat breakfast, I can eat more at this party!”.  Here’s the thing, when you do that, not only do you through off your body’s metabolism and rhythm, you also actually ENCOURAGE overindulging! You’ll be so hungry by the time you finally get to eat, you’ll almost certainly go overboard. Eat a nutritious breakfast and snack (if your event is in the afternoon). It maybe doesn’t have to be as big as usual, but make sure it’s full of protein, healthy fats, and some good carbs. This also gives you a chance to at least make sure one of the meals you eat that day will be healthy!

2) Get Active

Holidays are a great time to workout and be active, not take a break. Typically, you’re fitting in a workout before or after work, scrambling to get in a shower and get on to the next task for the day. On a holiday, there’s no rush! Take advantage and enjoy a workout and hot shower without the added time constraints. Take a hike with the family and enjoy the crisp fall air. Play some pre-feast football to build up an appetite. Whatever it is, don’t use holidays as an excuse to be inactive.

3) Bring a Healthier Option

Part of the struggle at holiday parties is that many of the options are all relatively poor ones. Offer to bring something you KNOW you can eat a lot of and still feel good about it. Sauteed green beans with almond slivers and a drizzle of balsamic instead of the heavy green bean casserole. A fresh “salad” of diced green apples, oranges, and fresh cranberries instead of traditional canned cranberry sauce. A pumpkin pie made with honey and molasses to sweeten instead of an over-the-top pecan pie. All will fit seamlessly into your Thanksgiving table and provide a reliable option for piling up your plate when you want seconds (or thirds!).

4) Lead the Way!

An after feast walk is a great way to help get the digestive process going, reduce spikes in blood sugar, and even start burning off any extra indulging you might have done. Invite family and friends out for a walk, perhaps with a nice hot mug of tea in hand. Enjoy the outdoors, the holiday season, take a look at the decorative lights around your home.

5) Send a Parting Gift

Most of us celebrate Thanksgiving with extended family and friends. If you’re hosting, invite others to bring containers to take home leftovers in. This saves you the trouble of having to store all the remaining food yourself AND will help prevent late night binges on Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge. Sure, keep some for yourself, but reduce the urge to overindulge for days following by removing the temptation.

6) Remember, it’s Just One Day

Ultimately, overindulging one day out of the month or even a week every now and then will not ruin your overall progress or efforts. Don’t take the “Well, I already blew it, so I might as well just keep going” attitude, but don’t feel guilty about it either. You indulged. Hopefully, you enjoyed it! Now, get back on track with the next meal, snack, workout, etc. Moderation in all things, including moderation.

Already finding yourself overindulging a bit too often? Come on in to CoreLife and let us help you get back on track and keep you accountable. Make good, lasting health your early Christmas gift to yourself.

Aubrey Phelps MS RDN