When we think of Thanksgiving, we think of lots and lots of food. Turkey, gravy, yams, mashed potatoes, ham, pumpkin pie and more! Just writing about it makes my stomach full. It’s a holiday I love and hate. I love it because it’s a great time to bond with family members and share a time of gratitude in the communion of those you love. I hate it because while I enjoy indulgently eating my favorite foods, I detest food hangovers and the guilt I feel for days later.
So, I began new traditions, new habits and a new way of looking at things to help me through the food-filled Thanksgiving holiday. Here they are …
Exercise in the morning. I used to spend an hour and a half weight training and performing cardio on Thanksgiving morning. Now I run a 10k for my local food bank. Every year, I help raise money in a “Run to Feed the Hungry” race. Running races is a great charitable act where you bond with other fit families and raise money for a good cause. You can search for charity runs in your area by going to www.active.com.
Eat clean all day, except for Thanksgiving dinner. Every morning I eat my standard breakfast: egg whites and oatmeal, then a shake and fruit for lunch. Eating healthy throughout the day keeps your mind-set positive and stable as you approach the large dinner time.
Bring a dish that is tasty and healthy for dinner. Usually I’m in charge of the salad. I combine fresh fruit, nuts, tomatoes and a light dressing for a perfect “fill me up meal” before the high-caloric foods take over my plate. When you bring your own healthy dish, you’ll have a personal option when mulling over what’s most healthy at the dinner buffet.
Eat the healthy dishes first. I load my plate with turkey breast, some gravy, rice, salad, and then smaller portions of everything else. Eating healthy foods first ensures you’re not only getting good nutrients, but you’re also getting fuller faster.
Wait a while before getting seconds. Naturally, since this is a holiday, I don’t eat one plate. So what I do is wait 10 to 20 minutes between helpings so my body can register to my brain that my stomach is getting full. I take this opportunity to mingle with people, rehydrate and enjoy the company around me.
Get active. After dinner, I’ll take a walk with my dog, children or relatives. Usually I take the kids to the nearby park or walk my dog around the neighborhood. Playing and walking helps me digest my food and also assists in metabolizing it faster than it would if I were sitting on the couch snacking on chips while watching a football game.
It took me years to really focus my mind on the spirit of the holiday versus the physical elements of the holiday. After all, I didn’t want to be the loner who only ate turkey and broccoli, nor did I want to be the couch potato who passed out on the couch from her third helping. I wanted to feel in control over a holiday that most often “took control” over me.
By Maria Kang