How to Stay Healthy Over Thanksgiving

Let’s just start by saying that Thanksgiving is one day. One day. One day doesn’t make or break your weight loss goals or exercise goals or health goals. But, that being said, I totally understand that it’s not really one day when you consider all the Friendsgivings, leftovers in the fridge, sweets at the office, and the wine, beer, cocktails, cider, etc etc.

 
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The average American actually gains about 1 lb over the holiday season. Okay, not a big deal. Butttt that does add up year to year if you don’t get it off post-holidays. Plus, it doesn’t help if you’re trying to lose weight to begin with. So, here are my tips for staying healthy this Thanksgiving, keeping your weight moving (if that’s your goal), and maintaining your weight loss.

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  • Lose the "all or nothing" mentality and keep that 80/20 mindset - 80% of the time, aim for half of your plate to be vegetables, 1/4 lean protein, and 1/4 whole grains. The rest of the time you can indulge, but do it mindfully.

  • Don't "save up" for Thanksgiving dinner or a party. Skipping meals sets you up to overeat later in the day. Eat a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast on Thanksgiving Day and keep lunch light if you plan to eat a big dinner - have a salad or a meal that’s mostly vegetables and lean protein and do fewer starches if you plan to load up on potatoes, bread, and dessert that night.

  • Don't stand next to the food table at parties. You'll eat more.

  • Serve your Thanksgiving dinner at the kitchen counter or stove and then go sit down. You’ll eat less than if you serve it family style on the dining room table.

  • Eat off of a salad plate instead of a dinner plate.

  • Alternate alcohol and water. Fun fact: We pour less red wine into wine glasses than white wine, and we pour less wine when we pour looking down on the glass from the top versus holding the glass at eye level and pouring. 

  • Stick to your exercise schedule and consider adding another day or two. If you’re already working out 4-6x/wk, you’re good. If you’re only working out 1-2 days, add 2 days. Walking counts so go on a walk, try a new workout class, or hire a personal trainer during this season if you know you won't get the exercise done on your own (that’s what I’m doing!).

  • Manage your stress. Stress raises cortisol levels, which makes you crave sugar. Not a good combo during the holidays. Schedule a massage, facial, or mani/pedi. Or maybe some retail therapy with all the sales coming up ;)

  • If you're trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss, stepping on the scale once a week can help keep you on track, but is not mandatory. If you know that it’s just going to stress you out, stay away (see point above about how stress raises cortisol). Also, remember that everyone's weight fluctuates 3-5 lbs throughout the day and even more throughout the holidays with extra sodium and alcohol. If you want something tangible to track that’s not the scale, track your workouts.

  • Going out to eat? Steer clear of menu items described as "breaded," "fried," "loaded," "battered," and "crispy." These words mean extra, unhealthy fat has been added. Instead choose "baked," "broiled," "grilled," "poached," or "roasted."

  • Don't label foods as good or bad and don't deprive yourself of any food. Deprivation leads to overeating or binge eating.


Bottom line: enjoy the holidays! Holiday food is delicious and memorable. Make your family's favorite cookie recipe and eat it with zero guilt. Take reasonable portion sizes and pay attention to your hunger and satiety cues. And if you want accountability, reach out! I’m helping many men and women stay on track this holiday season and am happy to help you too!

Now tell me below - which dish are you most excited to eat this Thanksgiving?

Lainey Younkin