How To Keep Thanksgiving From Derailing Your Diet Without Skipping The Fun

pumkin and pecan pie

( There is no need to skip the fun or traditional dishes on Thanksgiving. Follow these easy tricks to keep Thanksgiving dinner indulgences in check without deprivation. 

Why should I bother? 

Believe it or not holiday season is just about upon us. Canadian Thanksgiving is only a week away! October through December is often crowded with multiple holiday dinners, parties with friends and coworkers and weeks of extra calories from rich foods and adult drinks. 

Mitigating the effects of the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, can help you keep from adding on those insidious extra pounds year after year. Using mindful techniques and a balanced approach means you don't have to feel deprived or follow some unhealthy, punishing diet come January. 

Pre Thanksgiving Warm Up Week

  • Schedule regular activity in the week leading up to the big day whether its going for a swim, popping in yoga DVDs, or hitting the gym. Staying active burns a few extra calories but also helps keep your eating on track by keeping your mind on healthy practices. 
  • Plan for a few lighter dinners to help offset later indulgences- think big salads with healthy proteins like salmon that are tasty and filling but easy on the calorie bank. 
  • Stick to whole foods - fruits, veggies, whole grains and unprocessed proteins such as beef, fish, chicken, eggs and legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils...). Knowing you are saving your treat time for the actual holiday makes it easier to eat clean during the week without feeling like you're missing out. You're just making those indulgent bites count by saving them for when they will be the most satisfying!

The Big Day

  • Make doing something active a thanksgiving tradition - get the whole family moving. Go for a walk, hike or bike ride or organize a touch football game if you have kids or teens who might want something a little more engaging. 
  • Don't skip breakfast- have a healthy balanced breakfast that is heavy on fruit (or veggies!) with a bit of protein in the form of eggs or yogurt. It helps to moderate the chemicals that tell you you're full. there is also some thought that going long periods without eating may actually slow your metabolism over time- not something you want right before a big meal!
  • Go easy on the appies during the day to both limit the excess and save room for the main event! If you are hosting put out veggies and dip and a bountiful fruit tray to help boost the nutrient factor and quash pre-dinner munchies. 
  • Prop up the usual suspects with nutrient packed side dishes that still delight. Try garlicky sauteed kale, beautiful salads, wild rice pilaf, and all the wonderful variations on cooked greens. These nutrient packed foods will help offset some of the damage that comes with rich meals, adult drinks and elevated blood sugar. 
  • When dinner comes don't skip any of your favourite dishes, but do follow a balanced plate. Fill up at least half your plate with non starchy veggies. Give a quarter over to the turkey (or whatever your family serves) and the last quarter over to bread, starchy veggies and grains. Don't forget to save room for dessert, instead of making room for dessert! Aim to finish dinner on about a 6 on the hunger scale (if 1 is starving and 10 is stuffed to the brim in a bad way) so dessert sits well instead of pushing you in to a food coma. 
  • Speaking of sweets, choose your favourite dessert or have small portions of a couple of options to keep from going overboard. Pay attention to what is going in your mouth; noticing the flavour, texture and absolute yumminess of each bite to get the most satisfaction. When we take time to notice what we eat, we need less to feel good about it. 

Big side bonus to these strategies? You'll find the after dinner fatigue and next day food hangover is much less. Typically the carb heavy day is what plays with our energy and leaves you feeling sapped. More energy means more time to get out and enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend. 

What are some of your favourite ways to get through the holiday season in a healthy way? Share with us in the comments below!



Lovely image courtesy of Cameron Nordholm



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