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10 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Natalie
Stein
November 21, 2023
10 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving
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In this article:

  • Thanksgiving may include a big meal, but you can take steps to keep it in check and keep up other healthy behaviors.
  • It’s a good idea to be active, stay hydrated, and choose the healthiest choices at the table. You can also plan to manage stress, get enough sleep, and practice gratitude to feel better during and after Thanksgiving.
  • Lark can help you lose weight and eat healthier every day as you log food, get tips, and make small changes that can turn into healthy habits.

Thanksgiving Day can be one of the best days of the year, and the whole weekend can feel festive. Thanksgiving celebrations often center around food, including high-calorie foods that you may not usually choose when you’re trying to eat well or lose weight. Still, you can enjoy your Thanksgiving meal and take steps to be healthy all weekend. Here are 10 tips for a healthy Thanksgiving Day and weekend.

1. Start Off Healthy

Have your usual healthy breakfast on Thanksgiving morning to start the day off right. Some protein and a high-fiber carb are a good combo, with egg whites and vegetables or oatmeal with yogurt and fruit being easy options.

It’s best not to go into your Thanksgiving meal starving because that could lead to overeating high-calorie foods without thinking. If your Thanksgiving dinner is in the afternoon or evening, have an appropriate snack or lunch with fiber and protein a few hours before.

2. Bring a Healthy Gift

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, make sure there’s enough healthy food for you to be satisfied. If you’re a guest, it’s a good idea to do the same. Ask the host what is on the menu. It will most

likely include turkey, which means you’ll have a lean protein option, but it’s possible that there aren’t many other healthy foods. If that’s the case, bring a healthy dish to share.

Here are some ideas.

  • A fall salad with kale or spinach, cooked butternut squash cubes, and fresh cranberries
  • Roasted cauliflower with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • A fruit basket with seasonal fruit, such as pears

3. Choose Good Foods

Thanksgiving tables can have a lot of high-calorie foods, but also can have some nutritious ones. Do your best to have skinless, light-meat turkey, and to eat as many plain or simply prepared vegetables as possible. Roasted vegetables and green salad are good options. If you’re not sure what will be served, consider bringing a vegetable platter or fruit basket to make sure there’s something high in fiber and low in calories compared to pies and casseroles.

4. Eat Slowly

Eating slowly helps you eat less and lower your risk of indigestion after the big meal. Remember that the goal is to enjoy your food as much as possible, and not to eat as much food as quickly as you can.

Here are some tips to help you slow down.

  • Socialize with whomever is near you, and don’t eat while talking
  • Chew slowly
  • Notice each flavor and texture of these special foods before swallowing them
  • Put your fork and knife down between bites

Another tip to help you eat slowly is to get up from the table before going for second (or third) helpings. Getting up from the table can give you a better sense of how full you actually are.

Even if you decide you need another plateful of food, you’ll delay it by standing up which helps you eat more slowly.

5. Eat Only at the Table

Just like any other time of year, eating only at the table helps you eat less. When you snack while standing, you may eat a lot more than you realize. Try to avoid too many tastes in the kitchen before the meal, or eating leftovers while cleaning up and putting food away after the meal.

You can also use the “eat while seated at the table” rule to help yourself stop eating at the end of the meal. Plus, you can avoid eating while on the couch watching television.

6. Hydrate Well

Staying hydrated prevents fatigue and headaches from dehydration. Be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if you’re cooking in a hot kitchen or you’re working hard preparing to host and serve dinner.

Water and other low-calorie beverages are best. Limit or avoid alcohol to avoid excess calories as well as the risk of overeating without realizing it, since alcohol limits your inhibition and impairs judgment.

7. Take Care of Leftovers

One large meal isn’t a big deal, but it can turn into a weekend of unhealthy overeating if you dig into unhealthy leftovers like cheesecake, stuffing, pies, and casseroles. If Thanksgiving dinner was at your house, send guests home with containers of anything you don’t want to end up in your stomach and on your hips.

For healthier leftovers, such as turkey and roasted vegetables, look for recipes you can make with them. Here are some examples.

  • Turkey sandwiches or wraps on whole-grain bread or tortillas
  • Turkey melt with low-fat cheese and tomatoes on corn tortillas
  • Turkey vegetable soup with leftover roasted vegetables and beans or barley
  • Turkey breakfast casserole with eggs and vegetables
  • Turkey chili with beans and vegetables

8. Go to Sleep

Just like the rest of the year, getting enough sleep supports better health on and around Thanksgiving. Along with regular sleep practices, here are some considerations for Thanksgiving.

  • Sleep may be more important than a sparkling house before you go to bed on Thanksgiving. If you’re tired, washing the dishes can wait until tomorrow.
  • Avoid alcohol to improve sleep quality. Even though alcohol makes you feel tired, it can lead to a less deep sleep.
  • You’re likely to eat a bigger dinner than usual, but you can help yourself out by eating as early as possible. If your Thanksgiving dinner is usually late, try to move it earlier in the day to let yourself digest before bedtime.
  • Consider using earplugs if you’re a guest in a house with people staying up later than you, or if you have houseguests who stay up later than you do.

9. Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is good for the mind and body, and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to try it. Many Thanksgiving celebrations include time for people to say what they’re grateful for, often before or after the meal. You can also make an effort all weekend to identify what you’re thankful for and why, and to let people know that you’re thankful for them, and why.

Volunteering is another way to practice gratitude, and it’s been shown to have physical and mental health benefits. Serving dinner on Thanksgiving, working at food pantries, and organizing or helping at community clean-ups are all good ways to give back to your community.

10. De-Stress

Sadly, Thanksgiving can be stressful for many people. Keep a lookout for sources of stress and try to manage them. Going for a walk, deep breathing, and meditating can all help manage

stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by family members, try to go to a quiet room by yourself whenever you need it.

This weekend should be about the good things in life, so try to set aside unrealistic expectations, such as pulling off a five-star dinner with professional-looking decor, and instead just do your best to enjoy it.

How Lark Can Help

When you plan ahead, you can eat healthier on Thanksgiving. Lark can support your efforts as you track food and get lifestyle tips. Your personal Lark coach is available every day of the year, 24/7, to help you reach your goals through small changes in your daily life.

Click here to see if you may be eligible to join Lark today!

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