Let me start by saying this:
People tend to overreact to the “damage” that may or may not be done on Thanksgiving when it comes to overeating.
Remember – it’s just one day.
And just like fasting for a day doesn’t cause you to starve or become malnourished…one day of feasting on delicious, homemade food doesn’t cause you to become fat or unhealthy.
This is a day that’s meant to be enjoyed. If you’re stressing or anxious about overeating, don’t be. It isn’t helping you in the long-run and is causing you to miss out on what the holidays are all about.
But if you’re feeling good about the progress you’re making, and you want to keep up some of the positive momentum, there are a few tips you can follow in this Thanksgiving survival guide that will help a ton on the big day.
Skip breakfast & fast until the main meal
Now obviously this has a lot to do with your fasting experience level and what time you actually have Thanksgiving dinner…but if you’re comfortable, saving all of your calories for the main feast is a great strategy and one I’ve done the last 3 years.
Not only does this allow you to create more “room” to consume delicious Thanksgiving food, but when you’re fasting, you’re slowly depleting your glycogen levels. Glycogen is the back-up source of energy that is stored in your liver.
By depleting this and creating more room for calories, you’re increasing your energy requirements for food and thus decreasing the amount that may be stored as fat.
If you’re someone who is afraid of an all-out-binge, feel free to have something light beforehand, but the main point is to save room for you to enjoy all the great Thanksgiving food that you normally may not consume throughout the rest of the year.
Create a “balanced” plate
Are mashed potatoes and stuffing amazing and delicious?
Yes. And I plan on having lots of them tomorrow.
But make sure your entire plate isn’t dominated by heavy, filling dishes and have some variety.
Load up on Turkey, ham, and other protein sources to ensure you stay full and satisfied.
Add some greens and healthy veggies for vitamins and fiber.
And try everything! You can always go back for seconds of your favorites if you’re still hungry, so don’t feel pressure to load up your plate 15 levels high.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Keep the alcohol “lower-calorie”
Again, like I said in the beginning, it’s only one day. If you have a few drinks, it’s not the end of the world.
Even if it’s a mixed drink, cider, or heavy beer.
But if you’re looking to keep it (slightly) in-check, opt for some alcohol options that will give you little more bang for your buck.
Liquors and low-calorie mixers are great way to start to day when small plates are being passed around. I’m a big fan of whiskey & soda or maybe a Moscow mule with a splash of cranberry.
Once dinner begins, go with red wine. Not only is less calories than most alcohol choices, I find it pairs really well with heavy meals and the type of foods that are normally served on Thanksgiving.
My girlfriend, Polly, recently tried out a mulled wine recipe if you’re looking to spice things up a bit – I highly recommend it, especially after dinner with a slice of pie.
Take a post dinner walk
Taking walks after meals has shown to help with blood sugar control and digestion. So why not make it a family activity on the big day?
Have dinner, take a nice walk outside, burn some extra calories…you’ll be feeling a lot better about that massive meal you just ate.
After that, sit down with some pie and watch football.
Eat mindfully & enjoy your company
Oftentimes, the holidays become incredibly food-obsessed. What you’re eating, what should you be eating, did you eat too much…I’m guilty of it just like anyone else. And yes, Thanksgiving in general is about the food, more so than other holidays.
I get that.
But once you start focusing on other things. Catching up with family, how the food tastes, telling stories, laughing at jokes…the amount of food you’re eating becomes less important, and without noticing, less on your plate.
When you’re mindful, experiences like these are always more enjoyable and lend themselves to healthier choices.
Which brings me to my last tip…
Relax, enjoy and DON’T count calories
Need I say more?
Whether you follow these tips or not, do yourself a favor and eliminate stress and worry about your current health goals.
Enjoy yourself, don’t be a complete pig, and take care of business the rest of the week and you’ll be just fine – I promise.
A healthy lifestyle isn’t about restriction – it’s about finding ways to enjoy these moments year-round while continuing to make progress.
Remember – you can’t mess this up.
So if you’re following tip #1 on fasting, throwing in a fasted workout the morning of Thanksgiving can have some tremendous benefits. As mentioned, it will deplete your glycogen (but much more quickly) and will also help with nutrient storage once you do start eating.
This means more food towards your muscles, recovery, and energy with even less going towards fat storage. If you’re looking for a quick and effective workout, try out this circuit below.
Set a time for timer for 30-45 minutes. Perform 10 reps of each exercise below with minimal rest in between exercises, and one-minute rest in between rounds. Perform as many rounds as possible in the time allotted.
Supplements aren’t really necessary, but check this out if you’re looking to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels under control before consuming a carb-heavy meal.
You can also think about investing in some digestive enzymes that will help you probably absorb and process some of the excess food you’re consuming, so you don’t feel completely immobile after eating too much turkey and stuffing.
Hope these help! Give them a try and let me know in the comments afterwards!