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Tips to Have a Healthy Thanksgiving

By Catherine Horyczun & Mitchie Touzin, Contributing Writers

Thanksgiving is a holiday for spending time with family and friends, giving thanks, and of course, sharing food with loved ones. With a heavy emphasis on food, Thanksgiving can be stressful for those trying to maintain certain health goals. Holidays often include rich, delicious food which sometimes leads to overindulging and straying from your normal diet. Unfortunately, this can lead to guilt for a lot of us, so we put together some helpful tips to help you stay on track while still enjoying the day. Planning ahead and paying attention to your hunger cues are going to make all the difference.

First things first, eat breakfast. Many people assume that skipping breakfast is the best way to cut down on calories on holidays, but it can actually lead to the opposite. Skipping meals can cause extreme hunger which can cause overeating later on in the day and leave you feeling like a stuffed turkey.

Now that it’s time to celebrate and eat, what should you do? Start by looking over all of the food options and aim for a balanced plate. Be sure half the plate is filled with fruits and/or vegetables, a quarter with protein, and a quarter grains. Do not let your eyes be bigger than your stomach. Decide which foods you would like to try, take a small portion of each and fit them into each section accordingly. Don’t be afraid to avoid some foods or not finish everything on your plate. If you are going for a second plate of food try to use a smaller plate or half the size of the original plate. Over the course of your full meal, it is important to listen to your hunger cues, eat slowly and take breaks to figure out if you are full or still hungry. You can do this by engaging in the conversation around the table and focusing on family instead of food. Another way to prevent overeating is to drink plenty of water throughout the day, or have some seasonal soup to help slow down your eating and fill you up. By listening to and eating according to your body, you can become full without overeating to the point of being uncomfortable.

Not sure if healthy foods are going to be available to you at your Thanksgiving meal? Don’t be afraid to whip something up yourself. Not everyone may have the same dietary preference as you, so bring your own dish so you will be sure to have something to enjoy. You can try making healthy substitutes of popular dishes like mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, or a vegetable and rice medley instead of stuffing.

Now that dinner is done, what should you do? Be active. After dinner is a great time to do a family activity such as going for a walk, taking a bike ride, or even tossing a football. Doing something active can help with digestion and give you more time in between dinner and dessert. Once it’s time for dessert, be sure to incorporate some of the same tips from dinner time. It is important to continue with portion control, bring your own slimmed down holiday favorites, and choose some healthier dessert options.

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family, enjoy their company, and enjoy some food. Just remember everything in moderation. You do not have to deprive yourself of what you enjoy, or stress because you ate more than usual. Thanksgiving dinner is just one meal, it will not make or break you. So enjoy your meal, go back for some seconds if you’re still hungry, have dessert, enjoy this time with family and friends, and give thanks. 

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