We are always so worried about “surviving” the holidays. Therein lies our first mistake! We are approaching Thanksgiving Day, or the holiday season, from a perspective of fear, doubt, and reaction. Instead of giving you a guide to surviving Thanksgiving week, TNT Nutrition wants to help you conquer your holiday food fears! Holidays should be about enjoying food and festivities with family and friends. But we know how important your fitness goals are to you, as well. Our healthy holiday eating tips are about being mindful, allowing yourself to enjoy, and planning properly, which all make the perfect recipe for a healthy Thanksgiving!
#1 Give yourself permission to eat. This means enjoying delicious fare synonymous with Thanksgiving Day. Choose the 3-5 holiday foods that you love. Anticipate the meal just as you would a weekly treat meal, unabashedly guilt-free! And eat as you normally would. Grab a few sides of this, a scoop of that, and a dessert. Enjoy every bite! This will satiate your need to feast and enjoy the holiday. But, there’s no need to go up for seconds or thirds. The first plate is always the most satisfying. You’ll probably be pretty full afterwards. Seconds or thirds only serve to add to the guilt, sluggishness and feelings of overindulgence
#2 Bookend your holiday with healthy plans. Just as you might approach an evening out for date night during a regular week, plan the days leading up to the holiday and after with your normal healthy activities. That means your regular gym workouts (or alternative workouts at a different gym or at home if you’ll be travelling.)
#3 Plan a “reset” day. This idea has a positive association with adding foods to your diet to get your body feeling great again. Have some meals prepped in your fridge, ready to go for the day after. Fresh vegetables, either in the form of colorful salads or freshly-pressed juices, serve as a healthy pick-me-up after some of the heavier holiday fare.
#4 Don’t overthink or over-plan. There’s no need to get into the mindset of “I have to add in an extra 2 cardio sessions this week” or “I’ll lift for an extra 20 minutes to help burn off these calories.” A fear-based, reactionary plan does nothing to help overcome these fears and only feeds them more. Instead, tell yourself that one day will not undo your hard work. It is OK to celebrate and to enjoy, mindfully and moderately. And you have a plan to simply resume your regularly scheduled life immediately after.
#5 PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t starve yourself all day to “save room” for expected excess calories. You are asking yourself for a bingeing disaster! Have a satisfying breakfast and try to keep to your normal eating rhythm while staying hydrated. Collectively this will help you actually keep the second and third helpings from finding their way back to your seat.
#6 Decide what part of the meal is most important to you… The mash potatoes? The stuffing? The pie? Keep in mind as your body becomes full and realizes it doesn’t need to call on you to feed it, your taste buds become dull. Do you want to experience that favorite part of the meal when your taste buds are dull causing it to feel forceful, or would you rather have a little room left to truly appreciate the amazing flavor it has to offer?
#7 Don’t ride the guilt train. If you do happen to overindulge, there’s still no need to respond through fear. Simply get back on your post-holiday plan and after a few days, you’ll feel comfortable in your regular routine again. Sometimes it’s helpful to understand why you overindulged, how it made you feel both during and after, and why you wouldn’t want to repeat that behavior the next time around. Make a note of it, and move on.
The key to having a guilt-free, healthy Thanksgiving is about understanding and giving yourself permission to eat and enjoy the holiday food. Create a positive experience by letting yourself have a relaxing day of food and fun without letting thoughts of food, exercise, or guilt overwhelm you. May you have a healthy Thanksgiving, full of laughter, family, friends, without a side of guilt! Happy Thanksgiving from TNT Nutrition!
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