Thanksgiving is almost here! For food lovers, this is hands-down the greatest holiday of them all. But for those who struggle with their weight, it can be the most dreaded day of the year. Between the constant snacking during the football game, giant dinner with endless sides, and wide array of desserts that seem to call your name, Thanksgiving can be a seriously calorie-dense day.
The good news is, with a little preparation, you can enjoy Thanksgiving—and all the yummy food that goes with it—with much less guilt. Keep reading for five easy-to-follow tips to avoid gaining weight this Thanksgiving.
1. Start your day with a fiber-filled breakfast.
By filling up on a healthy, fiber-loaded meal for breakfast, you’ll be less likely to snack during the day as you wait for dinner to be ready. Try some oatmeal topped with fruit and nuts, some whole-wheat blueberry pancakes, or a strawberry-banana smoothie.
2. Take 30 to 60 minutes for a brisk walk or jog before the dinner preparations even begins.
Whether you’re making the meal or just waiting for it to be ready, the house is filled with distractions while the cooking is going on, so get in your workout before any of the chaos begins. It doesn’t have to be your greatest workout ever—just enough to burn some extra calories and get yourself moving.
3. At the table, fill most of your plate with lean cuts of meat and vegetables.
Turkey is actually a healthy meat. It becomes a calorie disaster when it's doused with gravy and dipped in mashed potatoes that are loaded with butter. When you've filled up on the healthy stuff, then simply taste the heavier dishes, instead of eating a large serving. Since the healthier, lower-calorie options you eat first will fill you up, you’ll have less room for the food that causes you to pack on the pounds.
4. Wait at least 20 minutes before you get a second helping.
This is very important since it takes at least this long for your body to register how full it actually is. You may realize after 20 minutes that you don't want seconds after all. This sounds harder than it actually is. Thanksgiving dinner is usually filled with conversation, so it’s easy to distract yourself while you wait to see if you’re truly ready for that second helping.
5. Enjoy a serving of fruit for dessert instead of pies and ice cream.
I know, I know, it seems like I’m killing all your fun right now. But trust me, if you combine all your favorite fruits together and add a little bit of whipped cream, you won’t miss the pies. The calories you save doing this will be well worth it.
Brian Maher is a personal trainer in Center City Philadelphia who specializes in weight loss and nutritional counseling. He is the owner of Philly Personal Training, a company offering convenient in-home personal training packages to busy individuals looking to improve their fitness levels. To learn more about Brian and his services, visit www.phillypersonaltraining.com. Read all of Brian’s posts for Be Well Philly here.