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How to Have a Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving’s almost here, and it marks the beginning of the wonderfully delicious holiday season. There’s so much to be thankful for: turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, and the list goes on. What you might not be so grateful for, though, is the weight and inactivity that often set in during this time of year. With these tips, you can have a healthier Thanksgiving and feel great during the rest of the holidays.

  1. Make exercise a tradition:

    For many families around the country, Thanksgiving means going in the back yard for a friendly game of football. Guys and girls of all ages in the family can play, and everyone will benefit from fresh air and some extra movement. If football’s not your game, pick your family’s favorite team sport, sign up for a local 5k, or just make walking to the corner store for last-minute supplies a tradition. Find something easy that everyone enjoys so that you can keep it up year after year.

  2. Choose healthier recipes:

    Easy on the cream, salt, and butter! Just altering your recipes in some easy ways or finding slightly healthier versions can make a big difference on your waist line. Try new recipes that showcase great spices and seasonal produce, or try some ingredient substitutions in the classics. Try apple sauce for butter, evaporated skim milk for cream, and the low-sodium version of any creamy soups you use. You probably won’t even notice the difference!

  3. Be careful with your snacks:

    One strategy suggested by some weight loss experts is to eat a healthy breakfast and eat good-for-you snacks before the big meal so you’ll be less likely to gorge on the fatty foods on the dinner table. But make sure you’re not mindlessly munching in the hours leading up to dinner. Many chips, dips, and other appetizers can be full of fat and empty of nutrients. If you’re going to snack, make sure you know what you’re putting in your body and how much.

  4. Know the smartest options:

    You shouldn’t avoid Thanksgiving foods altogether. It’s a celebration, after all! But make sure you know which foods are smart decisions and which ones you’ll regret eating later. Choose white meat over dark, pumpkin pie over apple pie, and any vegetables that aren’t covered in creamy soup or marshmallows!

  5. Balance your meal:

    If a third of your plate is filled with gravy, we’re guessing your meal isn’t going to be very healthy. Feel free to try some of everything you want, but get small portions, particularly of the fattiest foods. Go heavier on the whole grains, vegetables, and white meat. You’ll be full and still feel like you got to indulge a bit.

  6. Think twice about having seconds:

    Don’t undo your healthy portion control on your first plate by going back for seconds or even thirds! It’s easy to get carried away since you only have these foods once a year, but remember, you’ll probably be eating leftovers for the next week. You aren’t missing your chance to eat these foods; you’ll have them in your fridge for days and then have another full meal at Christmas!

  7. Take it slow:

    It’s tempting to scarf down all those tasty Thanksgiving foods as soon as your plate hits the table, but you could be setting yourself up for weight gain and that icky bloated feeling if you eat too fast. Your body takes as long as 20 minutes to recognize that it’s full, so if you keep eating and eating and eating, you won’t realize you’re full until after you’ve consumed more calories than you want to. Take small bites, chew thoroughly, and enjoy the company of your guests.

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