This is not the turkey you're looking for. Lots of amateur athletes will kick off Thanksgiving by participating in their local Turkey Trot race, and that helps rationalize the eating-fest that follows. But for those of us who need to keep our eating choices sane this Thursday, Thanksgiving means having a plan ahead of time. Remember these tips before you dig in:
- Remember, this is a meal, just like all the others. Do not over-glamourize buffets - the real meaning of this holiday is counting your blessings and spending time with your family and friends. Don’t overemphasize food just because everyone else seems to.
- Do not arrive at get-togethers hungry. Eat something sensible at home before you arrive at Aunt Midge’s famous spread. This will prevent you from making poor food choices out of sheer weakness.
- Watch your alcohol consumption. Getting a buzz on will lower your inhibitions and therefore you'll be more susceptible to throwing in the towel on healthy eating for the day.
- Eat a “healthy plate” first. Allow yourself some less healthy options if you’re still hungry after your first, healthy helpings. That first plate may satisfy you completely - you don’t know unless you try.
- Start with salad or vegetables. If you start your meal with these bulky, low-calorie options, you’re less likely to gorge on less virtuous options. Caution: sweet potatoes aren’t a healthy choice if they are infused with marshmallows and other sugars.
- Eat the white meat. The turkey’s white meat is a quality protein, so enjoy. Steer clear of the dark meat and the skin if you’re cutting fat.
- Eat “white carbs” last, if at all. Things that contain white flour and sugar should be eaten in moderation, like stuffing, white bread, pie, etc. If you’re still hungry at the end of your healthy first plate, take small portions of these foods.
- Only eat until you are full. Do not eat past the point of fullness. If well-meaning friends or relatives keep bugging you to try something and you know you’re full, ask if you can take a serving to go so you can eat it when you can “really appreciate it fully”.
- Don’t require perfection of yourself. Few people eat perfectly during Thanksgiving, so if you weren’t as disciplined as you wanted to be, don’t beat yourself up. Think of it as carbo-loading for a big Friday workout!