Thanksgiving is almost here! Time to pull out your stretchy pants, play some football, and stuff your face with turkey so you don’t offend Aunt Gladys with your potty mouth, again. With dishes like sweet potatoes, green beans, hams and the ever so popular brussel sprouts, Thanksgiving is truly the athlete's holiday. Whether you are paleo or not.
Though this menu is usually made up of approved items, It can easily turn into calorie overload, and lets be honest, the leftovers are the best. With a little help from our friend and certified nutritionist Tara Coleman, here are some tips for making better decisions when is comes to chowing down this thanksgiving, and for the Holiday season in general.
Try to exercise before sitting down to feast . “Burning calories before diving into your Thanksgiving meal will not only create a calorie deficit for the day,” Coleman says “but it will also make you feel healthier and less prone to overindulging.” Go throw a football around with the cousins, do your WOD in the morning, or sign up for a 5K. Do something active to get your metabolism going so that you can feel less guilty about your overloaded plate.
That being said, Tara actually advises you to go back for seconds, or even thirds! This is why we love her.
Typically we have the “eyes are bigger than our stomachs” syndrome, and we begin to throw oversized scoops of food onto our plate as if we haven’t eaten in days, and need to feed a family of 4. We then decide that we are going to finish every last drop, whether we are hungry or not.
Instead of keeping with this glutinous tradition, Tara says to grab small portions on your first go-around. You will thank yourself later, unlike cousin Charlie, who has built a turkey and mashed potato volcano, complete with cranberry lava. And don’t worry! This isn’t the end of your meal. After you have finished your first plate, go back and grab the things that you liked most. This will not only give you a little more control with how much you eat, but most likely keep you from wasting. Which in turn means more leftovers! “If you are still hungry,” Coleman says “ go back and grab some more. You can keep going back, but only if you are legitimately hungry.” With all of the trips you are making, you will not only eat less, but you will give yourself a little time to figure out when you are actually full. Nobody wants to end their meal with antacids as desert.
You can still have all of the things that you like to eat, but choosing a healthier version will significantly cut down calories. Try making roasted sweet potatoes and onions instead of a sweet potato casserole. A cauliflower mash is a great substitute for mashed potatoes and tastes just as good.
“Did you know that you can cut the calories in half by simply baking your stuffing outside of the bird rather than inside?” says Coleman. “The reason is the drippings from the bird add a significant amount of fat and calories.” Instead bake your stuffing in its own pan. For those Paleo eaters, here is a great grain-free thanksgiving stuffing recipe. Made with with almond flour bread, this is as close as it gets to traditional stuffing.
Add some fresh veggies to the mix. “Most veggies are hidden in casserole form or under heavy sauces.” Coleman states. But sauteing your veggies, or even having fresh veggies to nibble on beforehand, you can still get all of the nutrients that they provide.
Tara’s last piece of advice is to remember that Thanksgiving is just one day! She reminds us that it does not start Wednesday night and end on Monday morning, and it definitely does not last until January 1st! Your body knows how to handle single overindulgences but it can’t handle multiple.
So enjoy your Thanksgiving meal with your friends and family, and then get back to your healthy lifestyle. Listen to your body. When it’s telling you that it can’t take anymore, it’s best to just quit while you are ahead.