Can I please tell you how EXCITED I am that Thanksgiving is a week away!?!?! Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday, since my parent shipped me off to college and I’d come home to all of my favorite foods. I love everything from the constant stream of football on TV and delicious smell of food, to yummy pumpkin pie and post-meal nap. With living on the West Coast, I don’t really get to go back to Ohio for Thanksgiving, so I’ve had to be really creative to find that same experience here in LA; thankfully I have great friends who take me in with their families or am invited to their Friendsgiving dinner. With every new Thanksgiving tradition I make, I always try to remember that as yummy as everything is moderation is key! It’s so simple to binge on all of the amazing foods at your Thanksgiving dinner (trust… my eyes are always bigger than my stomach at holiday meals), but over the years, I have taken the time to come up with some great tips to keep my eating in check and to stay active throughout the entire holiday season! They’re great because you can easily incorporate them into the holiday season without too much effort (which I LOVE) and they’ll help you keep on track into the coming new year. Take a look below at the tips and see which ones you can add into your holiday season!
Holiday Survival Tips
- Vegetables are your friend! And no, I do not mean you favorite Aunt’s Creamy, Crispy Green Bean Casserole. I’m talking real veggies with limited sauces or dressings. When I’m with my family at the holidays, I make sure to fill my plate with veggies first, then the protein, then those tasty-yet-dangerous sides. If you know dinner won’t have too many low sauce veggies options, suggest bringing something that you know will be a healthy hit (you’re host will LOVE you btw)! My go-to recipe that is always on point for any fall/winter function is Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables; I swear it’s the simplest side to make, especially if you’re a little
lazybusy like myself and buy everything pre-cut at the grocery store. And if you really have no time to make a dish, grab Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Salad Kit! Throw it in a bowl and have a delicious, yet healthy veggie option at the dinner table.
- Try alternative ingredients in your favorite classic recipes! A couple years ago, I decided to make some of my family’s favorite holiday recipes with healthier ingredient options and it was the best decision ever! A favorite for my family is Braised Collard Greens made with pork and “oil” (aka
fatlard) that goes from healthy to heart attack quick. I cleaned up the dish by using Kale and cooking with a little olive oil, sea salt, garlic powder and water (this recipe used chicken stock or low-sodium broth instead of water for more flavor). Other ideas to change things up is using whole wheat noodles for mac-n-cheese, substituting potatoes for cauliflower in your mashed “potatoes”, or use broths and stocks to add flavor without the fattiness of meats.
- Set your limits early on! My wonderful Great Aunt is an AMAZING baker and her cakes & pies are one of my guiltiest pleasures in life, but her southern upbringing has her baked treats rivaling Paula Deen (butter, butter, and more butter). As much as I love her desserts, I know that I have to set a limit, especially when you’re not focusing on the actual act of eating (talking, laughing, and drinking all put you into eating auto mode). Even now when I am at Friendsgiving, I make it a point before I even step foot into the host’s house that I set a limit on desserts. Usually I’ll allow myself 1 piece of cake or pie or 2 normal sized cookies. Once it’s set in my head, I make a concious effort at dinner to save room for those treats instead of falling into a nasty food coma from overeating.
- Break up the courses! Several years ago, I spent a fabulous Thanksgiving with a friend’s in-laws who served courses throughout the day. At first I was slightly
annoyedconfused because we could easily wait until everything was done, but it made AMAZING sense once I experienced it! We started with appetizers while watching TV and lounging in the family room. Next up was a yummy salad followed by a fun activity outside with cocktails, then it was time for the main course which was too delicious for words (no joke!). After dinner we went on a long walk and when we came back to the house, it was time for dessert and coffee. It sounds long, but in the course of 4-5 hours we had spaced out the meal and got to enjoy each other company instead of stuffing our faces and napping for 2 hours.
- Make a move after dinner! I know how tempting a nap is after you eat that delicious turkey meal, but don’t do it! I swear by a good 20-45 minute walk after dinner to get the food to digest and to reduce that full feeling. It’s the worst when you wake up after that food induced
comanap and it feels like there’s a small brick in your belly. I also think that taking a quick walk with friends or family gives you time to chat about those thing that aren’t always the best over dinner conversations (a good little family or friend gossip sesh never hurt anyone).
- Game time is bonding time! Sorry, but I’m not talking about watching the football games. If the weather isn’t cooperating with you this Thanksgiving, play an active game with everyone after dinner. Try the Act it Out category on the app Heads Up! It’s perfect for really everyone and all you need is someone’s cell phone to play (I recommend taking it from one of the millennials, so that they join on the fun and not worry about who’s texting them). The game will not only keep you active and digesting your food easier, but you’ll make some great memories with your people (that’s what it’s all about, right?).
- Start Thanksgiving morning with a workout! I know it’s a holiday, but when I workout early on Thanksgiving, I generally eat better throughout the day. I don’t spend hours working out, but at least 30 minutes will do the trick (think hiking/walking, jogging, an elliptical sesh, or even some laps in the pool). I’m also big on making it a group activity and always ask my friends or family members to join me. They all groan and roll their eyes, but at the end they feel really good going into the food-crazed day! If I’m heading out of town and don’t really know my whereabouts, I use an at home workout DVD! I LOVE and LIVE for Dawn Archer’s SWEAT workouts (SWEAT 2 is my favorite!)! You’ve heard me talk about her in a past post, but her affordable ($1 to rent or $5 to buy!) videos can easily be digital downloaded from her site on to your computer and after a round or two, I promise you’ll be feelin’ good and in control before dinner!
I know how crazy the holidays can be, especially Thanksgiving, but I know that these tips have saved me one too many times from a food coma and then some! The best part of my little list is that they can be used for other holidays and big occasions (weddings or big family functions). Do you have a tip that you use to survive the craziness of the holidays? Well I need to know about it, so share it below in the comment section!