No wonder we eat so much on Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims had three days for a holiday feast which we try to stuff into one afternoon. It's easy to justify, because it's just one day, right? According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday weight gain accumulates over time and can lead to obesity. You can avoid feeling like an overstuffed butterball on Thanksgiving by borrowing a page from Jane Austen's book: exercise some sense and sensibility.
1. Eat a Nutritious Breakfast
Take the time on Thanksgiving morning to prepare a nutritious breakfast. Try a non-fat Greek yogurt and strawberry smoothie with wheat germ and your favorite protein powder. Cook up some egg whites, fold in spinach and eat with whole wheat toast. A simple bowl of yogurt with fresh fruit and unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts) will also satiate a pre-turkey appetite.
2. Leave a Sexy Invitation for Your Significant Other
If you flirt a little and actually invite your SO to have some quiet, alone time together, you may both be less apt to have that second piece of pumpkin pie. After all, you may want to have some energy to do more than just hold hands on the couch.
3. Get Out and Exercise
Check if your gym is open, or plan a time in the morning to exercise. Take 20 to 30 minutes to walk, run, do jumping jacks or practice yoga alongside with your favorite DVD. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you move for 30 minutes. Not only will you have energy for the day, you will feel good for the rest of the day. You have a better chance of exercising in the morning on Thanksgiving than you do later in the day.
4. Drink Up, Water, That Is
Now is no time to skimp on the water. Aim for the usual: eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. When traveling, pack along your favorite flavor enhanced water; it will be easier to resist the sugary drinks at the convenience store.
5. Veggie Sticks and Fruit
Whether you're preparing a plate for munching on before the big meal, or need a snack for the car ride, you can rely on veggies! Slice up some celery, carrots and zucchini. While preparing the side dishes, if you get hungry, munch on the healthy, butter-free vegetables.
6. Slow Down the Meal
You may already know that it takes the brain 20 minutes to know you're full, but are you putting that information to good use? Slow down your eating, and slow down the courses if you're the hostess. Enjoy the textures, flavors and the quality of each dish, rather than a quantity of food.
7. Walk It Off
The dishes can wait, but your body can't. After dinner, take a walk through your neighborhood, showing guests around. If you're the guest, it's the perfect excuse to explore your childhood neighborhood or to discover a brand new neighborhood. Make it a family affair, invite everyone, the kids, the aunts, the uncles, the grandparents and enjoy each the fresh air and each other's company.
8. Downsize Your Table Settings
Do you have a separate plate for bread, salad and the main course? Lose the extra plates and put food on one plate. Unless you serve your courses separately, then you need the extra plates.
9. Stock Up on Foil Containers
If you're the lucky hostess of this year's Thanksgiving dinner, stock up on disposable aluminum trays with tops. Buy a variety of sizes to hold leftover turkey, stuffing and desserts. When you send the bulk of the leftovers out the door, you won't be challenged to find yet another way to make that turkey tasty. By sending the heavy bread stuffing and rich creamy pies out the door, you won't be "stuck" having to eat them for the next week.
10. Serve Dessert Bites
Help yourself and guests engage in some self-control at the dessert table. Since it's usually the first few bites of sweet foods that taste the best, cut desserts into small portions. Consider making bite-sized squares or triangles of the desserts. This way you and your guests can try everything without the guilt, and without going overboard on calories and fat.