The 3-Day Post-Thanksgiving Recovery Diet

Overate? Get Back in Skinny Jeans by Monday!Overate? Get Back in Skinny Jeans by Monday!Yup, it's officially an "elastic waistband Friday" for most Americans after eating just a little too much of everything in sight last night at Thanksgiving dinner. And while you probably feel bloated and guilty for overindulging, there's no reason to overeat the rest of the weekend--or throughout the holiday season. Use our simple 3-day action plan to undo the calorie damage and make a fresh start. We tell you what to eat, when to eat, how to bump up calorie burn--and give you the motivational tools you need to get back on track fast. Here's everything you need to get back in your skinny jeans by Monday!

More: How to Lose Weight All Day Long


Day 1: 7 AM

Like many of us, you may have woken up feeling fat, bloated, and mad at yourself for overdoing it while celebrating the holidays.

What to do: Stop beating yourself up.
"The first thing I would tell people is not to be your own worst enemy, not to be super critical," says clinical psychologist Nancy Molitor, PhD, public education coordinator for the American Psychological Association. "When you turn on yourself, it's not the food, it's you that you're battling. Admit you overdid it and be honest, but recognize that you're human."

Positive mantra: Yesterday was a challenging day. I can make a fresh start.

Day 1: 8 AM
Whatever you do, don't skip breakfast because that could set you up for overeating later in the day, says Andrea Spivack, RD, LDN, medical nutrition therapist at the Stunkard Weight Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

What to do: Fix a healthy morning meal.

A filling, well-balanced breakfast like this one has only 407 calories:
· Pour 1 c Kashi Go-Lean cereal into a bowl
· Top with 1 c blueberries (frozen is just as good as fresh)
· Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp walnuts
· Add 1 c low-fat or fat-free milk

Or, try these other breakfast options in 10 Flat Belly Morning Meals.

Day 1: 9:30 AM

Now that your day is underway, you may be telling yourself, I need to drop a few pounds so I'll watch what I eat this week. But a general wish isn't likely to give you the results you desire. Molitor recommends setting a reasonable, concrete goal and creating a plan that will help you reach it. Be sure to write down your goals--it'll make you more likely to commit to them.

What to do: Aim to lose 1 pound in the next week.

To do that you'll have to reduce your daily calorie intake by 200 to 300 calories and burn off 200 to 300 calories a day for an average weekly deficit of 3,500 calories, says David B. Sarwer, PhD, clinical psychologist and director of the Stunkard Weight Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

If you usually exercise 3 days a week, add an extra day. If you're not a regular exerciser, then try to walk for at least 5 minutes, 3 times a day to start. It's okay to start small; any little movement adds up to calories burned. (Find the routine that works best for you in our Top Walk-Run Workouts for Weight Loss.)

Positive mantra: I'll take this one day at a time.

Day 1: Noon

Eat a lunch packed with feel-full veggies and satisfying protein. Try this recipe below to start.

Mediterranean Wrap
· 1 lg whole wheat tortilla
· 2 Tbsp garlic-flavored hummus
· 1/4 c roasted red pepper strips
· 4 slices roast turkey breast (or low-sodium deli turkey)
· 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
· 1/4 c lettuce

1. Lay tortilla flat on large cutting board. Spoon hummus evenly over tortilla to within 1/2" of edge. Lay peppers evenly over hummus. Layer on turkey slices. Sprinkle with mint. Layer on lettuce leaves. Fold in sides and then roll to form wrap. Cut diagonally in half.
2. Serve immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Total calories: 323

BEWARE! Avoid the Top Weight Loss Mistakes Healthy Women Make.

Day 1: 1:30 PM
This is a good time to start logging your food calories in a journal or online diary.

What to do: Write down what you're eating.

Starting a food diary is a research-proven weight loss technique. If you've never kept a food journal before, click on the link below to try Prevention's free My Health Tracker tool and start logging food calories and portions. If you have logged food calories before, start again to track what you're eating and how much.

Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, PhD, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says keeping a food diary helps you get back to being accountable. "It raises awareness and gets you focused on eating healthier foods."

Positive mantra: I overate for a day or two and am getting back to my healthier habits.

Day 1: 3:30 PM

You might be feeling midafternoon hunger pangs and eyeing that leftover pumpkin pie in the fridge. Before you reach for a slice, take a deep breath and assess what your body needs.

What to do: Keep hunger under control.

Drink a glass of water and wait about 10 minutes to determine if you are truly hungry. It's easy to mistake hunger for thirst, notes Dee Sandquist, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
If you are still hungry, have a small snack. Research has shown that eating regular meals or snacks (like any of our 22 Low-Calorie Snack Ideas) every 3 to 4 hours can keep you from overeating.

Day 1: 6:30 PM
A healthy dinner doesn't mean you have to slave in the kitchen for hours. This easy recipe is ready in less than 10 minutes.

Personal Pizza


· Top 1 toasted whole wheat pita with 1/2 c chopped tomatoes, 1/4 c shredded part-skim mozzarella, 1/2 c grilled chicken breast, and 1/4 c chopped sun-dried tomatoes
· Sprinkle with minced garlic and oregano
· Place under oven broiler until bubbly

Total calories: 396

Day 1: 7 PM

If you didn't get any exercise today, go for a 10-minute walk after dinner. Walking after eating can help relieve belly bloat. Plus, follow these 11 Ways to Prevent Bloat to keep your belly under control.

Day 1: 10 PM
This can be a dangerous time for late-night snackers who reach for food out of boredom, emotion, or exhaustion. You can avoid the temptation altogether by brushing your teeth and hitting the sack!

What to do: Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do to get back on track after overeating, says Sandquist.

Research shows there are links between inadequate sleep and obesity. A study from Case Western Reserve University of about 68,000 middle-age women found that those who slept 5 or fewer hours were 32% more likely to experience major weight gain, and 15% more likely to become obese, than those who slept an average of 7 hours. In fact, sleeping impacts weight loss so much that you can even Burn More Calories While You Sleep!

Positive mantra: I'm committing to taking care of myself and my health -- I'm worth it!

Day 2: 7 AM
Assess the "damage." If you didn't weigh yourself yesterday, do so first thing this morning and write down your weight for accountability. Weigh yourself once a week at the same day and time for more accurate results.

What to do: Get on the scale.

Gazzaniga-Moloo recommends doing this within 2 days of the overeating episode so you can face the facts and move on.

"The USDA recommends that we eat about 2,000 calories a day," says Sarwer. "On Thanksgiving, people can eat well over 3,000 calories, maybe even 4,000 calories. If you ate 4,000 calories that only adds up to a half-pound of weight."

If the scale says you gained more than half a pound, don't let the numbers ruin your day. Your weight can vary from day to day--even hour to hour. You could be retaining fluids from eating salty foods over the weekend. (Related: How to Make Friends With Your Scale)

Positive mantra: Sometimes I do things and have to be accountable for them later. I'm back in control.

Day 2: 8 AM
Remember, don't skip breakfast! If you don't like to eat first thing in the morning, just start off with a piece of fruit and have something more substantial, like oatmeal with milk, an hour or so later. If you wait for lunch to eat, your hunger will overrule your willpower and you'll be less likely to make healthy choices.

Day 2: 9 AM
As part of your diet reboot, you'll need to commit to making exercise a regular part of your daily schedule.

What to do: Make an exercise pact with yourself.
Exercising within a day or two of overeating will help refocus you on your healthy lifestyle plan, says Gazzaniga-Moloo.

Make sure your fitness schedule involves activities you love to do--like walking, dancing, or ice skating--and tell someone about your plan, says Molitor. You'll be more likely to stick to your workout if you enjoy it and have someone else holding you accountable. Better yet, work out with a buddy!

Day 2: 11 AM
Positive self-talk can help you stay on track and reach your goals. Post motivational messages in plain sight to stay focused.

What to do: Surround yourself with encouragement.
Post inspirational photos around your workspace, in your car, and on your home fridge. Tape a message like "I can do it!" to the back of your cell phone or set up your computer's screen saver with a favorite quote.

Positive mantra: This is a courageous thing I'm doing. I am mature and responsible. I have the ability to control what I eat.


Day 2: 12:30 PM

Eat meals around the same time each day. Sandquist says eating at regular mealtimes will keep you from getting too hungry.

See 9 low-cost healthy sandwiches

Day 2: 3:30 PM
Fix a snack that will help flatten your belly. Research shows that eating a meal with a serving of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) can help fight belly fat. MUFAs are the good-for-you fats found in avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, dark chocolate, and olives.

Cheese and crackers snack:

· Pair 1 light or low-fat string cheese with 8 sm whole wheat crackers and 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds.
· Have with 1 apple

Total calories: 389

6 Ways to Stop Overeating


Day 2: 5:30 PM
Squeeze in 10 minutes of walking before or after dinner.

Day 2: 6:30 PM

Eat slowly to make your meal last longer. Research shows the more chewing you do, the more nutrients your body absorbs.

Salmon and spinach dinner:
· Sauté a 4 oz piece of salmon
· Cook 2 c raw spinach sautéed with 1 crushed garlic clove in 1 tsp peanut oil
· Pair with 2/3 c cooked brown rice

Total calories: 441

Day 2: 8 PM
You're doing a great job of eating healthfully, but don't make it any harder on yourself

What to do: Rid kitchen of temptations.
You've committed to a healthy eating plan; now get junk food and leftover pumpkin pie out of sight! "When the foods are in the house it's easier, to eat them," says Spivack. Instead, stock your kitchen with these 17 Gadgets That Help You Lose Weight.

Don't stop after day 2--read the rest of this post-Thanksgiving recovery plan on Prevention.com for day 3's diet tips!

--Diana Kelly, Prevention

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