Thanksgiving: food, family and the inevitable crushing guilt that comes after consuming twice your weight in turkey and stuffing. The average American consumes 4,500 calories and 224 grams of fat on Thanksgiving. Avoid a postmeal food coma and the unhealthy excess of turkey day with these seven tips for a more nutritious holiday.
1. Exercise in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is often far too full of food preparation and traveling to make time for adequate physical activity. Schedule exercise in the days before and after the holiday to maintain healthy levels of activity. The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention recommends exercising for at least two and a half hours per week. Skipping exercise on Thanksgiving Day won't matter, as long as time is made on other days that week.
2. Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast to save room and set aside calories for later in the day is common on Thanksgiving, but it doesn't work. Most people who do so end up overindulging later in much more unhealthy foods. The Pritkin Longevity Center and Spa recommends starting the day off with a meal like egg whites and vegetables to avoid overconsumption later in the day.
3. Swap ingredients. For those in charge of cooking, tweaking the ingredients will make fatty dishes healthier. Sausage stuffing can have up to 500 calories in a single cup. By using less meat, levels of fat and calories in the dish will drop significantly. Mashed potatoes, another signature staple, can rack up almost 400 calories in a serving. For the truly daring, swap out the potatoes for cauliflower. Or, to avoid a family revolt, use a mixture of milk and greek yogurt instead of heavy cream.
4. Bring a healthy dish. For those just visiting on Thanksgiving, bring a low-fat dish as a contribution. Adding just one healthy choice to the table can cut calorie consumption all around.
5. Chew slowly. It sounds obvious, but some people forget to savor their food, especially on Thanksgiving. Chewing slowly and for longer will make food taste better and make seconds a less enticing option.
6. Plan a turkey day activity. Get the guests active by planning something fun, like a pre-meal game of flag football of a post-dinner walk to take in the autumn scenery. Everyone will fill their quota of exercise while continuing to enjoy each others company on Thanksgiving.
7. Stay hydrated. Food gets the spotlight on Thanksgiving, but many overindulge in alcohol as well. Drinking a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage will maintain hydration, aid in digestion and help stop overconsumption.