How to Stay Healthy and Fit During the Thanksgiving Holiday

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Thanksgiving is a time of year in which it is easy to overeat and begin an unhealthy cycle that continues on through New Year’s Eve. Although eating plays a large part during the fall and winter holidays, this season doesn’t have to be a time to give up on healthy habits entirely.  Here are a couple of quick tips to stay fit and healthy over Thanksgiving while still eating some of the foods that you love.

Get Outside:  The weather is often wonderful in Austin at this time of year.  Since Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t take the entire day, this holiday is also a great time to get outside and go for a walk or a run with another family member or friend.  Or, challenge other members of the family to a game of freeze tag or flag football.  It will feel good to ‘earn’ the Thanksgiving meal.

Play a Game: Families often bond over meals during the holidays, but playing a game or doing another all-ages activity like a puzzle with a group is another great way of interacting before or after your Thanksgiving meal.

Eat in the Morning: People often skip breakfast on Thanksgiving Day in order to ‘save their appetite’ for dinner.  This isn’t the best idea for your health.  Avoiding food until the afternoon often leads to hunger and excess eating during the Thanksgiving meal.

Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is always important, and generally people do not do enough of it – particularly when the weather turns cooler.  Besides having a variety of negative health impacts, failing to drink enough water can spark hunger pangs. Try drinking several full glasses of water during the day on Thanksgiving so that your body does not mistake thirst for hunger.

Go Easy on Appetizers: It’s easy to get full on cheese and crackers or other savory and often fat-filled appetizers before dinner is even served. Make sure to save your appetite you’re your calorie consumption) for the big main meal!

Tips to Limit Overeating at Dinner:

  • Use a smaller plate: Research like this study shows that eating off of a smaller plate helps you to eat 22% fewer calories compared to using a larger plate.
  • Dim the lights: Studies like this one suggest that eating in softer light may lead to consuming less food.
  • Chew slowly: According to this study, fast eaters consumed 3 ounces of food per minute, while slow eaters only ate about 2 ounces per minute.
  • Beware of danger foods: Be careful of foods that may seem healthy, but actually aren’t. These can include green bean casserole, gratins, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. That does not mean to stay away from them entirely, but just to eat everything in moderation
  • Skip seconds: Wait about 20 minutes after your first course before piling your plate with seconds… This is roughly the amount of time that it takes to feel full.  If after 20 minutes you are really still hungry, go for a second round of smaller portions.  If you are full, save the leftovers and look forward to another meal at a later time.

Don’t Deny Dessert: The holidays are a time for celebration.  Don’t feel that you have to restrict yourself entirely from certain foods.  Simply try to enjoy the sweeter items in moderation.

Thanksgiving is a time for family and good cheer.  Best wishes to you and your family from the Symmetry Physical Therapy team!


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