Staying Healthy on Thanksgiving

by Natalie on November 22, 2011

You may find yourself thinking, “it’s the holidays, I don’t care if I over-indulge ”. I admit, I have fallen into this thought process many times. Unfortunately this kind of self-talk gets us into trouble.

Eating too much at a holiday dinner seems harmless at the time, but those extra calories can contribute to weight gain that is difficult to lose later in life.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine determined the effect of holiday weight gain on adults. Among the 200 participants, researchers found a net average weight gain of only 1 pound. Not bad right? Wrong. Here’s the problem. When the subjects were followed for the remainder of the year, the holiday weight gain was not lost. I believe this study reveals some important insight into adult weight gain.

Imagine if you only gained 1 pound during the holidays every year for the next 10 years. In 10 years, you would be 10 pounds heavier! Maybe this is one of the reasons weight seems to creep up on us in mid-life?

It is important to be conscious about weight gain because overweight and obesity is a big risk factor for breast cancer and other cancers.

Don’t let the holidays weigh down on you (literally!). Here are some of my best tips to stay healthy on Thanksgiving.

  1.  Don’t skip all your other meals to “save up” for the big feast. By doing this, you will be more likely to overeat at your Thanksgiving dinner. The best thing to do is make your other meals on the lighter, more healthy side. I like to start my day with a light, healthy breakfast.
  2. Get some exercise – even if you only have 15 minutes. Morning may be best time for this because as the day gets busy it becomes more difficult to fit in your workout.
  3. Make water your main beverage. Sugary and/or alcoholic drinks contain a lot of hidden calories.
  4. Eat slowly. This will give your body more time for the satisfied feeling to kick in, which will stop you from going back for seconds.
  5. Keep sauces and gravies to a minimum.
  6. Fill half of your plate with green vegetables, a quarter of your plate with starch and the remaining quarter with turkey.
  7. Don’t worry about being perfect. You can only do the best you can with what you’ve got. Thanksgiving is a time to have fun, spend time with family, and enjoy good food. Don’t stress if your meal is not perfectly healthy. It is OK to indulge a bit, just don’t overdo it.

Final Turkey Day Thoughts

My favorite Thanksgiving foods are roasted brussels sprouts, stuffing and pumpkin pie. What are yours?

I hope you have a very happy and fun Thanksgiving!


The study from the New England Journal of Medicine


photo by: seriousbri

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