This time of year is all about intention. You are thinking about what you’re thankful for, how to throw a great dinner, who you’re shopping for this Christmas, how this year has been, and how to go into the next one. With all these big thoughts circling in your head, don’t forget about also being intentional to stay on top of your health goals during the day-to-day. Learning to stay steady during busy periods and holiday seasons is important to your health because these seasons will come every year, and we cannot throw our routines and efforts out the window every time they roll around. Doing so creates a draining cycle of guilt and restarting, and we encourage you to make the holidays cater to your health instead of you catering to the holidays.
Planning ahead makes all the difference, so here are some tips to consider for how to have a healthy Thanksgiving to kick off a healthy holiday season!
1. Remember that food isn’t the main event.
If you think that Thanksgiving dinner revolves around food, then it’s easy to succumb to overeating for hours with loved ones. Shifting your focus from food to company will help you realize the many other ways to enjoy your time at holiday events. If your personal priority is experiencing the people who will be there, you can prepare for that. Have games ready for before and after dinner so you can be focused on beating your nephew at chess instead of the appetizers. Help and oversee the kids making thank-you cards for the chefs of the night to keep their hands (and yours) occupied with something inedible. Ask a few friends or family members ahead of time to go for a walk with you right after dinner so you’ll have company and an excuse to get up from the table when you’re full – and they’ll have their proper footwear. Think of who will be there and how you would best enjoy connecting with them in ways that don’t involve food, and then put your energy towards that.
Stay active during the holiday season with morning jogs.
2. Prepare to stay moving.
Like we mentioned in the first example, don’t do it alone! Look at your calendar for the upcoming month and make a fitness goal (or figure out how to keep up or adapt your current routine). You can set a goal to walk every day for 30 minutes, and book that time with yourself and/or with a family member. Pre-plan set activities with certain loved ones who also want to be healthy. Asking people ahead of time will help you stick to your plan and not have to worry about sitting on the couch because nobody took up your offer of a post-meal stroll. You will feel much more supported in your health goals if you have a partner in crime to go for a walk with you after dinner or to help you take the kids to the playground during meal prep. If your friends and family are more active, plan for a group activities like ice skating or bowling. We know it’s cold out, but company means you will have extra body heat!
3. Don’t treat it like a buffet.
Just like you can set a fitness goal that is tailored to your holiday season schedule, you can set a diet goal too. We’ve all been guilty of being so excited for the delicious food that we’ve refrained from eating during the day to “prepare our stomachs” for the feast, but you can prepare to eat well instead of eat a lot. It isn’t a crime to love food, but remember that it is more important to love your body. If you have high cholesterol, diabetes or any condition that requires you to watch your caloric and nutritional intake, it is extra crucial for you to find dietary boundaries that allow you to enjoy the food without compromising your health. One of the main reasons we overeat at Thanksgiving is because we load up a bit of everything until our plate is overflowing. We fill up our stomachs eating a bit of everything, and then figure out which items we prefer and go back for more of just those specific dishes. Just because there are 15 options doesn’t mean you have to try everything. Instead, choose 2-3 items that you think you’ll really enjoy and keep your portions smaller. Enjoy, and take care of yourself!
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