I’m not even going to tell you roughly how many calories are in a Thanksgiving dinner. I can’t bring myself to insult such a perfect meal. I mean really, is there anything better than turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie – all on one plate?!
Back to reality. Here’s the lo-down: Don’t stress. Enjoy your holiday. REALLY enjoy it! And try these 10 (fairly simple) tips for a healthy Thanksgiving to avoid a little of that lovely post-dinner coma.
Healthy(er) Thanksgiving Tips for a Bloat-Free Holiday
1. Don’t skip meals all day.
I know what you’re thinking. You wanna starve yourself all day so you can “make room” for Thanksgiving dinner, but no. That’s not how it works, unless you enjoy binge-eating and feeling like crap afterwards!
Start your day with a light breakfast (at least a protein shake or an egg with a piece of sprouted wheat toast) and continue with a few small meals throughout the day. Doing so will kickstart your metabolism and make dinner less overwhelming for the body to digest.
2. Be active!
Get outside and throw the football around, or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, run a 5k first thing in the morning! (Yeah, Turkey Trotters! Find local race info here.) Minimally, go for a walk after dinner. If you burn up the calories you eat, weight gain is a no-issue.
3. Eat your greens.
Don’t forget to eat vegetables; throughout the day, before and after dinner. Vegetables are loaded with essential minerals and fiber, all of which will keep your body happy and your digestion “regular” if you know what I mean.
4. Cut corners here and there.
For me, healthy eating is all about making realistic lifestyle choices and cutting corners where you can (calorically speaking) to avoid excessive sugar/bad fat/bad carb intake. Try some healthy alternatives:
- Use coconut oil instead of butter or vegetable oil.
- Add veggies and herbs/spices for flavor instead of loads of salt.
- Substitute butter or sour cream with plain, low-fat Greek yogurt.
- Use coconut sugar or stevia instead of refined sugar, or cut out the sugar altogether (cranberry sauce doesn’t even need it!)
I absolutely love my digestive enzymes by Enzymedica, available at most health food or vitamin stores. Give your body a hand by popping a couple before your meal. Doing so will help your digestive system to prepare for and tackle this larger-than-life meal a little easier.
6. Skip the alcohol.
Alcohol is empty calories. There, I said it. If you desperately need that glass of wine with your dinner, then go for it. But skip it, and you earn yourself a free piece of pie! My personal MO is generally never to waste my precious calories on things I don’t really love.
7. Do: Home made!
If you have regular dietary guidelines you follow (i.e.: no dairy, gluten free, low sodium, etc.), stick to home-made classics. Store-bought pies and pre-packaged stuffing mixes are loaded with sugar, salt and all kinds of bloaty fillers. Home made treats are always best – and much more fun!
8. Don’t: Eat yourself to death.
It’s all about portion control. Oh, and chewing before you swallow instead of just food inhalation. Yes, it’s easy to go bananas. You want to have a giant plate, and another. And some pie. And more pie! I’m the QUEEN of having eyes bigger than my stomach. But the truth is, that food isn’t going anywhere – in fact, it will still be there tomorrow.
You don’t have to deny yourself anything. Just start off slow with small portions, and chew, chew, chew to activate your body’s natural enzymes. If you’re still hungry, go back for more a little more. Not only will this help you avoid the bloat, but your body and digestive system will thank you for it.
9. Eat earlier in the day.
Give yourself time to burn off the calories from dinner by eating earlier in the day. Try not to eat anything else past about 7:00pm, or three hours before bed time.
Don’t stress. Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks and spending time with loved ones. If you over eat a little, who cares!? Enjoy the holiday season! Plan a workout for the following day. Tomorrow is always fresh!
Bonus Anti-Bloat Remedy
Maybe you already drink lemon water at every meal, maybe you don’t; but drinking warm water with the juice of half a lemon is something I do every morning to start off the day. This not only aids digestion, but alkalizes your body (what the heck is that?? Great explanation here.) Drinking lemon water can also…
- Keep you regular
- Detox your system
- Lessen junk food cravings
- Help with troubled skin
(Note: To avoid excessive wear on the enamel of your teeth, rinse your mouth out with plain water after you drink your lemon water. A little tip from my dentist!)