How To Have A Healthy Thanksgiving (6 Tips) Even if you're not hosting!
Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and food, and it's the perfect time to be thankful for your health and well-being, even if you're not feeling your healthiest. This holiday season, let's resolve to focus on our healthy habits and make taking care of our bodies a priority. For many of us, this may mean cutting back on processed ingredients and sugary drinks, getting more exercise, and getting enough sleep. For others, it may mean managing chronic health conditions or autoimmune diseases with care and compassion. Whatever our health goals may be, let's remember that taking care of our bodies is an act of self-care, and putting your health first, puts everyone in your family first.
6 Tips For A Healthy Thanksgiving:
Give yourself plenty of time to prepare - start cooking a few days in advance
One of the best ways to ensure a healthy Thanksgiving is to prepare a few days in advance. This gives you plenty of time to shop for healthy ingredients, review your recipes, and modify any family recipes so that your thanksgiving dinner menu is as healthy as possible. Reviewing the recipes ahead of time allows you an opportunity to meal prep for the big meal. What vegetables can be sliced or prepped early, and stored in the fridge until you're ready to cook them?
Many veggie side dishes can be prepared in advance and reheated on Thanksgiving day. Even if you're planning a more traditional Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey can cook the day before. On the day of, slice the turkey breast, reheat, and serve. If you have the space to start prepping the thanksgiving table early, why not do it the weekend before? Finding the perfect balance of meal planning, cooking, and decorating early can save you time, stress, and energy on Thanksgiving.
Choose healthy recipes that are low in sugar and saturated fat
For many people, Thanksgiving is a time to indulge in their favorite comfort foods. However, if you're looking to make healthier choices this season to support new or existing healthy eating goals and other healthy habits, there are plenty of delicious and healthier Thanksgiving recipes low in sugar and fat. Look for delicious healthy thanksgiving recipes featuring in-season fruits and vegetables like roasted brussels sprouts, sweet potato, wild rice, butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, apples, or roasted cauliflower.
Whether you're looking for a healthy Thanksgiving turkey or a thanksgiving side dish to bring to a potluck, there are plenty of healthy options. You can even enjoy healthy thanksgiving desserts! Instead of pumpkin pie, try pumpkin custard made with whole ingredients and not ultra-processed ingredients. Swap out apple pie for baked apples or pears. The options for healthy thanksgiving recipes are endless!
Serve plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
Set a new Thanksgiving tradition this year by shifting the focus to eating more plant-based this Thanksgiving with a vegetarian main or doubling down on eating more vegetables. After all, Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for the bounty of the harvest season. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber and make the best healthy thanksgiving side dishes!
You can find seasonal fall produce at your local farmers' market or grocery store. Thanksgiving side dishes don't have to be boring mashed potatoes. Consider making a salad featuring in-season leafy greens like beet greens, swiss chard, and kale. How about a rainbow lineup of roasted vegetables like beets, parsnips, turnips, carrots, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and cauliflower? Skip the traditional, highly processed fried french onion-topped green bean casserole dish for a delicious and lightened-up healthy green bean casserole using slivered almonds or crushed walnuts for the topping. Butternut squash soup makes an incredibly vibrant and healthy thanksgiving appetizer!
If you've jumped on the plant-based bandwagon (and there's nothing wrong with that!!), serve Stuffed Butternut Squash as the plant-based main. Depending on your filling, you'll enjoy eating stuffing like a traditional Thanksgiving menu and serving a complete protein.
Offering plenty of fresh fall fruits and vegetables is a great way to encourage everyone to eat healthier this Thanksgiving. Plus, thanks to the wide variety of in-season fall produce available, it's easy to create a tasty and healthy Thanksgiving dinner. Use healthy complimentary ingredients like olive oil, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, and other fresh herbs and seasonings to add flavor without adding sugar or saturated fats.
Drink Plenty of Water and avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol.
One of the most simple ingredients to encouraging healthy habits is drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary drinks and alcohol. Staying hydrated is essential for optimal health and will aid your digestion after eating your Thanksgiving meal. Drinking water can also help you feel fuller longer, so you're less likely to overeat.
If you're looking for a non-alcoholic substitute for your favorite cocktail, aka the mocktail, there are plenty of healthy options for fall flavors. Cranberry, pomegranate, beets, and apple cider are all excellent options for a tart and refreshing mocktail. You can even add a splash of sparkling water or seltzer to give it some extra fizz.
Processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol are all loaded with empty calories that can quickly add up. Not to mention, processed foods often contain unhealthy additives and preservatives. Instead, focus on eating fresh foods that are packed with healthy ingredients.
Avoid overeating by pacing yourself and eating slowly
Overeating is a common issue that plagues people of all shapes and sizes, especially on Thanksgiving. It's become ingrained into our society that we're excepted to clean our plates and go back for seconds, thirds, and more. When we overeat, our bodies can't properly digest our meals, leading to discomfort, bloating, and even abdominal pain. But overeating doesn't just affect our physical health—it can also take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being. Overeating can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, as well as body image issues. If this feels familiar, note that you are not alone in your struggles with overeating. Many people struggle with this issue, but there are ways to prevent it from happening.
One way to avoid overeating is to pace yourself when you eat. Eating slowly and mindfully can help you listen to your body's cues and stop eating when you're full. Additionally, avoid skipping meals because you know you're going to a big dinner later. Eating a light snack or meal beforehand can help prevent you from overeating later. Don't go for long periods of time without food. This can make you more likely to overeat when you finally do sit down for a meal. Make sure to eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day to keep your hunger at bay.
One of the best parts of the day is the Thanksgiving leftovers. After all the cooking and baking is done, you get to enjoy all those delicious dishes again. Portion out your leftovers and put them away in the fridge or freezer. This will help you rein in portion sizes at future meals. Sharing your leftovers with friends, family, or neighbors is also a good idea, have everyone bring some meal prep containers and fill them up! This way, you don't get bored eating the same thing over and over again and let it go to waste.
Get active - go for a walk, play some games, or do some exercises
After indulging in a big Thanksgiving feast, getting up and moving around a bit is important. Walking helps to promote digestion and can also help to regulate blood sugar levels. And what better way to enjoy the crisp autumn air than by taking a leisurely stroll with family or friends? If walking isn't your thing, there are plenty of other active options to choose from. You could play some yard games, like cornhole or frisbee.
If you're feeling competitive, why not start a tradition of a pre-thanksgiving meal football game, hike, or some other form of activity? I love hiking on holidays, it feels great to get outside and move before I head inside to eat and visit with family and friends. Movement and play help boost our wellness and can be a great way to connect with loved ones. There are endless possibilities for how to make the holidays healthier!
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to remind your family and friends to nourish their minds and bodies with all the wonderful bounty nature provides through food, movement, and play. Making small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being. Healthy habits cultivated during the holidays can last a lifetime.