The Fit Feast: A Survival Guide for Your Plate On Thanksgiving

Fun, family, friends, and tryptophan-induced food snoozes—the Thanksgiving holiday is a national tradition that almost everyone can get behind. For our fitness friends, the holiday has become a sort of National Cheat Day, or the annual day that everyone stuffs their bellies in a celebration of thanks. While the food is phenomenal, and the company may be fun, overeating is all too common, and can be detrimental to your diet.

This year, following these four tips will help you construct the perfect plate for your fit Thanksgiving feast:

Eyes on the Prize

While the mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, and assortment of pies may sound, look, and smell tempting, ingesting large amounts of food in a short time can cause serious damage to your health and fitness regimen. Overeating with little energy exertion could set you back days, even weeks. [4]

Home cooking makes it easier for your “eyes to be larger than your stomach.” Limiting the amount of food that you eat is the best way to reduce calories. This Thanksgiving, try reducing your portion size for each dish. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full, so to avoid overeating, start slow. Not to mention, you’ll have more amazing leftovers for meal prep in the coming week!

Preparing Your Feast: Eat This

The best eating habit you can adopt for this holiday is filling up on veggies (saving the best dishes for last, of course). Roasted vegetables are a classic Thanksgiving dish, so jump-start your metabolism with some fiber-rich veggies before digging into the rest.

We all know what happens when family comes together—arguments are as inevitable as hugs! A recent study was released that states eating more vegetables actually increases a person’s overall mood. Not only will vegetables fill you up and keep your plate healthy, they could improve the atmosphere at the table as well. [3] So skip the roll and dollop on a second helping of cranberry sauce this year.

Yes, you can load your plate with the main dish, turkey. The traditional bird is naturally low in fat and high in protein, meaning it will keep your metabolism charged while fueling lean muscle growth. Just a 5-­‐‑ounce serving provides almost half of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid, and is a great source of vitamins B, B1, B6, zinc and potassium. [1] These nutrients have been found to lower cholesterol, protect against cancer and heart disease, aid in nerve function and growth, boost the immune system, sregulate blood pressure, and assist in healing processes.

Finishing Your Feast: Don’t Eat That

This may be the most painful part of the article to read, but the benefits of limiting carbs, saturated fat, and sugar in your meal will significantly lower the number of calories you eat.

Stuffing and buttered rolls are two of the most calorie-­‐‑loaded side dishes served on Thanksgiving. If you can’t go without, we suggest the roll with a bit of butter.It will set you back 140 calories and 4.5 g fat, versus the 371 calories and 19 g of fat you would ingest with a ¾ cup of stuffing. [5]

Another Thanksgiving staple, mashed potatoes, sadly makes the “avoid” list for a Fit Feast. A traditional serving of spuds can have about 400 calories, and the starchy vegetable will fill you up faster than you can say, “pass the gravy.” If you must have potatoes, save them for last!

While many people argue for the benefits of butter, on a day of high calorie intake, butter is not necessary. The high fat, sodium, and calorie amounts all contribute to why you should limit the buttery spread on your rolls and potatoes.

Don’t Drink Extra Calories

So you decide to take an extra scoop of mashed potatoes, a roll, or some stuffing…we can’t blame you. It’s Thanksgiving, and it only comes once a year. For those unable to steer away from a full feast, our number one tip is to keep yourself thoroughly hydrated. Drinking water before, during, and after the enormous meal can speed up both metabolic rate and digestion.

Going one step further, replacing the alcohol or sugar-rich drinks with water can substantially reduce your Thanksgiving calorie count. Drinking sugary cocktails, beer, or sodas can skyrocket your caloric intake—something you can’t afford on your stomach’s fullest day of the year.

Thanksgiving and the holiday season are big obstacles for anyone trying stick to their health and fitness goals. Making smart, healthy choices does not mean you must make awful sacrifices. Reducing the portion size, filling up on veggies, and skipping the butter are all small things that can make for a big change.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] hniques/best_worst_thanksgiving_foods