Thanksgiving is such an amazing time of the year. Family and friends come together to celebrate all that they have been blessed with and it usually involves an enormous amount of eating and drinking. Sounds like a great time, right? So what could possibly go wrong being around people you love, eating great food, and enjoying delicious spirits? Well, if you are on a special diet or recently joined a weight loss challenge, Thanksgiving can be downright catastrophic. It is not uncommon for people to report a weight gain of 3-5 pounds over the holiday celebrations, starting in the workplace and rounding out with friends and family. But, this doesn’t have to be your fate. With some pre-planning and a few tips, you don’t have to gain a single pound and who knows, you might even lose a couple instead.
Have a Plan for Meals
Start with a salad and some vegetables. Fill up on greens so you will have less space on your plate for the other indulgences. A nice light salad will give you a dose of fiber which helps you feel full.
Plan to Work Out on Thanksgiving Day
Get moving! Dance, cycle, run, lift weights, anything active counts. Even if you only work out for 30 minutes, you will feel great for the rest of the day. Many cities have special marathons and walkathons. Consider inviting your friends and family to join you. You might be surprised at how interested they are and you can recruit a large group. There are also plenty of apps to help you get a quick workout in. You can even just put on your favorite music and start doing push-ups and burpees.
Drink Plenty of Water
Before dinner, after dinner, during dinner and throughout the day, keep sipping! This will keep you full and hydrated. Spruce up the water with berries or citrus fruits to keep it interesting. Let’s face it. Water can be boring. Making it fancy can really boost its appeal.
Bring a Guilt-Free Dish
This can be something you love that you can reach for when you have the munchies. Place it on a fancy platter so that it looks good! Let others know it is healthy. You are bound to run into another person who is watching their weight or looking for a healthy item.
Weigh In and Log Your Calories
Knowledge is power. Many people travel and attend multiple gatherings over the course of the long weekend. Weigh in daily first thing in the morning starting the week of Thanksgiving. This gives you insight into your starting point. How can you reach a goal if you have no idea what you are striving to attain? Write your weight down. You are likely to have fluctuations but it still gives you a ballpark estimate. It is easy to see when you have to scale back a bit once you know how many calories you’ve eaten.
For full transparency, before I lost 70 pounds for the third time and successfully kept it off for over two years, I would always gain a minimum of five pounds around the Thanksgiving holidays. I had to celebrate with my southern family, which meant meals full of moist cornbread dressing, fried corn, collard greens, sweet potato pie, and peach cobbler and then finish off the weekend with my Jamaican in-laws complete with jerk chicken, oxtails, rice and peas, bread pudding, cocoa bread and Jamaican patties. I had no idea I was ingesting more than 4,000 calories a day. No wonder I was gaining weight!
Once I started logging my intake, I realized the error of my ways and got smarter. My meals became much smaller and I stopped eating as much or grazing all day long. Now, I still enjoy the delicious authentic food and convince both sides of my family to dance the night away. Last year, we hosted both sides of our families in our Atlanta home with southern cuisine, Jamaican food, and a famous DJ with an LED dance floor. This was the first time ever in my life that I actually lost a pound the day after Thanksgiving!
May you enjoy your precious loved ones, eat delicious food, and have incredible fun this year without any of the guilt. Happy Thanksgiving!