Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, bringing with it lots of decadent foods. Even the most stringent dieters tend to slip around this time of year. And when you factor in all the additional stress, which causes your cortisol levels to rise and increase weight gain, it can be a challenge to maintain your health and fitness levels through the holidays.
But just because it’s challenging, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Healthy holiday eating is attainable, it just takes a little extra effort. Here are some healthy holiday tips to help you get through the season feeling your best.
Healthy Holiday Tips For Thanksgiving
Health and fitness go hand-in-hand with a nutritious diet. While it’s ideal to have them in balance at all times, the reality of life is that it is not always possible. Here are some healthy holiday tips for those times when your diet, health and fitness become imbalanced.
Walk It Off. After a big meal, try to get up and go on a long, brisk walk around the neighborhood before indulging in dessert. Walking has been shown to improve overall health and reduce the risk of developing chronic disease, so even 20 minutes could benefit your body. Consider making a post-dinner family walk a new holiday tradition in order to get the whole family involved in creating better health and fitness habits.
Eat A Little Beforehand. If you show up to a big event starving, you’re more likely to overindulge upon arrival. If you eat healthy fats and protein, like avocado toast, eggs, and grilled chicken, before attending a big dinner or holiday party you’ll be less likely to overeat once you get there. As an added bonus, healthy holiday eating before a party can also help prevent hangovers.
Plan A Workout. The holidays are a busy time of year, so schedule regular workouts into your calendar like you would any other commitment. If you preemptively set aside the time to workout around this time of year, you’ll be more likely to show up and exercise, especially after having some holiday fun. And if you’re feeling extra stressed, try to squeeze in an extra workout, as it helps to lower cortisol levels and boost your endorphins.
Stop Eating When You’re Full. This one sounds like a no-brainer, but many people tend to overdo it on Thanksgiving and at holiday parties through the New Year. If you know you like going back for seconds, then practice better portion control. Use a smaller plate for your entree, if possible, or make an effort to put less food on your plate.
Recipes For Healthy Holiday Eating
It can be very challenging to host a health-conscious Thanksgiving dinner, but these days there’s no reason you should have to sacrifice taste just because you’re watching your diet. Here are three traditional Thanksgiving dishes made healthier:
Green Bean Casserole: With the primary ingredient being green beans, this healthy holiday dish just needed a small tweak to inspire healthy holiday eating: simply swap out heavy creamy for low-fat milk instead.
Butternut Squash Soup: Perfect for this time of year and loaded with flavor, this soup is naturally low in calories and can be made without using cream.
Chipotle-Smashed Sweet Potatoes: Skip the sugary sweet potatoes toppings of brown sugar and marshmallows, and instead make a savory sweet potato mash that is also sure to be a crowd pleaser.
If you want to try making other favorite dishes healthier, simply cut down on the use of salt, sugar, and heavy cream. Instead, find ways to incorporate different herbs for more taste, fruit for added sweetness and low-fat milk or yogurt to replace the cream.
Be Grateful For Good Health
Since Thanksgiving is a time of reflection and gratitude, honor your good health this season. As something many of us often take for granted, good health is something that we have to be proactive about maintaining, especially as we age.
One last healthy holiday tip: if you or a loved one are struggling at home, experiencing falls, or are managing a chronic illness use this time of year to talk about the gift of a medical alert system. Investing in a medical alert device might not seem like something that should be part of a healthy holiday plan, but it may one day save your life.