Contrary to popular belief, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be the gut-busting, coma-inducing feast day that we’ve always thought it to be. Yes, it’s a day to indulge a bit and celebrate the good things in life with friends and family—but it can also still be a relatively healthy occasion. Here are a few pointers that can help make turkey day more manageable and less of a setback.
1. Eat Breakfast
While you may want to save as much room as possible for the big family meal, skipping breakfast can lead to over-indulging. Starting the day with a small meal, even just a slice of whole wheat toast and piece of fruit, can allow you to keep more control and make better choices throughout the day.
2. Substitute When You Can
Look through your recipes and find ingredients that can be swapped out for healthier options. Make the gravy with low-fat chicken stock, or swap out sour cream for Greek yogurt. All those calories will add up when you make little changes in every dish, but the flavors can be just as delicious!
3. Practice Portion Control
It’s hard not to load up your plate when there are so many delicious options, but the key is not to overdo it. Help yourself to a small portion of everything the first time through the buffet, and then wait a few minutes once you’re done eating before you go back for seconds. You may find yourself feeling fuller and won’t be as tempted for seconds.
4. Stay Active
Whether it’s a run first thing in the morning, or a walk around the neighborhood after dinner, be sure to do something active on Thanksgiving. Endorphins will help you feel less snackish and sluggish, and will help to offset some of the extra calories you’ll inevitable consume. It’s also a great way to spend some more quality time with family—or to find peaceful solitude if the family activities become a little overwhelming.
5. Rethink Dessert
Desserts don’t have to be rich and full of calories. Try cutting back on the amount of sugar used in the recipe, or using a sugar substitute instead. You can also try a simple dessert of fruit in place of the traditional smorgasbord of pies and cheesecakes.