Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means the holiday season is about to kick into full gear! The festivities will be a bit different for many Americans this year, with many hosting smaller gatherings to adhere to social distancing guidelines. No matter how you are celebrating, it’s a day meant to be enjoyed and acknowledged with a hearty meal! After all, it’s been a year of uncertainty with more stress than usual for most, so the moments we have to be with our loved ones – even via Face Time – without other distractions should be celebrated.
But, between your actual Thanksgiving dinner and the many days of leftovers ahead comes the worry of falling off track with your healthy eating goals. Well, we have some good news! You can still enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving without any guilt by following some simple recommendations from Robert Dean, M.D., founder of AROmotion (and a personal fan of Thanksgiving dinner).
“The key to an overall healthy lifestyle is balance,” says Dr. Dean. “This means that you should indulge every now and then as long as you stay on track with your daily exercise and wellness routines. By following my simple tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving, you can still enjoy the day and not wake up the next day feeling guilty!”
Start Thanksgiving Day by Moving
When you know you have a day of hearty eating ahead of you, it’s best to start your day with some movement to burn calories and ramp up your metabolism. If it’s not too chilly where you live, a nice walk around the neighborhood to take in the color of the seasons is always nice. Or, if you have a regular exercise routine, try to squeeze it in early versus postponing it for later in the week. Not only will you feel less guilty throughout the day, but you will also have more energy to celebrate with your loved ones.
Avoid Heavy Appetizers
You know your meal is going to be filling, so if you are putting out appetizers be sure to go easy on the heavier ones like cream-based dips. Be sure to include lighter fare such as vegetable trays with hummus or whole-grain crackers with vegetable-based dips. (We love this smoky carrot dip recipe from Bon Appetit). For the sweet tooths in your group, you can try apple slices with a Greek-yogurt based dip like this one from Together as a Family. Remember, you want everyone to savor the meal you are preparing versus filling up too much on the apps to really enjoy it!
Balance Your Dinner Plate
When it comes time to fill your turkey day plate, be sure to balance your proteins and vegetables with carb-heavy dishes such as mashed potatoes or stuffing. You want to get a good taste of everything, but by starting with more of the lean turkey meat and vegetables you may be less likely to overdo it on the other sides. With this approach, not only will you feel less guilt but you are also likely to feel less sluggish after the meal. (And it will help you save room for dessert!)
Allow Yourself to Indulge
That said, remember that it’s OK to let go and indulge for one meal! As long as you get back on the right track tomorrow, you can forget counting your calories and simply enjoy the meal with your loved ones. Want to go back for seconds? Go ahead! But it’s recommended to wait at least 10 minutes after finishing your first plate to go back, so you can really assess how hungry you are before refilling your plate. (And again, don’t forget to save room for dessert!)
Plan Ahead with Healthy Leftover Recipes
While Thanksgiving leftovers often taste amazing the day after, the novelty will wear off after a couple of days. To mix things up, and to stay on track with healthy eating, it’s best to prepare ahead with some delicious yet healthy leftover recipes. It’s fun to get creative with things like soup or frittatas that will use up your leftovers while mixing things up! Need some inspiration? Here are some yummy ideas from Self to use up those leftovers.
Remember, you have a lot to be thankful for this season and this should be celebrated as you see fit! You don’t have to stress out over one meal, and with these tips from Dr. Dean you can indulge while still staying on track.
If you are living with knee, hip, or shoulder pain that is impacting your holiday celebrations, it may be time to set up a free consultation with Dr. Dean to see if you are a candidate for AROmotion, a non-surgical procedure that he developed to stop joint pain fast with lasting results. Just fill out the form below to get started!
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