What kind of effect does that rebellious, chow-down tendency we have on Thanksgiving, really have on our bodies?
Is it ok to give ourselves a pass for just one day?
The short answer is, it IS ok to be a little loose with the rules on Thanksgiving, but forgetting them entirely can lead to trouble.
Let's look at the REAL price we pay for a huge Thanksgiving meal and 9 tips on how to stay healthy while still having fun this year.
The effect on our bodies
The average American consumes 2,715 calories in just the one Thanksgiving meal sitting.
For most, that's more than the recommended amount of calories for an ENTIRE day. For some, it's DOUBLE.
The amount of calories recommended for women is between 1,600-2,400 and for men, it's between 2,000-3,000.
According to Healthline, this influx of calories and fat puts a real strain on our bodies. It can cause huge blood level spikes, trigger an insulin-release into the pancreas, cause inflammation and actually increases heart attack risk 26 hours post-meal. Not to mention, people weigh approximately 0.5 percent more, 10 days after Christmas than 10 days before. Geeeeeeeeze... (Sorry for all of this terrible news)
So what are you supposed to do when your mother is forcing seconds of macaroni and cheese onto your plate and your sister is pouring you a 4th glass of wine?
I'm not saying that staying healthy on Thanksgiving is easy, but it IS totally doable and doesn't have to ruin your day. If you plan ahead a little, then you can spend Black Friday hitting the sales and trying on clothes instead of nursing a hangover while laying on your couch with your jeans unbuttoned.
8-Step Strategy to a healthy (enough) Thanksgiving
Step 1: Eat breakfast
Eat a healthy breakfast packed with protein. Eggs, yogurt, a smoothie...Anything that will help you avoid a blood sugar crash later in the day, conveniently right when the meal's about to start.
Step 2: Exercise
Try to sign up for a race or fun exercise event on Thanksgiving (that way you’re forced to do it). Exercise ALWAYS helps you control portions and cravings, not to mention all those feel-good chemicals help you not focus so much on food.
Step 3: Hydrate
Drink tons of water throughout the day, ESPECIALLY if you'll be doing some drinking. Dehydration and hunger can be really easily confused, so make sure to keep that water bottle glued to your hand all day.
Step 4: Position yourself
Before the meal starts, make sure to casually tell some family that you want to avoid last year's fiasco of over-doing it and feeling sick. You want to feel good tonight and tomorrow for all of the upcoming activities. They wouldn't want you to feel crappy, would they?!
Step 5: Easy on the apps
Standing around, eating appetizers before the meal can make things go south fast. It's hard to keep track of how much you've eaten and most of the consuming is mindless. Have a plan to take two bites of each app and cut yourself off after that.
Step 6: Make a great plate
It’s common for Thanksgiving cooks to take some would-be healthy foods and make them kind of terribly unhealthy. Be honest with yourself about that sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top - that doesn’t count as just eating sweet potatoes.
Start by filling your plate with non-casserole items like turkey, cranberries and green beans. Eat this course first, then go for some lighter portions of cream-heavy casseroles and starches like pasta and mashed potatoes.
Step 7: Eat (a little) dessert
Your aunt would probably be horrified if you skipped her pumpkin pie, so don't. Just make sure to eat only a few bites (you've almost completely survived now!!!)
This step is EXTREMELY important for your dental health. Your teeth just got pounded with sugar and need to be cleaned as soon as possible. Plus after your teeth are brushed, you won’t be nearly as tempted by your dad’s 9 pm invitation to raid the kitchen. You’ve come too far to mess this up!
You’re in the home stretch now! (AND you've already brushed your teeth)
Step 8: Feel incredible on Friday!
You did it! You had a blast, splurged a little, and didn't lose the battle to a 3,000 calorie gorge! I'm so proud of you. Now time to start planning for Christmas and New Year's Eve because those holidays are STILL comin'...