How to Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving

November 19, 2018

Good food and great company gathered around a table – is there anything better? We love celebrating the holidays, and Thanksgiving is a wonderful reminder of all that we’re thankful for each year.

For some, however, the holidays bring added stress and anxiety. We often associate Thanksgiving with rich, sugary foods and overeating. Ever wonder where the term “food coma” came from? Many of us spend the majority of the holiday going back and forth between the kitchen and the couch. And while we all deserve to relax and spend time with the ones we love, it’s possible to approach Thanksgiving with a more mindful attitude. It’s true – you can celebrate Turkey Day in a guilt-free way.

One of our favorite parts of celebrating involves relationships, an area of what we at IIN call primary food – the things that nourish you off the plate. Surrounding yourself with the people most important to you can instantly boost your mood. It can be anyone – from family to friends to coworkers. Plus, we suggest you take it a step further by asking everyone to name at least one thing they’re thankful for this year. Show your gratitude and appreciation for those you love, and take a moment to realize how lucky you are to be there in that exact moment!

Apart from giving thanks, here are ten ways to head into the holidays with the right mind-set, so you never have to feel sluggish or guilty again.

1.     Continue your healthy routine.
If you already follow a healthy diet, continue doing so the week leading up to Thanksgiving. If you don’t normally have the best eating patterns, now’s a great time to start. Opt for clean, whole foods that nourish both your body and mind. Establishing a healthy routine will help you coast through Thanksgiving.

2.     Start Thanksgiving with physical activity.
Go for a run or take a brisk walk with your loved ones in the morning. By starting your day with movement, you’ll burn calories and have a more positive outlook on the day. If your morning will be consumed with cooking, try waking up just a little earlier to enjoy a bit of movement.

3.     Have a healthy breakfast.
Don’t skip breakfast with the mind-set that you can eat more later in the day. Saving calories for a bigger meal rarely works, and you spend more energy overindulging because you’re too hungry. After you finish exercising, eat a healthy, balanced breakfast, like oatmeal, eggs, or a smoothie.

4.     Pitch in.
If you aren’t hosting Thanksgiving, help out. You can offer to cook something, which is a big help to the host and ensures that no matter what is served, you’ll have a nutritious dish that meets your dietary needs. Offering to clean or do the dishes is another great way to pitch in – and it gets you moving!

5.     Divide your plate well.
Rather than piling your dish high with only one or two dish options, think about the Integrative Nutrition Plate, which includes fruits, whole grains, vegetables, protein, water, and fats and oils. While it might be difficult to get all six food groups on your plate, keeping it in mind can help you be intentional about your plate.

6.     Stay hydrated.
A common error when listening to your body’s hunger signals is mistaking thirst for hunger. When we’re dehydrated, we often consume more than we normally would. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and don’t forget to alternate between it and alcohol during dinner.

7.     Experiment with new recipes.
One of the best ways to control what goes into your mouth is to control what goes into the food itself. This Thanksgiving, look for new recipes that substitute traditional dishes with healthier alternatives. For instance, you can try swapping mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower and baked yams in syrup for sweet potatoes with cinnamon. You can always opt for Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or use some classic fall spices, like cloves and nutmeg, for extra flavor. And don’t forget about the veggies! Fall supplies ample seasonal vegetables to cook, including Brussels sprouts, squash, pumpkin, and green beans.

8.     Practice mindfulness.
We know portion control can be difficult, especially when there are so many options! But what’s even more important is avoiding mindless grazing. Don’t get stuck at the appetizer table or hover over the pumpkin pie during dessert. Be mindful of what you’re doing, move around the table, and if you choose to try something, enjoy it intentionally and truly savor it.

9.     Pace yourself.
Eat slowly and enjoy every bite of food. Take time to be thankful for what’s on your plate and don’t rush through the meal. Talk to your friends and family around the table; take a breather between bites. If you want to go for seconds, take some time between servings to tune in to your hunger levels.

10.  Keep moving.
After a large meal, your instinct might be to sit on the couch and put your feet up. However, moving your body will help stimulate your digestive system so you don’t feel tired or sluggish. If it’s too cold to go for a walk or play a quick game of football, help with the cleanup! You’ll feel better after moving for even just a few minutes.

Whether you plan to prioritize one or several of these tips to have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, make sure you still have fun.

At IIN, we’re thankful for our amazing community of Health Coaches who are improving the lives of people around the world each and every day. Thanks for being you and for sharing in our mission to create a ripple effect that transforms the world.

If you're interested in becoming an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, click here and talk with our Admissions Team today!

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