Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year. It’s a time where family and friends come together to celebrate all that they’re thankful for. Besides pearly smiles, cramp-inducing laughter, and stories from your childhood, usually gathered at the table are some of your family’s traditional dishes.
During the holidays we all want to indulge a little bit, but still be able to slay our New Year’s Eve outfits. For most people, the first holiday meal of the season that breaks their diet is Thanksgiving. In fact, according to the Calorie Control Council, a holiday dinner can be over 3,000 calories (and that’s not even including appetizers or drinks).
Friends that I’ve talked to try to stick to 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day, so if you ask me, 3,000 calories for just one meal alone is enough to completely break a diet.
But you can’t just be eating quinoa and tofu while the rest of your family enjoys Thanksgiving dinner. Well, you could, but you might insult some relatives who worked hard to prepare a nice meal.
Luckily, I have a few solutions to help keep your calorie count lower. However, before I get into my tips, I want to remind you all that I am in no way a nutritionist or health professional. If you’re looking for a professional’s opinion, you won’t find it here. These are just my personal tips and tricks! So as long as we’re clear on that, you can keep reading…
Don’t Skip Breakfast
For whatever reason, I always hear people talking about not eating the night before or morning of Thanksgiving in order to “save” their calories. Now, I’m typically not a breakfast eater (I usually have a cup of coffee in the morning and don’t eat my first meal until around noon), so this might sound a little out of character for me to say, but make sure to eat breakfast the morning of Thanksgiving.
This doesn’t mean to have pancakes, hash browns, and all of the typical breakfast foods that might come to mind. I'm talking about having a light breakfast to tide you over. A small bowl of fruit and yogurt, or even a small protein shake would be my recommendation.
Why is this important? Two main reasons:
Skipping meals could make you eat more than you typically would (or binge).
No one likes to be around a hangry person.
Don’t Drink Your Calories
The only drink I would recommend having for Thanksgiving dinner is water. Water is so good for you and has so many benefits, in addition to boosting your metabolism and being calorie-free. Drinking soda/pop, juices, beer, wine, etc. just add in unnecessary calories to your meal and don’t give off any benefits in return. Sure, having a glass of wine might get you feeling a little relaxed, but in 3 hours it’ll wear off and you would have just wasted calories anyway.
As someone who rarely drinks, this concept isn’t hard for me to swallow, but I understand if it’s a challenge for some. Like I mentioned earlier, these are simply just my tips, you don’t have to follow them if you don’t want to.
Skip or Limit the Appetizers
I love to snack. Baby carrots, celery, broccoli, dips, etc. are usually where my weaknesses are. However, even for me during the holidays, I have to remind myself to either limit appetizers or skip them all together. For this tip, I’m not going to suggest that you count how many of each appetizer you have, but to simply make one small plate of the appetizers you really want, and that’s it. No seconds on appetizers. Not only will limiting your appetizer intake (or skipping them all together) help reduce calories in the long run, but it’ll ensure that you don’t fill up on snacks and have no room for the main course.
Keep on Passing the Gravy (Butter, Sauces, & Dressings)
One really easy way to reduce calories during the holidays is to skip any gravy, butter, sauces, and dressings. Though some add-on’s (as we’ll call them right now) are lower in calories than others, skipping all of them as a whole will hopefully reduce any temptation to take some “just for this one” dish on your plate.
I promise, dinner rolls don’t taste horrible if you skip the butter.
Come With Stories
If skipping or limiting foods really isn’t your thing, I totally understand. That’s why I feel as though this tip is perfect for everyone. When you come to dinner with a few stories or memories to share, not only will you be sharing parts of your life even more so with loved ones and be having an enjoyable conversation, but you’ll have a chance to slow yourself down while eating.
Precision Nutrition wrote a piece about the benefits of eating slowly. Some of the benefits that were mentioned included giving your body time to realize that you are full, improving digestion, and eating less. You can read the whole article if you click here!
Help Clear the Table
Personally, I like clearing the table, getting everything into storage containers, and putting dishes in the dishwasher. I don’t know if that’s weird, but I really like doing it. If you don’t help out with this step already, I suggest stepping up to the plate.
By physically getting up from the table, you are literally removing yourself away from the temptation of going back for addition servings. Packaging up the leftovers are almost a secondary way of reducing temptation as well in my opinion.
If anything, I feel like this is more of a visual/physical tip than anything. Again, I’m not a professional, so there could be no real evidence of if this actually helps, but I know it works for me, so I figured I’d share it!
As I mentioned earlier, I am not a professional or nutritionist. I don’t know your needs and I didn’t go to college for anything health related. All I know is basics that I learned with my own research, conversations I’ve had with people, my own personal experiences, and articles I’ve read on Google. With that being said, I do hope that all (or even some!) of these tips help you this Thanksgiving. I know that the holidays are oftentimes when people really want to indulge without gaining weight, so I wrote this to help encourage those of you who are looking for tiny tricks and tips to help keep you on your lifestyle paths.
If you all have any questions, please let me know! I plan on writing a ton more posts for the holiday season, so if there are any topics in particular you would like me to cover, feel free to send me and email or a DM on Instagram! Happy Thanksgiving!
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