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Thanksgiving Day Health Hacks

BE ACTIVE

Thanksgiving is a day known for inactivity; a free pass to stuff yourself and watch football all day. Don’t throw your health goals and wellness out the window to be followed by guilt and regret the next day.

  • Start your morning with a walk to kick start your metabolism.  Twenty minutes of physical activity can boost your metabolism, decrease stress, and increase your energy level (20 minutes is only 1.4% of your day… you can fit that in, right?)
  • Play! Play with kids, your friends, family, neighbors- anyone and everyone. Resist the urge to pop in a movie or focus only on football.  Start the tradition of a flag-football game, tag, or even a leisurely game of bocce ball.  Do your best to stay standing and moving as much as you can- you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make in keeping your energy levels up and your metabolism moving. Join in on the fun to optimize time with your family and reap the benefits of the activity.
  • Look into locally sponsored activities such as a bike ride or the increasingly popular “Turkey Trott”. You can always register the morning of, and this is a great way to get active and burn some serious calories long before you need to worry about getting started in the kitchen. You’ll feel more energized and excited for the day knowing you put yourself and your health first!

DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST

While you might think it makes sense to save up calories for the big meal, eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite.

  • Start your day with a small but satisfying breakfast — such as an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast or oatmeal. This way you won’t be starving when its time to dish up so you won’t over-fill your plate or your belly.
  • Eating a nutritious meal with protein and fiber before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices. If you do indulge in pre-dinner snacks, enjoy them slowly and mindfully. You’ll be less likely to eat too much and feel full once you start your actual Thanksgiving meal.

HYDRATE

Your body can often mistake dehydration for hunger, causing you to consume more calories than your body needs.

  • Drink calorie-free water to help feel satiated and keep you hydrated.
  • Avoid extra calories in sodas and holiday beverages. These are sneaky, as many of us forget that one drink can contain the same amount of calories as a small meal! Enjoy yourself responsibly, and set a limit for drinks which can add significantly to your holiday calorie count.
  • Avoid caffeine which will dehydrate your body.
    If you must have a coffee, keep it simple and have a small cup of black coffee with no sugar or just a splash of dairy-free milk. Avoid the flavored coffees, and if you just have to have your preferred fancy coffee beverage, request half the usual syrup or flavored powder to keep both the calorie count down and the side effects that all the sugar and chemicals can have on your body and mind.

COOKING TIPS AND TRICKS

Whether hosting Thanksgiving or bringing a dish, you can cut calories, fat, salt, and sugar without cutting taste!

  • Use low-sodium chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy rather than salty seasonings.
  • Use fruit purees, such as apple sauce, instead of vegetable oil in baked goods- this will increase the fiber, too, which helps us feel fuller longer while encouraging healthy digestion!
  • Practice portion control when using oil and butter. Remember, a proper serving of fats (oil, butter, cheese, etc.) is about 2 Tbsps or roughly the size of your thumb for hard cheeses.
  • Try plain Greek yogurt in place of heavy creams and sour cream in dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.
  • Use plenty of organic herbs and spices to flavor side dishes rather than lots of salt and pre-made packets of seasonings (these tend to have lots of additives and even sugar!).
  • Roast or bake as many dishes as possible to avoid frying in unhealthy oils.
  • Add fresh veggies to your hors d’oeuvres instead of just bread and crackers. Fresh cut cucumber, carrot, zucchini, celery, apple, broccoli, cauliflower, and jicama are great options for pairing with dips (like hummus which is full of protein and fiber to keep you satiated until dinner time) and make a great addition to any cheese or charcuterie board!

Enjoy the holiday, and most importantly don’t stress. Be mindful and do your best to make healthy decisions and remember what the Holiday is all about: Giving thanks to everything you have and spending time with your loved ones.

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