It’s no accident that the annual feasting celebration falls in, well, fall. There was a time when it was necessary to overeat and pack on the pounds to get through a tough winter. The tradition of gathering with friends and family to give thanks each November has persisted, of course, for many really wonderful reasons. As has the tradition of overeating, and immediately resigning ourselves to a month of overindulgence and an “I’ll just resolve to get back in shape after the New Year” attitude.
The truth is, none of us really needs to put on the extra weight that was once necessary to keep us warm. We have clothes for that. And heated homes. And heated offices. And heated seats in our cars.
We don’t really want to put on any additional weight either, because we know it’s way harder to get off. And nobody wants to wear turkey-and-stuffing-thighs and pecan-pie-belly to the pool with the kids when summer rolls back around. Moms find it difficult to watch their calorie intakes because they typically cook for their kids.
Thanksgiving is a true disaster for moms because most traditional meals are fatty and packed with calories. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to stave off the traditional holiday weight gain. And it doesn’t even mean eating less or skipping the pie. Although taking a tiny bit of everything means a much more comfortable evening and more energy to shop the next day if you intend to indulge, use these tips to keep you – and your family – on track.
1. Relax and just watch
To most moms, the holidays are one big bundle of stress. Stress, of course, can lead to overeating, and far less motivation to exercise. The solution? Indulge yourself in something relaxing, for at least 20 minutes every day (not just on Thanksgiving).
Make time for yoga, if that’s your thing or meditation. Even though it might sound crazy, getting up 20 minutes early to just sit and watch the leaves fall in the backyard can make a big difference in your stress level. Keep in mind, though, this is not a time to make lists and worry about all you’ve got to do. Get into a comfy chair, have some tea, and just watch.
2. Get a little exercise early in the day
Starting off on the right foot will make it easier to make better choices later. Take the dog for a walk. Or take the kids for a quick bike ride.
It will help them be calmer throughout the day as well, and, it’s a great way to soak in the season, especially if you make it a point to share all the things you are thankful for as you go. However, if you can afford to go to the gym early in the morning, it’s even better since you will burn more unwanted calories.
3. Eat breakfast
It may seem like you are saving calories if you just chug a few cups of coffee, but in reality, you are delaying the firing-up of your metabolism. And, you are far more likely to overeat later.
Get a protein-rich breakfast with the family early in the day, and you will all likely enjoy the big feast more, and overeat less. Drink a glass of water before your breakfast in order to eat less and feel full faster.
4. Bring snacks
If you are going to a family member or friend’s house for dinner, bring healthy snack options. Let someone else bring the sweets. Show up with a tray of veggies and dip and not only will the host thank you, but you will also be sure to have some yummy, and light, munching options.
Healthy salads are another healthy option. You can also make fruit kebabs as a healthy dessert for all the guests.
More: 7 Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Side Dishes
5. Have that piece of pie
No matter whether you are trying to lose weight or simply stay fit, you can have pie this Thanksgiving Day. You’re going to spend a few hours cooking – probably with your little ones – so you definitely deserve that piece of the pie.
Just keep it to one slice. And a single, small scoop of ice cream. You won’t wish you’d had more, and you won’t feel deprived. It’s the perfect win-win.
6. Take it easy on the egg nog
Delicious? Yes. Fun? Yes. Packed with calories? Yes. Enjoy a little egg nog before dinner, then, if you still need a little something, switch to wine.
Again, it might be a good idea to bring your own drinks. If you can’t imagine your celebration without egg nog, look for low-fat egg nog recipes or drink it in moderation. When it comes to fall and winter drinks, moderation is actually a priority.
7. Leave the leftovers
Or, if you are hosting, send them home with your guests. Yes, you could live off them for a week. Or, you could eat them all up in a single day and feel bloated and unmotivated for two more.
It’s not worth the savings. It will be much easier to wake up Friday morning ready to get back to your healthy eating habits if your fridge isn’t full of stuffing and leftover jello salad.
8. Check the clock
Not-6pm-right-after-dinner early, but, at a decent hour. Get a good night’s sleep. Then wake up at the crack of dawn (or before) and go shopping. It will help burn off all those extra calories.
Numerous studies show that people who get enough sleep (7-8 hours) each night lose weight faster than those who sleep less than 6 hours per night. Try meditation and yoga to fall asleep faster and sleep better.
More: 5 Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Ideas
Thanksgiving is about traditional meals, yes, but it’s all about family time as well. Keep your focus on enjoying each other and taking care of yourself and you can have a day of indulgence without paying for it all year.
Also, don’t starve yourself. Remember, you can eat everything you want but in moderation. What are your secrets for staying fit on Thanksgiving?