Thanksgiving 101: 3 Tips to Avoid the After-Dinner Blues

The week before Thanksgiving you may feel a little bit of anxiety.  If you're hosting there's a certain amount of pressure on you or if you're attending a dinner there's pressure on you too. Everytime you go to supermarket there's a reminder to buy food, prepare it, and eat till your heart's content.  The only problem is that the preparation leading up to Thanksgiving can be stressful and it's not uncommon to indulge in some not-so-healthy habits.  I find that there are several triggers that can set you back so the best thing to do is get ahead of them, plan for them, and avoid what I call the after Thankgiving Dinner Blues.

#1: Avoid overeating prior to the big day.  Of course you want to make sure your dish is perfect but constant sampling will increase your calories in no time.  Instead of sampling every dish, enlist some family members to help you.  If you must sample anything, make sure to use a 1/4 teaspoon serving.  Reducing your nibbling can shave off 200-300 calories easy.  Another tip is to have crunchy vegetables or sugar-free gum nearby when you're cooking.  This will avoid the urge to nibble and mix food tastes.  

Tip #2: Skipping your exercise routine. Exercise early in the day.  There's plenty of research on why you should do it in the morning but from a practical standpoint waiting until after you prepare dinner isn't ideal.  I recommend scheduling your workouts first thing in the morning. Have a small snack before you head out and get it done!  Your metabolism will be super-charged and you'll get the post-exercise fat burning benefits.  Add some strength training in there as well and you're all set! Here's a quick strength training routine along with a short high-intensity interval run.  You can use this interval schedule on the elliptical and stair machine too.  If you can't get your workout in early, do something - a mid-afternoon or post dinner walk with the family.

Tip #3: Avoid drinking to much wine or sugary drinks. There's nothing like spending quality time with family during Thanksgiving.  However, Thanksgiving can come with its challenges.  This time of year marks the time when you may ditch the healthy habits and splurge a bit. 


Research shows that although people don't gain 5-10 pounds a year as originally thought, even a slight increase of 3 pounds over time makes a difference.  Just think, 3 pounds over 10 years and you're 30 pounds heavier!  Don't let the research discourage you; there are creative ways to enjoy your turkey day and stay on the wagon.

Tip #2 - Use a small plate.  Chances are high that you'll have large plate to enjoy your food but don't use it!  A better choice is to eat mini-meals.  Make your first plate a veggie platter, next enjoy some protein and veggies.  By the time you get to plates three and four, you'll have less room to load up on the calorie traps that can derail you.

Tip #3 - Talk more.  Thanksgiving doesn't just have to be about food.  Take the time to talk more to your loved ones.  Do a serviceproject together or play some board games.  Studies show that the more interactive people are during meal time the less likely they will overeat.  This phenomenon has to do with the amount of time it takes our brain to register that we're satisfied - about 20 minutes.

Enjoy your day and remember to be thankful - that's what Thanksgiving is all about!