As the holiday season approaches, it’s exciting to visit family, catch up with friends, and share some delicious meals together. However, the holidays are a notoriously difficult time to stay healthy, from cold weather limiting exercise options to the tempting foods filling the markets. Last year, we noted how even a small weight gain has a negative effect on your joints: every pound of weight gained puts an extra 3-5 pounds of pressure on knee joints. So this year, we’re adding to our tips for healthy eating with some ideas for staying active and surviving the Thanksgiving feast without gaining weight!
Not all foods are created equal.
When you see everyone else filling up their plates with an abundance of food, you’re likely going to want to participate, too. You can still fill up your plate, but do so strategically by indulging in healthy food options. Cover half your plate with plain, steamed vegetables and lightly dressed salad; a quarter of your plate you can reserve for protein (about a palm-sized amount of lean turkey is a good choice!); the last quarter will be free for a controlled portion of mashed potatoes, stuffing, or your other favorite Thanksgiving dishes!
Note: Common condiments like gravy and cranberry sauce can have high fat and sugar content. Try to minimize condiments to 1-2 tablespoons. Additionally, vegetables cooked in cream-based casseroles (like spinach or green bean casserole) don’t count as “plain, steamed vegetables” and should go in the last quarter of your plate, not the vegetable half!
Get in the game.
On Thanksgiving, football games can keep you glued to the couch all day. In between games or during half time are great opportunities for you to get in the game instead of just watching. Rally the whole crew for a game of touch football or walk to your local park to play catch. A stroll around the neighborhood will work, too.
Help out the hosts.
If you’ll be joining someone else for the holidays, you can stay active by helping the hosts set up or clean after the meal. Joining in the cooking, setting the table, filling up drink glasses, or clearing dishes after dinner will have you walking around more often. The hosts will sure appreciate the help, and your body will thank you for staying active, even during the meal.
Share the leftover food.
Leftovers will extend the temptation of unhealthy food beyond the holidays, so try to share your leftovers. Send home extra food with your guests or help out your community by donating it to a local shelter. Before you donate, just make sure to look up what kinds of food the shelters will accept.
It’s easy to sit back, relax, and eat an embarrassing amount of pie during the holidays. But if you’re always looking for opportunities to get your body moving, you’ll have a happy and healthy celebration; and next Thanksgiving, you’ll be thankful for the good choices you made to take care of your body!