A Thinner Thanksgiving: 5 Ways to eat what you want without gaining weight

Festive Thanksgiving day dinner

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday of the year. It’s a holiday based on good food and family fun, two of my favorite things. While I must admit I’ve made it tradition to hide secretly healthy food in sinfully decadent recipes, I still allow myself the privilege of alcoholic beverages and less than ideal meal choices.
Without guilt, without reluctance I enjoy every moment of it, but I do practice a few techniques to curb my appetite and keep my waistline down. Here are 5 things I do to help me stay at a healthy weight and still eat what I love at thanksgiving:

1. Start with breakfast and eat every few hours: it may sound counter-intuitive, but if you eat more in the morning, you’ll be fuller later in the day. Also, breakfast wakes up your metabolism and helps you burn calories. This is a process known as thermogenesis. To keep your metabolism high all day, eat every few hours. We often decide to eat less before holiday meals because we think we’ll ruin our appetite for dinner. Yet, by starting off with breakfast and eating every few hours you’ll find your appetite is controlled and you can make wiser decisions. You’ll eat less without even realizing it, and when you do eat; your metabolism will work at its best. Choose lighter snack options such as veggie sticks and hummus. They taste great and they fill you with fibre and nutrients.

2. Do Cardio and resistance training the day of the big meal: exercise speeds up your metabolism. It’s that simple. While cardio speeds up your metabolism for just a few hours, some studies have reported that resistance training increases calorie burn for up to 72 hours after exercise. With resistance training, even after you’ve enjoyed your big turkey dinner your body is still burning the yummy food the next day. Time may be limited on a big family day especially if you’re the one organizing the event. To maximise your time add cardio and resistance training into one quick workout. It takes less than an hour. Here is a sample:
Jump rope: 1 minute. Rest as needed before going to the next exercise.

Row: Stand with two dumbbells in each hand. Your feet shoulder width apart.
Tip from the hips. Look forward to keep your head in alignment with your spine.
Inhale as you slide your elbows along your side and squeeze your shoulder blades back.
Exhale as you lengthen your arms and reach the dumbbells in the direction of the ground.
Do 15 repetitions.

Burpee with push ups: stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Reach your arms up and jump. Bend into a squat. Place your hands on the ground. Kick your legs back so you’re in a plank position (If you get tired step your legs back. Form is everything). Do a push up (option, go on your knees). Jump your legs back into a squat position. Stand up and jump up towards the sky. Repeat.
Do for 1 minute. Rest as needed before going to the next exercise.

Bicep curl: hold a dumbbell in each hand. Legs shoulder width apart. Posture straight. As you exhale bend at the elbows and lift the weight up. Inhale as you lower. Keep a slight bend in the elbow to protect your joint. Repeat.
Do 15 times

Jump squats: Start with your legs shoulder width apart. Tip your hips back until you’re in a seated position. Jump up as you reach your arms up towards the sky. Land in the seat position as you swing your arms back down. Repeat.

Do for 1 minute. Rest as needed before going to the next exercise.

Triceps push ups: Lie on your stomach. Place your hands underneath your chest, index fingers and thumbs touching. Keep your elbows glued to your side. As you exhale slide your elbows along your side and push up into a plank position (Option: push up onto your knees). Do 15 repetitions.

Mountain climbers: Begin in a plank position, arms extended and hands underneath your shoulders. Lift your right leg off of the ground. Bend your right knee and bring it in towards your chest. Return your right knee to the original position and bring your left knee into chest. Repeat right leg and then left leg.

Do for 1 minute. Rest as needed before going to the next exercise.

Complete the circuit 3-5 times. Try to complete the full circuit with as little rest in between exercises as possible. This will keep your heart rate elevated.

3. Host the big day: Hosting an event is a lot of physical work. While others are sitting around eating, you put the last finishing touches on a beautiful meal. You’ll find yourself eating less and expending more energy as you run around. Hosting the event also gives you full reign over dinner. Choose secretly healthy options without saying a word. Mashed potatoes can become a delicious cauliflower and potato combination. Change white bread stuffing for multigrain bread and choose vegetable dip as a starter. Of course you’ll have unhealthy options too, but when you’re ready to eat, you can stalk up on lower calorie options before enjoying the many other delectables you’ve decided to serve.

4. Spark up conversation: Portion control at thanksgiving can be difficult, especially if you’re not the one serving the food. But the longer it takes to eat your meal, the more likely you are to eat less. Hormone signals that are released by your stomach and your small intestine need time to talk with each other and your brain to say you’re full and satisfied. If you eat too fast, the full signals don’t have time to process and you risk overeating. Engaging conversation gives your body time to digest between bites. After all, it’s hard to speak with your mouth full.

5. Give away your left overs: Leftovers turn a one day cheat day into a week-long event. Give yourself permission to enjoy thanksgiving and then move on. Be a good host and give it all away. If you’re a guest you may feel rude turning leftovers down. Ask for healthier options. Choose turkey, salad or veggies. Stay away from heavy desserts and stuffing.

There’s no need for deprivation. Life is meant to be enjoyed. But being conscious of your decisions and adding these few techniques to your thanksgiving will really make a huge impact on your weight-loss journey.

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