Thanksgiving…

What comes to mind?

Family, friends, football and FOOD!!!

Yes indeed! What a joyous time of year. A time to kick back. A time to chill out. A time to settle down into the holiday spirit. And a time to stuff yourself…

While there are a few strong souls out there that can practice proper portion-control and avoid apple pie, the majority of us are… Different — including me.

Eating until you are beyond full to the point that you fall asleep is the American way. It’s tradition.

So why talk about practicing healthy eating habits on the few days per year that you are really allowed to splurge? 

I won’t. But, what I will do is provide you with a pre-game plan to help you to absorb the shock, just in case you decide to set a record for calorie intake for the year. The best plan is to make a few sacrifices ahead of time in order to “make room” for your Thanksgiving meal.

Follow a few steps to make sure that you stay balanced over the next few days.

Thanksgiving Holiday Pre-Game Plan to Avoid Weight Gain

  1. Eat only 1/2 to 2/3 of your regular portion sizes over the next few days. Reduce your caloric intake now, in the days prior to your Thanksgiving meal. For the most part, weight gain is simple math. If you are planning to intake more calories for Thanksgiving, then you need to create a deficit now. Most Americans consume an additional 4,500 to 5,000 calories during a Thanksgiving meal. To keep things in perspective, this is about twice the recommended daily caloric intake for the day! So if we can decrease our caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day prior to our Thanksgiving meal, we can allow room for additional calories ahead of time.  Reducing your typical portion size is an effective, simple means of reducing your calorie intake ahead of time. Simply, try eating your meals on a saucer-sized plate instead of a full-sized plate. 
  2. Avoid fasting. If you are fasting for religious reasons, that is great — please do! If you are fasting to lose weight before your splurge, then this is not the best idea. When you fast before eating a large meal, your body hangs on to every single calorie consumed because it thinks you are starving. If you are making drastic cuts in your caloric intake to make room for your Thanksgiving meal, then it is best to eat a couple of small meals during the day instead of cutting out eating altogether. When you eat multiple small meals, you keep your metabolic engines running. This sends continual signals to your brain that you are not starving and there is no need to store energy (as fat) from every bite of your Thanksgiving meal.
  3. Cut out the junk. Now is the time to cut out your “bonus” foods. We all have them. The cookie after a meal, the whipped cream in the coffee, the soda at lunch, etc. Cut this out now to say “no” and easily save a few calories before Thanksgiving. Keep it simple and straight. Eat like a caveman or cavewoman. Consume only fruits and vegetables, brown rice and pastas, lean meats and only drink water, coffee or herbal teas.
  4. Boost your cardiovascular exercise. If you want to make room for calories, you have to burn some off. In addition, ramping up your cardiovascular exercise will get your metabolic engines going, so when you overeat on Thursday, those additional calories can easily be burned. Think of it as throwing fresh wood on a fire that is already hot. Because the fire is hot, the wood is easily burned. Now imagine throwing food on a fire that is just getting started. It takes much longer for that new batch of wood to burn off.
  5. Have your post-game plan ready. I will be writing a post on this soon, but plan on doing a 30-Day Workout Routine to help you get things back in balance after your splurge. Besides, the holiday season is generally one that correlates with excessive eating over the coming weeks. So, now is a good time to kick up your calorie-burning potential just to keep from gaining extra winter pounds.

Now that you have a solid Thanksgiving Holiday Pre-Game Plan to avoid weight gain, keep in mind that the obvious way is still best — avoid overeating if possible! It does take a bit of discipline (which I don’t have), but if you can hold out, do it!

Overall, enjoy this time of year and make sure that you share your gratitude with everyone around you.