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How To Be Healthy Around Thanksgiving

Beatrice Verhoeven |
November 13, 2013 | 1:00 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

A Thanksgiving trademark (food network.com).
A Thanksgiving trademark (food network.com).
It's that time of the year again when we eat copious amounts of turkey, smother our mashed potatoes with gravy, and consume portions and portions of casserole and pumpkin pie. Yeah, it's delicious… but, as they say, everything that's good in life is either illegal, fattening, or bad, right?

So here are some health tips that will allow you to indulge in all the yummy Thanksgiving dishes and desserts without feeling too guilty. There are still a few weeks until the holiday commences, so you have some time to prepare yourself for the big day.

First off, DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF. If you think that not eating a lot until Thanksgiving will keep you from putting on those extra pounds, you're wrong. Starving yourself now will only cause you to binge-eat later. And, as opposed to eating healthy food right now, you will be binging on food that contains unhealthy, fattening hidden ingredients.

You can count on eating between 3,400 and 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving day, starting with appetizers until that last piece of pumpkin pie. Fasting now and stuffing yourself later is not going to help you. Instead, eat healthy calories that will fill you up and give you the healthy nutrients you need. Eat products like wheat toast and oatmeal to help prepare you for the large amounts of carbohydrates that will be headed your way. Also, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

In terms of working out, to each their own. In order to shed some pounds before Thanksgiving and maintain it, you must have a decent workout routine. Make sure to switch it up to keep your body from getting used to what you are doing to it. This will help you shed pounds easier. For example, if you do 45 minutes of running on the treadmill and 10 minutes on the bike, do 30 minutes on the stair master and 30 minutes on the elliptical the next day. Increase every workout regime by a few minutes. 

Have your, er, pie, and eat it too (babble.com).
Have your, er, pie, and eat it too (babble.com).

If you don't have time to hit the gym, do little things like splitting up the chores. It burns more calories than you think: According to FitDay, washing the dishes for 30 minutes burns 160 calories, and scrubbing the bathroom for 30 minutes burns 200 calories, and also works your shoulders and arms. 

Another way to stay healthy before Thanksgiving is to be aware of what you are consuming. The winter days and early sunsets might make you want to cuddle up on the couch and eat ice cream, brownies or popcorn. However, as mentioned before, by cutting out empty calories and fat, you can spare yourself some weight gain by the end of the month.

Once the day of Thanksgiving has commenced, all you might want to do is skip breakfast and save yourself for the big feast. But according to Patch and The Greatist, skipping breakfast will more than likely make you binge later. So at least eat a small breakfast to get your metabolism and day started. Opt for hearty oatmeal, eggs, or wheat toast and peanut butter to keep you satisfied until appetizers are served.

Also -- get active! Don't crowd around the TV. Take your friends outside and play some football, go on a run or hit the gym. You will feel a lot better when that last piece of apple pie rolls around, and you'll remember how lucky you are to have an able body. 

Before you know it, it'll be time for Thanksgiving dinner. The host will inevitably serve small plates like cheese and crackers and lots of wine. Here's where you can spare yourself some major calories and as well as space in your stomach. Think about it -- you can have cheese and crackers year-round, but you can't have your mom's homemade casserole or gravy all the time. Making executive decisions about what you'd rather eat can be your lifesaver. Just one serving of cheese and crackers has 195-250 calories, and that's even before appetizers have been served! Think about what you want to consume ahead of time, and you will be able to actually enjoy the dinner without feeling ashamed. If you know you want more pie this year, simpy cut your serving on gravy.

Another tip to keep you a little bit healthier throughout the holiday season is to put your fork down between bites and eat slower. Your food isn't going anywhere, and you will also be able to enjoy the food AND the feeling after to a greater extent if you eat mindfully.

And remember to pause between servings! Experts say that pausing for 20 minutes will actually tell you whether you are full or not. This is another way you can a) be healthier and b) avoid the food coma. And drink water instead of soda: this will help your body digest easier.

Portion control is another big one. Don't pile food on your plate! One serving of gravy versus two can save you a whopping 450 calories! If you are really hungry after your first serving, you can always get a second helping. Sweet potatoes make for a good second round because of the large amount of Vitamin C and beta-carotene content. 

Lastly and most importantly, relax, enjoy the holidays and be happy! Happiness is the ultimate recipe for health. Thanksgiving is for giving thanks, not frenetically counting every calorie on your plate. Obviously, try not to eat the leftovers to the level of the actual Thanksgiving meal, but enjoy your time with friends and family and the downtime before school or work commences again. 

Reach Staff Reporter Beatrice Verhoeven here. Follow her on Twitter



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