You’ve been killing it all year, you’re living clean and lean.  Now, Thanksgiving is here, what do you do?  If you’re looking forward to stuffing yourself like so much Turkey, then far be it for us to judge you.  However, knowing that overeating can become a slippery slope here is a cornucopia of tips and tricks for staying thinner at Thanksgiving dinner.

Create a Plan

At the end of the day, success comes down to having a plan.  The first question you have to ask yourself is:

Will I:

  1. Eat as clean as possible
  2. Treat it Like a Cheat or Social Meal
  3. Go All Out

?

Once you’ve decided on the above, here are strategies for making sure you aren’t setting yourself back several weeks for one day (or if you’re keeping leftovers, days) of enjoyment.

Plan A: Eat as Clean as Possible

In an ideal world, this is where you’d like to be.  There are a few strategies for eating super clean on Thanksgiving.

Bring your own meal

Bring your own prepped meal, you can certainly bring a Project LeanNation meal or two, or prepare your own.  If your family tries to deride you for not joining in on the festivities, remind them that Thanksgiving is about family and reflecting on what you are thankful for.  Tell them you are thankful for the benefits your healthy lifestyle has afforded you and happy to share time with people you love. 

Host the Meal with Fellow LeanLifers

Sometimes it’s not about the family we were born into, but the family we choose; or maybe the family you have would like to eat healthy with you.  Cook a healthy meal that you can all enjoy.  

Healthy Substitutes

Whether you’re hosting or bringing a dish to pass, you can make a healthy version.  Turkey is super healthy, the side dishes are the biggest culprits.  You can cook a similar meal just reduce some sodium and fat content and choose healthy substitutes.  

  • Use fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy.
  • Make a gravy with cauliflower flour instead of the glutinous, I mean gluttonous gravy (or maybe I mean both).
  • Use sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods.
  • Reduce oil and butter wherever you can.
  • Try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.
  • Roasted red potatoes or mashed cauliflower, instead of mashed potatoes.

Focus on the Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

As noted above, Thanksgiving is about giving gratitude and sharing this joy with family and friends.  Despite what marketing departments would like you to believe, the food is secondary.  Focus on how thankful you are and enjoy the conversations with your family.

 

Plan B: Treat it Like a Cheat or Social Meal

Treat Thanksgiving like a glorified cheat or as we like to call it at PLN a ‘social meal.’  There are a few steps you can take to make sure it doesn’t turn into a calorie fest.

Skip or Go Light on the Alcohol

One of the hidden harbingers for heft is those empty calories we consume to fuel conversation.  Skip the wine entirely, or if you must have a drink limit yourself to one or two.

Lighten Up

As mentioned above, there are several ways you can lighten up the meal so that you can eat a little more than usual without racking up unnecessary calories.

Portion Control

Make sure your plates are properly portioned and avoid going in for seconds.  If it is in your control, try to keep the food in the kitchen.  It’s a lot easier to avoid a second helping if that bowl of stuffing isn’t staring at you.  

Step Away from the Table

Leave the table after you’ve completed your meal, ask to be excused of course.  Move the party over to the couch and watch Football or a holiday movie with the family.  

Eat Breakfast

A small but satisfying breakfast and/ or lunch will go a long way to making sure you aren’t famished by the time you sit down for the feast.

Plan C: Go All Out

You love Thanksgiving food and are going to gorge no matter what.  We don’t judge, we just want to help you stay on course no matter what choice you make.

Increase The Workout Intensity

If you’re going to eat like Michael Phelps training for the Olympics, you might as well train like him.  Start increasing your workout intensity at least a week before.  Earn those calories.  At the end of the day, we’re trying to avoid the guilt that comes with gorging.  This is the best way to make sure you’re not crying in a corner Friday morning.

No Leftovers

If you’re going to gorge, don’t bring any extra trash home; and if you host the meal make sure the leftovers leave the premises.

Take a Hike

If you’re blessed with decent weather, maybe talk your family or some friends into a nice brisk walk shortly after the meal to take in the fall foliage and reminisce.