Weight Loss

Ten Tips to a Thinner Holiday

Sara Suchy Nov 20, 2012 (updated Jan 7, 2014)
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The holiday season does not have to mean an unhealthy diet.

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The most delicious time of the year
The most delicious time of the year

It’s here: a holiday celebrated almost exclusively for its delicious food that heralds in the most food-heavy season of the year. So, how do you navigate your way around the Thanksgiving table and the rest of the countless holiday gatherings without busting out of your clothes?  We have a few tips for you.

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Step up your workouts
Step up your workouts
Let’s be honest for a moment, you know you’ll eat more at Thanksgiving and other holiday meals than you will almost any other day despite your best efforts at moderation. So, get ahead of the calories.  Step up your workout routine during the holidays, especially in the days before you’ll have a big meal.  The extra endorphins will also do wonders for your stress level.  
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Get active in the morning
Get active in the morning
On Thanksgiving (or any other day with a big feast) wake up early and do something.  Go for a walk, hit the gym, roll out the yoga mat. Do anything that will get your body moving and your blood pumping in preparation for the day.  You know you won’t be hitting the treadmill after dinner. 
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Eat breakfast
Eat breakfast
Do not skip breakfast in an attempt to ‘save calories’.  It seems like a logical strategy, but will ultimately backfire on you.  If you show up at a Thanksgiving meal hungry, you’re almost guaranteed to overeat.  It will also throw off your body’s metabolic cycle if you don’t give it something to digest in the morning. It is okay to stick with a lighter breakfast, but don’t skip it all together, and try to include protein, such as eggs.  
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Set ground rules
Set ground rules
You’ve burned a few calories and eaten some breakfast, now it’s time to set some ground rules. Spontaneous eating will most likely lead to overeating so it’s a good idea to have a plan for what you will eat at the big meal.  If you know what will be served, prioritize the dishes you want to try and take small portions.  If you are a turkey eater, remember to stick with white meat and to take a portion no bigger than your fist.
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Cook smart
Cook smart
If you have the luxury--yes, luxury--of cooking Thanksgiving dinner, there are all kinds of ways you can cut calories.   Here are just a few:
  • Use fat-free broth to baste the turkey and make gravy
  • Use fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods
  • Reduce butter and oil when you can
  • Stick to olive oil if you must use oil
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Slow down
Slow down
Once you’ve sat down to your low-as-reasonably-possible-calorie dinner with the foods that you’ve carefully selected in advance, slow down and enjoy yourself. Flavors are always best savored slowly, so take your time. 
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Pay attention to your stomach
Pay attention to your stomach
Remember to pay attention to how you are feeling during the meal and stop eating when you feel full. It takes your body some time to register that your stomach is filling, so if overeat, you’re likely to feel uncomfortably full a few minutes later. 
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Moderate alcohol
Moderate alcohol
It’s okay to indulge in an alcoholic drink or two, but don’t overdo it. Alcohol does two things: 1. Adds empty calories to an already high caloric meal 2. Makes you more likely to over eat because your inhibitions are lowered.  
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Go for a walk
Go for a walk
After a big meal, it’s not a bad idea to stretch your legs a bit to get your metabolism working.  In fact, it’s a good idea to stay relatively active on a day built around eating.  This will keep your body burning calories throughout the day. They’ll be plenty of time to fall asleep in front of the TV with pumpkin pie after your walk. 
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Shift the focus
Shift the focus
With all the delicious food in front of you, it can be easy to make the whole day about indulging in your favorite holiday fare. Instead, make the day a little less food-centric and focus on socializing and enjoying time with friends and family.