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The holidays are the best time of the year! With family, friends, and food galore, spirits are brighter and bellies are fuller. Thanksgiving, in particular, can be particularly focused on food and mealtime, which means it’s a holiday rife with overindulgence. In this, it’s crucial that you don’t let how you eat on Thanksgiving day determine your health or set you off track for the rest of the year! Here are 7 tips for a healthy Thanksgiving that will ensure you spend the next few days guilt-free and focused on your health goals!

1. Get a Good Nights Sleep

Getting enough sleep can help you maintain your weight. As it turns out, both ghrelin and leptin, two hormones that regulate hunger, are affected by the amount of sleep you get each night. As you become more and more sleep-deprived, your levels of ghrelin spike and levels of leptin fall, which increases your hunger. Simultaneously, endocannabinoid, which makes the act of eating more enjoyable, raises in your blood and increases your cravings.
This interference with your hunger signals can lead to eating more unhealthy foods. Research has shown that “people who don’t get enough sleep eat twice as much fat and more than 300 extra calories the next day, compared to those who sleep for eight hours.” This is why it’s crucial to get a good night of sleep before Thanksgiving or you might wind up overeating and packing on the calories.

2. Eat Breakfast

In the same vein, making sure that you have a good foundation for the day is key. Start your day with a big, healthy breakfast like an egg-white omelet or oatmeal. Saving up calories for the big Thanksgiving dinner rarely works and often leads to overindulging and overeating. A healthy, hearty breakfast will also make it easier for your body to digest dinner!

3. Stay Active

Just because Thanksgiving is a holiday known for eating and indulging, you shouldn’t give up on your fitness routine. Add a few fun and active traditions to your Thanksgiving festivities. Consider taking a walk early in the day and again after dinner with your family! Try a Turkey Trot or a 5 or 10k fun run! Consider playing flag football with your family before you all settle in to watch the big game or attend a parade! Staying active is a surefire way to ensure that you’ll have control over your health and wellness.

4. Savor Every Bite

Make sure that you eat slowly and savor every bite. Put your fork down as you chew and enjoy the flavor of each mouthful! Being present as you eat is a method of mindfulness that will ensure you exhibit healthy dietary habits. Mindless grazing is often the downfall of many. Concentrate and be aware of what you’re consuming leading up to dinner as well – oftentimes, pilling up on appetizers will destroy your appetite and plans for dinner.

5. Don’t Skip the Veggies

Make sure that you divide your portion up properly: one half of your plate should be filled with veggies, one quarter should have a source of protein and then the rest should include a healthy starch like corn on the cob, baked potato, or sweet potatoes. Make sure that your plate is a rainbow of nutrients and food groups! Eating vegetables will ensure that you won’t overindulge on unhealthy food.

6. Use a Smaller Plate

Exercise portion control. Filling a small plate with the main course and all of your sides will make sure that you control how much you’re eating. DO whatever you can to avoid the temptation of using multiple plates and bowls. Research shows that when we pick a smaller plate, we trick our eyes and minds into thinking we’re eating more than we actually are. In doing this, even if you go up for seconds, you’re ensuring that you are eating a reasonable amount.

7. Don’t Punish Yourself

Lastly, don’t punish yourself. This will give you more stress, which could lead you to eat more in the long run. Don’t push yourself through an intense work out to make up for any extra calories. It’s likely this could lead to injury! Similarly, restricting your food the nest day can just make things worse. Beating yourself is a surefire way to put yourself in full-on binge mods, which can be a dangerous cycle. Instead of letting the day get to you, simply lay out the groundwork for healthy eating moving forward. Just work to get back on track the next day. Don’t let your fitness routine or diet go off the rails because you indulged one day. It’s important to keep your eye on your goals!