10 Ways to Stay Healthy During Thanksgiving

1) Don’t arrive hungry — Eat some healthy snacks a couple of hours before showing up for the Big Meal. I know it sounds like a good idea to starve yourself and then gorge when the time comes, but it’s not. You’ll end up overeating and paying for it big time.

2) Be proactive — You KNOW everyone else is going to bring gravy-covered meats, starchy side dishes, and sugary/fattening desserts. Make sure you have some healthy options by being “That Person” who brings the fruit or veggie platter. Nobody will hate you for it, I promise. And if they do, who cares, you know self-defense.

3) No sugary drinks — Water is your best friend. No useless calories, helps you feel less hungry, and is always refreshing. Also, I know some of you will be drinking wine or beer into the evening. (Yeah, you know who you are.) All the more reason to skip the sodas and juices during meal time.

4) Be smart about what you pile on your plate — Enjoy yourself, but think twice before diving in. Can you switch up the dark meat for all white meat? Yes. Can you go skinless on your turkey serving? Yes. Do you need THAT much gravy? No. You already have some starches on your plate, do you need those bread rolls as well? NO. To begin, fill half your plate with whatever veggie options are available, and then go from there.

5) Seconds, anyone? — Seconds are a big deal at Thanksgiving, especially if you come from a family like mine where turning down more food is pretty much the same as slapping your host across the face. Do yourself a favour though and take a 20 minute break before even THINKING about heading back for more. Use this time to refill your water-glass and engage in small talk. This gives your brain time to register that you’ve eaten, and you’ll crave less food for the second go-around, if even any at all.

(More tips after the jump.)

6) What’s for dessert? — I would never tell you to NOT have dessert on Thanksgiving — I’m not a monster — but if you can live without it, do so. If you must, like you did with the veggies during the main course, fill your dessert plate with mostly fruit (you brought some! No excuses), and then treat yourself on the side. If you’re having coffee, try it black. It goes well with a lot of desserts.

7) Don’t just sit there, act young — The meal is done, but that’s no reason to sit on the couch and bliss out. Burn some calories and aid your digestion by helping to clean up. If you have nieces, nephews, if your friends have children or a family dog around, take the opportunity to chase them around the yard or go for a walk. It’s the adults who usually sit after dinner and get lazy — find the kids and the animals and feed off their energy.

8 ) Is there another way to catch up with loved ones? — Stemming from the last suggestion, instead of sitting around and chatting idly with your friends and family members, is there something else you could be doing? If there’s a basketball net outside, catch up by talking while shooting some hoops. Toss a football, play some Wii Sports, anything. You’ll find it makes the conversation easier anyway.

9) Bookend Thanksgiving with some hard workouts — The morning/afternoon before the Big Meal, get in a good workout to get your metabolism in gear. Just because the club is closed doesn’t mean you should sit around watching The Big Bang Theory. The weather forecast is beautiful — perfect day to pound the pavement, play a game of pick-up, or at least go for a long walk. Then pop back in at Kombat on Tuesday and put some work in.

10) Don’t sweat it too much — Health isn’t just about counting calories and sweating buckets. Happiness goes a long way, and above all over the long weekend make sure to surround yourself with loved ones and people who make you laugh.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.