So Thanksgiving is over. You feel stuffed, bloated, and maybe even a little bit guilty… and there’s still more stuffing and gravy hanging out in the fridge, calling your name.
You’re not alone. As nutritionist Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., tells Men’s Fitness:
“Adults typically consume 4,000 calories on Thanksgiving… And the foods we traditionally eat are loaded with salt, saturated fat, and refined sugars, which is why you’ll feel fatigue and bloating for days after.”
If you overdid it at your Thanksgiving feast, it’s important that you get back to a healthy eating plan as soon as possible – lest you settle into unhealthy habits for the rest of the holiday season!
Here are a few ideas to jump-start your health habits after a major holiday…
Drink Plenty of Water
The salty, creamy foods that are so popular during the holiday season can easily lead to dehydration, water retention, and body bloat if you don’t keep up your water intake.
We often confuse our feelings of thirst for feelings of hunger. With this in mind, the more water you sip, the more likely you’ll be to keep excess calories off of your plate when you dive into those holiday leftovers.
To be clear, we are suggesting that you drink plenty of plain water. When it comes to quenching your thirst, festive holiday drinks – such as soda, wine, and beer – won’t be as effective at slaking your thirst and giving your body what it needs. What’s more, these sugary drinks can even pack on extra calories – while increasing your appetite!
With that said, there are all sorts of ways that you can switch up your beverage game while also keeping it healthy. Many experts recommend drinking lemon water, for instance, particularly on the day following a hearty holiday meal; lemon is a natural detoxifier, high in vitamin C, and able to work wonders for your gut and your liver.
Still thirsty? Tea is also a great drink for getting your body on track after a gluttonous holiday meal. Opt for a tea that offers a digestive aid, such as ginger or fennel. It’s also never a bad idea to drink green tea. On top of its myriad other documented health benefits, green tea, like other types of teas, an antioxidant that helps your cells release fat and convert it into energy, aiding your metabolism.
Skip Refined Sugars and Dairy
Thanksgiving marks the unofficial start of the holiday season, which means that, even after the big meal, people are going to want to keep the spirit going. For many people, this means giving themselves a pass to indulge in creamy sauces and soups; thick, eggy drinks; and sweets, like candy, cookies, or pie.
Unfortunately, all of these sweet and creamy holiday goodies can do a number on your body. In particular, both sugar and dairy have been known to wreak havoc on some people’s digestive systems, leading to abdominal discomfort, inflammation, body pains, and bloating – each of which can make it even harder to get your diet back on track.
Instead of letting your guard down and filling up on sugary snacks, try to get your energy from natural sources, particularly fiber-rich fruit, like grapefruit and apples (which also help fight against heart disease and high cholesterol).
And instead of dumping milk into your gingerbread coffee or holiday mac and cheese, opt for nut milks if you can; almond, coconut, and hemp milk can all give your dish the perfect consistency, with a lower risk of causing digestive issues (assuming you don’t have any nut allergies, of course)
Emphasize High Volume, Low Calorie Foods
Thanksgiving recipes can be extremely high in bad fats, sugars, salt, and carbohydrates, making them a healthy eater’s worst nightmare. In the days after the holiday meal, consider eating lighter.
The good news? It is absolutely possible to eat to fill up without having to load your plate up with Thanksgiving leftovers!
Nutrition experts recommend seeking out meals that will curb your hunger and provide your body with what it needs, without all the extra fat and calories. In addition to high-fiber fruits and vegetables, many dieticians also recommend eating plenty of:
- Peppers, which are high in metabolism-boosting nutrients and low in calories
- Brussels sprouts, which are high in fiber, helping to normalize your blood sugar and de-bloat after a salty meal
- Lean proteins, including turkey and salmon, which can help reduce inflammation
- Healthy whole grains, such as farro, quinoa, and brown rice
- Legumes, like chickpeas and lentils, which are protein-rich and proven to help reduce inflammation, promote fat metabolism, and help you stay fuller for longer
But while health experts recommend folding these healthy foods into your diet, they also stress the importance of eating normally. As tempting as it may be when looking in the mirror after a heavy Thanksgiving, it’s important that you avoid crash dieting!
Instead, stick to a regular meal plan and focus on adopting healthy habits: eat slowly, only eat when you are hungry, consider limiting your food intake before bed, and so on.
Get Plenty of Rest and Exercise
In addition to getting your nutrition and eating habits back on track following the big holiday splurge, you’ll want to make sure that you check in with yourself physically. What does your body need? How can you help put yourself in the best possible position for a healthy, happy holiday season?
For most of us, the answer comes down to getting plenty of sleep and maintaining an exercise regimen.
Especially after a major holiday like Thanksgiving, it’s important to get plenty of sleep. It’s recommended that adults get seven hours of shuteye a night. A body deprived of sleep will have lower energy levels, and going without sleep could mess with your appetite – putting you in a position where you’ll actually be tempted to eat more.
Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that you stay active on the days before, during, and after Thanksgiving. Even though it may be tempting to just sit around and watch football all day, your body will thank you for getting up and moving around. Take a brisk walk on the morning after Turkey Day, gather up your family to play a sport in the yard, and, if you can, try to get to the gym (or at least work in some quick reps of your favorite resistance exercise around the house).
The more you focus on your fitness, the better you’ll feel after that heavy holiday meal. Studies suggest that exercise also helps boost your metabolism, helping you burn off those excess calories from the feast while also setting you up to make healthier choices in the days after.
Now, Enrollment Specialists would like to know: What are your post-Thanksgiving health hacks? We’d love to hear from you!
And remember, for all of your health and life insurance questions or concerns, drop us a line today! We’d love to help you find a plan that you’re thankful for, all year long!