This is part 2 of a 3 part blog series about staying healthy through the holidays. This time of year can be difficult for our health and this series will focus on actionable steps and advice to help you stay healthy, decrease the amount of weight gained, and be happy during this holiday season.

I hope everyone had a great Halloween! If you read part 1 of this series and used some of the tools in that post, you still enjoyed the holiday without the guilt after eating. The next holiday we are going to talk about is a big one, Thanksgiving! As we all know, Thanksgiving means an almost endless supply of food that can be great but often has a negative effect on our health and waistline.

The average American gains up to 7 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas!

In part 2 of our blog series we will be addressing Thanksgiving dinner. In part 1 of this series, I discussed several tips that can be considered great health advice for any time of year, not just the holidays. I will list those below again in case you forgot. I will also include some common holiday specific treats and dishes and discuss ways to make them healthier yet still enjoyable.

I am sure that you are aware that change can be hard, especially if you try to much too fast. This approach can lead to burnout and failure with maintaining it over the long term. To make concrete changes that last a lifetime, the changes have to start small. Regardless of the size of your end goal, i.e. run a marathon, starting small can help our bodies and schedules adapt to the changes we are making, i.e. walking then running a few miles per day.  

Below are two great tips to start changing our health in general and over the holiday season.

  1. Exercise

    1. Our bodies are designed to move. The more they move, the better our bodies function. This includes not only our metabolism, but also our immune system, recovery, and injury prevention.
      1. GOAL: 30 minutes per day exercise (walking, running, lifting, etc.)
        1. TIP: Start with adding 10 min. in the morning or at lunch each day
  2. Water Intake

    1. Water has a very important role in our bodies. It is responsible and active in most reactions and allows us to function. Our bodies can become dehydrated before we get symptoms which are just the outward sign that things are in crisis mode. Besides being good for our health, water also helps us feel fuller faster!
      1. GOAL: 1 fluid oz per pound body weight
        1. TIP: Add one small glass of water every few days to create a habit

This Thanksgiving, use portion control and alternative recipes to enjoy the traditional tastes of the holiday while minimizing the impact on your health.

  1. Portion Control

    1. With the season comes season specific foods, pumpkin pie, candy apples, candy corn, that we do not have available other times of the year. When these items are available, it often results in over eating and can have an impact on our health. I will discuss a little later in the post about alternatives but regardless of regular or lighter versions of favorite holiday dishes, it is important to always practice portion control.  
      1. GOAL: Take 10 seconds between each bit to let your body recognize when it is full sooner. Reduce portions at restaurants by ordering half your dish in a to go container.
        1. TIP: For sample portion sizes that can be helpful when eating at family and friends house, see this infographic!
  1. Alternative Holiday Treats

    1. Every Thanksgiving dinner is different but almost always consist of 4 basic elements, green bean casserole, stuffing, gravy, and pumpkin/apple pie. These 4 dishes are often looked forward to all year and are a welcome sight on the table  but can be a harm to your health if we are not careful. fd Candy corn, cookies, pumpkin pie, and caramel apples all available this time of year it is no wonder that holiday treats are often hard to resist. When presented with these holiday dishes, portion control (PC) and alternative recipes are the key to healthy eating. Below are a different recipes for traditional holiday dishes and tips on portion control. A general rule is to avoid store bought dishes and make alternatives at home.
      1. Green bean casserole
        1. Alternative recipe: Healthy Green Bean Casserole
        2. PC TIP: Start by taking a smaller portion and waiting before going up for seconds. Also try using a smaller serving spoon!
      2. Stuffing
        1. Alternative recipe: Stuffing Alternatives
        2. PC TIP: Reduce the amount of stuffing you eat by making individual stuffing dishes using corning ware or cupcake pans!
      3. Gravy
        1. Alternative recipe: Best Gravy Ever
        2. PC TIP: Remember, gravy is a condiment to be used sparingly and not as a separate dish. Take less initially. You can always add more.
      1. Pumpkin  Pie
        1. Alternative recipe: Ultimate Healthy Pumpkin Pie
        2. PC TIP: Instead of a whole pie, make muffins from the recipe. Think of them as single serve pies! Keep a few out and put the rest in the freezer.

Our Pinterest page includes more recipes for favorite holiday treats. When looking at different recipes remember to have as few ingredients as possible. And remember, taking out sugar just to add sweetener is never a trick to make something healthier.

Stay tuned for our next blog post where we look at the final holidays of the season:  Christmas and New Years!

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