This will brief; it’s Thanksgiving; you shouldn’t be spending your whole day reading fitness blogs!

A client and I were talking about how to walk the fine line of enjoying the Holiday without ruining one’s diet in a day, so I thought of some of my favorite bits of fitness advice that would do the following:

  1. Help keep total Calorie consumption down.
  2. Improve – or at least not damper – one’s enjoyment of the Holiday.

Here’s what I came up with.  After sharing with him, I felt it would make a nice, quick post here and maybe help some of my anonymous internet friends.  If any of these do indeed help you, or if you have any additional tips that meet the two requirements above, let me know in the comments!

1) Enjoy yourself! Don’t let fitness ruin Thanksgiving for you. It’s one day, and one day will never make or break a diet.
2) Eat slowly. It helps – it really does. Have conversation with those gathered around the table. Make that conversation a priority while also only eating when your attention is on the food you’re about to eat. This will slow you down considerably and also make the meal more enjoyable, both for you and those around you.
3) Start building your plate with veggies, and let them take up a lot of space. Cover half your plate with them. This will leave less space with everything else. It’s Thanksgiving, so most veggies will be cheesy, fatty monstrosities; that’s OK! If it’s green and a vegetable, it’s probably one of the smarter options of the day.
4) Go nuts for turkey! After veggies, turkey is your bff (if the veggies are indeed cheesy, fatty monstrosities, turkey is even better by comparison). Cover at least a quarter of your plate with turkey.
5) Limit variety. Pick the one or two non-turkey-and-vegetables things you’d like to try and give them a taste! Enjoy your favorites, but don’t feel like you need to taste every single thing available to you.
6) Fast up to the meal. Don’t eat before the big feast. If you do eat before the big feast, limit it to lean protein and veggies and maybe a piece of fruit. You do NOT need extra fat leading up to the meal; you’ll have plenty of fats available to you at your feast. Try to keep the Calories outside your big meal under 500.
7) Don’t count your Calories on Thanksgiving. It’s an exercise in futility and it feels sad. Don’t do it unless you’re on some sort of physique deadline (upcoming physique competition, photo shoot, etc.).
8) Consider a cup of coffee or – if you hate yourself – green tea before the feast. Caffeine is an appetite suppressant, and you might find you’re ravenous in anticipation of your Thanksgiving feast. A cup of coffee can help you come to the meal with a fighting chance for slowing down and not stuffing yourself.
9) Once you’ve (over)eaten, stop. If you stuff yourself at the meal, there’s a good chance you won’t be hungry later that day. It’s OK to stop eating and enjoy the other part of the Holiday (football, going to the movies, conversation with friends/family, board games, or whatever traditions you hold sacred). It’s not all about food.  This does not mean that you should shame yourself or practice compensatory behavior; it just means that you’ll probably not be hungry after your big meal, and you should pay attention to those hunger and satiety cues.
10) Feel free to forget all of this (except #1). It’s a Holiday, and it’s 100% OK to take the day off from worrying about food. I know some (myself included) like to have a feeling of control, and these things can help greatly with that feeling, but please know that it’s OK to just relax and to eat and drink a bit too much on this day.


Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Daniel