7 Tips for a Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving

Horizon Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the one day a year we seem to splurge on calories. Turkey, gravy, pie, cakes, breads and casseroles laden with butter and bacon sure taste great. According to the New England Journal of Medicine (though most of us know from the way our clothes fit), most people gain at least a pound during the holiday season. People who are already overweight going into the holidays gain even more — an average of more than five pounds. 

But, the holidays don’t have to lead to a fluffier you. We asked our physicians for their best tips to enjoy this food and family centered holiday without packing on the pounds. Here are their tips on how to stuff the turkey, not you!

Dr. Chuck Williams (Clayton) says control portions. When putting your plate together, try small amounts of each dish, so you can enjoy it all. The same is true with dessert. Instead of a full piece of each dessert, take a small sliver of each. (Besides, Thanksgiving leftovers taste great too. Enjoy them Friday!)

Dr. Tony Liverman (Smithfield) suggests quick bursts of exercise. Interval training is quick, high intensity training to get your heart rate going. During football commercials try jumping jacks, sprints, or running the stairs to get your heart beat going. Just four minutes of high intensity exercise burns about 200 calories!

Dr. Jackie McGill (Clayton) recommends that skipping the alcohol and drink water instead. Alcohol is very high in calories. Also, it triggers hunger signals which leads to more over-eating. Water is calorie free and doesn’t trick you into wanting more than you need.

Dr. Stan Watson (Four Oaks) says eat fish. It’s healthier than turkey and gravy.

Dr. Rob Dawkins (Clayton) says cut the calories as you cook. Cut butter and bacon in savory recipes by 25%. You’ll get the flavor with fewer calories hidden inside. Cut butter and sugar in fruit pies (including pumpkin) by 25% to save calories on dessert as well. (If you don’t tell your guests, we won’t either.)

Dr. Rhonda Davis (Smithfield) offers practical, easy tips including: half of your food should be vegetables and fruits; starches (potatoes, stuffing, rice, pasta and bread combined) no larger than your fist; practice portion control — easier when you set the table with smaller plates (9″ instead of 12″); and chew slowly.

Dr. Bill Hebda (Riverwood) may have the best advice of all. Thanksgiving is about tradition, and food is much of that tradition. Enjoy the day — the food, the memories made, the time with family. Just don’t let one day’s over-indulgence become a season of over-indulgence. On Friday, get back to healthy eating, exercise and portion control. 

From all of us at Horizon Family Medicine to you, happy Thanksgiving.

May your holiday be filled with love, joy, and thankfulness.

We are certainly thankful for you.