Every Thanksgiving morning I stand in front of my closet trying to decide if wearing yoga pants to our family turkey day is appropriate, then remember that we tend to take a slew of pictures, and choose a cute fall dress instead.

Oh, but I pack those stretchy pants, don’t get it twisted. It’s impossible to be comfortable on the couch in a dress. That’s just science. 

This year I have decided to attempt a less “so-uncomfortable-I-might-vomit” situation for a healthier version by setting some rules, making some changes, and promising to move more than from the dining room table to the couch. Although….if that’s your exercise for the day…no judgement. Been there, done that. Usually with apple pie in hand.

So without further ado, here are some things I am planning to do this year and I hope my ideas inspire you to adapt some boundaries as well…for the sake of our fancy holiday party attire that we have to squeeze into the following weeks.

Eat breakfast

If your family is like mine, we tend to drink coffee for the first three hours of the day, snack on appetizers while we wait for the serious stuff to finish cooking, then pile our plates high with all of the quintessential turkey day goodies. Even writing that makes me want a nap. But this year I am going to cook breakfast for the family as a way of limiting the horrible decision-making that results from too much coffee and not enough protein later in the day.

Ideas: If you want to stay on theme I recommend these yummy Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal breakfast bars or this easy Pumpkin Oatmeal recipe. Another great option for cooking for a group is a simple breakfast casserole like this healthy veggie-packed one. If you’re looking for something a little less labor-intensive, scramble some eggs, pop some turkey bacon in the oven, buy a fruit platter, and toast a little wheat bread. Whatever you choose, hopefully it will discourage us from eating every canapé we see while the turkey roasts.

Cut Calories in Recipes

This is the cheat section of the blog. Did you know that you can use splenda in place of sugar when baking? I’ve used it for cakes, cookies, scones, etc. and never had any issues with it. And cutting that awful processed sugar makes for a very satisfied sweet tooth. Just make sure you follow the directions on the packaging to ensure you make the correct adjustments for it (usually it’s about 1/2 the amount of regular sugar).

Another great swap is greek yogurt in dips, mashed potatoes, or anything with sour cream. Greek yogurt is generally lower in fat content and higher in protein but still has the great tang of sour cream. I tend to substitute it anywhere I see sour cream on the ingredients list, including pasta sauces and even cheesecake. This low-calorie gravy recipe is a legit winner that uses greek yogurt so check it out to lighten up one of the best (and heaviest) parts of the meal.

You can also make big changes by purchasing low sodium and sugar-free options of pre-cooked items such as broth, beans, and stuffing mixes. These seem small but will pack a punch so always compare labels. Also, if you’re a cranberry-sauce-out-of-the-can aficionado (ahem, my husband), there are sugar-free options aplenty!

Compromise

This tip is great to slow you down and make you think about what you’re putting on your plate (or ultimately in your mouth). I do a lot of, “ok I am having pecan praline yams but that means no pecan pie later” or “I will eat all of the green veggies on my plate before I dive into the mashed potatoes drowned in gravy” hoping that I won’t have as much room for the butter-soaked fluffy goodness that my brother makes. I also recommend sharing goodies with someone else to cut your calorie intake (but you actually have to share).

This tip is applicable in everyday eating too and is something I use on a regular basis to ensure I satisfy cravings without going overboard. And it really works! I never feel like I am shorted anything because I got something out of it that I really wanted. Plus, if you use my tupperware tip below it makes it easier to compromise. “I won’t eat three pieces of pie right now, I’ll share a slice with my husband and take the other two with us for later.” WIN-WIN Y’ALL.

Move around, even just a little

Take a walk. Go outside with the kiddos. Recreate the Friends Thanksgiving football game (bonus points for making your own Gellar Cup, please send us pics). Just do something to move your body. Even an aggressive game of Charades counts (is there any other kind?). My family likes to bust out the Wii and yell at each other through a few rounds of bowling which is an awesome way to move around and not feel like you’re exercising. Trust me, any sort of movement is going to feel much better than an entire day sitting/reclining/snoozing/stretching out your good jeans.

I fully recognize that there are people out there who get up horribly early to run a local race on holidays and if this is your thing, good on you! If you’ve ever wanted to try something like this, Austin hosts the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot every year that is supposed to be a blast. The best part? You got your movement in for the day, feel free to only move from kitchen to table to couch for the rest of the holiday.    

Bring tupperware

I love Thanksgiving leftovers. Like….a lot. Maybe more than I should. And so does my family so we always assign someone to bring reusable containers so that everyone gets to take some goodies home with them. This helps with the compromise too, since you can just tell yourself to take some pumpkin cheesecake with you instead of adding it to your sugar count for the day. Save some of those grams of sugar for boozy cider or wine cause you might need it being around your relatives for more than four hours straight.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF 

Seriously y’all, this is a huge holiday literally centered around food. Try to set some goals ahead of time so you have a plan going into the holiday to avoid any gravy overdoses but really just do your best, eat what you like, and if you go overboard SO WHAT. You can make it up in spin class next week or just shrug it off and love yourself like Lizzo tells us to. However your turkey day shakes out, remember that you’re human and that it’s not the end of the world. The self-cruelty is wayyyyy more damaging than the extra wine/pie/biscuits you had, I promise.

From all of us at IVitamin we want to wish our amazing clients and readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving! We are so very thankful for your continued support and look forward to many more years of serving our healthy Austin community.

Happy Turkey Day everyone!! 

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