Surviving Turkey Day: 3 Tips for Overcoming the Urge to Overeat

Three tips for surviving Thanksgiving Day

Last week I talked to you about staying fit through the holidays by increasing your walks, rather than waiting until January 1st to try to repair the damage of extra rich holiday meals.

This week I'd like to address strategies to help you survive the onslaught of family and food on Thanksgiving Day.  First and foremost, let's all try to remember what Thanksgiving Day is really about:  giving thanks.  Siince Thanksgiving Day can be stressful for many people, I realized that there are three basic tips to surviving the meal itself.

Exercise before you go & drink water. 
Try to squeeze in as much exercise as possible before and after Turkey Day.  Either walk, ride your back, or go to a fitness class.  Many gyms are open until noon on Thanksgiving Day and many people offer classes on Black Friday.  Besides keeping you hydrated, drinking water will help you eat less.

Don't arrive overly hungry. 
Eat a light breakfast and perhaps a mid-day snack before Thanksgiving dinner, which many people serve around 3:00.  That way you won't be as tempted to take the second helping of potatoes or pie.  Try to fill your plate with healthy foods like the vegetables rather than the carbohydrate-rich potatoes.

Bring games.
If you feel comfortable doing so, let your host or hostess know beforehand that you'd love to share your new game...a Sudoku challenge, Scrabble, Jeopardy, Charades, whatever.  The idea is to take the focus away from the table as quickly as possible.

Just keeping fitness at the forefront of your mind is the first step towards staying fit on Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays, and being willing to concoct your own fitness holiday strategies will go a long way towards keeping you fit.

Janice Litvin is a Fitness Educator and can be reached at Facebook.com/ZumbaContraCosta.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jim Caroompas (Editor) November 19, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Great post, Janice. Thanks. My Thanksgiving survival strategy is to eat breakfast, a light lunch, and then to have a certain amount of protein, vegetable and starch for dinner. No sugar. No flour. I find that approach keeps me from frenzy eating, which I am inclined, even compelled to do if I indulge in the sugar drug. And T-day is one of several holidays where you can easily give yourself permission to do a lot of damage to your body. Focus on the gratitude and the company. Or see it as just another day. Focusing on the food is a path, in the short term, to a night of food coma, and in the long term, to serious health issues.
Janice Litvin November 19, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Well said, Jim. Thanks.
Jim G. November 20, 2012 at 12:39 AM
I take the opposite approach. According to an article I read in the New York Times a few years ago, which I choose to believe in this case, it is practically impossible to gain more than a pound in any single 24 hour period no matter how much you eat. Your body simply will not absorb the calories. Obesity is a result of long term overeating and under exercising. Furthermore, food, even sugar, is not a poison and cannot really do you any harm in the short term. If you deny yourself indulgences all the time then what is the point of life. I pick one day a year, Thanksgiving, to just eat my way to bliss. Sure, I will have a second helping of mashed potatoes (maybe a third) and at least two pieces of pie.
Janice Litvin November 20, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Thank you for your perspective, Jim G. I, myself have gained probably 2 pounds from one event, especially if there are desserts and wine involved. A long time ago, a wise elderly woman told me that over-indulgence in sugar has the same result on the body as becoming inebriated, in terms of how the body processes the extra sugar. On the other hand, you seem to have a solid perspective on allowing yourself to indulge once in awhile. The article is geared towards those who indulge all the time and are working at learning how to have a good time without the morning-after guilt. It's about learning portion control and changing a lifetime of poor eating habits. Thanks again for your perspective.
Jim G. November 20, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Janice I also appreciate the perspective of changing poor eating habits. When I retired 3 1/2 years ago I got serious about losing weight which meant I got serious about watching what I eat. I am very aware of the calorie content of pretty much every mouthful I eat. I measure portions with a measuring cup or weigh portions with a scale. On the exercise side I wear a fancy pedometer called a Fitbit which tracks my steps and flights of stairs climbed and converts that to calorie burn. I managed to lose 50 pounds and have kept that off for almost 3 years now. I am in the 12th percentile for weight for folks of my gender, height and age - which means 88% of those folks weighs more than me. Thanksgiving is my day off.
Janice Litvin November 20, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Thanks for sharing your personal history. I'm so proud of your efforts, especially in regard to keeping control by using your FitBit. I just uploaded one to my website today. One of my Zumba students wears hers all the time & tracks everything with it, even Zumba steps. Keep up the good work and let me know how it went after Thursday. You could probably teach all of us a thing or two.
c5 November 20, 2012 at 06:07 PM
i like over eating on thanksgiving! i'm pretty disciplined around diet and exercise generally, but that doesn't mean there are no exceptions. the ability to break the habit on occasion makes the discipline most other days easier, at least for me. that, and i am probably going on a short but grueling mtn bike ride that morning.... :)
Trixie November 20, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Eat like a European, till you're satisfied, not like an American, till you're stuffed!
Bob Brittain November 20, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I walked 31 miles over the last three days so that I can have seconds on Thanksgiving.
Chris J Kapsalis November 21, 2012 at 01:05 AM
YOu have to walk 100 yards to burn off the calories from just one m&m. Just some food for thought.
Janice Litvin November 21, 2012 at 01:18 AM
I think many people overeat on Thanksgiving. It sounds like you're on the right track with exercising first. That is my strategy, as well, exercising that day and the next day and the day before. Thanks for your comments.
Janice Litvin November 21, 2012 at 01:18 AM
If only we Americans could learn that, Trixie.
Janice Litvin November 21, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Well done, Bob.
Janice Litvin November 21, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Love it, Chris, both the M&M's and the walking.


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