Sometimes referred to as “Turkey Day,” Thanksgiving is often as much about the feast as anything else. A Thanksgiving Day binge is a yearly tradition for many Americans. According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American Thanksgiving dinner is often between 3,000 and 4,500 calories, including appetizers, drinks, and dessert. It’s surprisingly easy for the calories to add up with so many tempting dishes laid out on the table. So, on the day after Thanksgiving, if you find yourself feeling overly stuffed and regretting the second slice of pie in which you indulged, don’t lose heart. One day of overeating doesn’t have to overset your health or mark the end of your healthy lifestyle goals. Use these tips to recover from your Thanksgiving binge and get back on track for the rest of the year.
Return to a healthy routine.
Overindulging on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to give in for the rest of the year. Pumpkin pie won’t make a good breakfast the day after the holiday. Instead choose a healthy breakfast with fruit and healthy protein. Thanksgiving leftovers can be used for healthy meals instead of another reason to binge, so look for ways to use your leftovers that keep your fat and sugar intake down.
Find ways to get right back into your exercise routine. Even if you don’t make it to the gym, you can plan a family hike, bike ride, or friendly game of football. Fall has many wonderful opportunities for taking advantage of the weather by exercising outside. If the weather is bad, you can also have a family dance party or yoga class. A long holiday weekend doesn’t have to be an excuse to lie on the couch.
Avoid the opposite extreme.
After a Thanksgiving binge, the last thing you should do is swing too far the opposite direction. Hitting the gym with increased vigor or trying out a long-distance run for the first time will increase your risk of injury or overdoing it. You’ll end up stuck on the couch, either from muscles too sore to move or from hurting yourself. Dialing up your exercise suddenly is often unsustainable, as well. If you want to increase your physical regimen, do it gradually.
Similarly, combatting a Thanksgiving binge with a barebones diet is not the best option. This will most likely lead to caving to your fatty and sugary food cravings and overeating when your hunger proves too much for your self-control. It can also lead to an unhealthy pattern of bingeing followed by restrictive diets. Extreme calories restrictions are rarely sustainable according to research. Returning to or committing to a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins is usually a better, healthier option for recovering from an indulgent holiday feast.
Focus on your success, not failure.
Yes, you may have eaten about two days of calories in one afternoon. That doesn’t mean you should plunge into a state of guilt. Instead, combat your after-Thanksgiving-binge shame with healthy food that will get you back on track physically and mentally. Don’t get caught in a cycle of overeating, regret, eating your feelings away, and even more regret and shame. Take each day, each meal, one at a time. All you need to think about it is the meal at hand. No matter what your last meal looked like, you can choose a healthy one for this moment. Recognize your accomplishment, and feel proud of good choices when you make them.
Help yourself out and stock your fridge and pantry with healthy fruits and vegetables. Find healthy holiday recipes that allow the same comfort without the accompanying guilt.
To help you start off well, here are some healthy recipes for those Thanksgiving leftovers.
Gluten-Free Turkey Pot Pie
A comforting Gluten-Free Turkey Pot Pie made from scratch using leftover turkey, carrots, onion, peas and a creamy, smooth gravy like sauce. This is an easy way to use up that leftover turkey. Get the recipe here.
Turkey Cranberry Sandwiches
This upgraded sandwich recipe is higher in protein than most, dairy free, and completely free of cheese and even mayo. And not only does it use your leftover turkey- but your cranberries as well! Try this one out and it will be one more item to add to your tradition list. Get the recipe here.