Ever Eat Too Much on Thanksgiving? Here’s How to Avoid That Uncomfortably Full Feeling

The holidays are right around the corner and that means extra food, lots of it. Ever over eat on Thanksgiving? If so, join the club!

Whether it is turkey, mashed potatoes or green bean casserole, there’s no shortage of nibbles to stuff your belly with. And let’s be honest, it’s a socially acceptable day to indulge. But should you? Probably not.

If your stomach is hurting because of too much food, it has been pushed beyond capacity. On Thanksgiving, people can consume anywhere from 2,400 up to 3,000 calories during the meal, depending on the food and drinks consumed.

Well, here’s some food for thought: Cara Mitchell, a Registered Dietitian who specializes in weight loss at Lahey Health’s Center for Medical Weight loss, has four healthy eating tips for those of us who like to indulge.

1. Do not skip meals.

Cara says one thing to help keep your consumption in check is, in fact, eating. “Don’t have the big Thanksgiving meal be the first time you eat during the day,” she said. Have a balanced breakfast and a light lunch. “Choose something with protein that promotes satiety so that you won’t be starving when you sit down to the Thanksgiving meal. Entering any meal feeling too hungry will have a negative impact on your ability to make healthy choices and effectively control your portion sizes.”

2. View Thanksgiving as any other day.

Cara advised, to avoid overeating you should view Thanksgiving as you would any other day. It is important to remember that, “it takes at least 25 minutes after finishing a meal to fully digest and be able to recognize fullness,” so Cara suggested waiting at least that long before thinking about returning for seconds. One trick Cara recommended to help regulate portion size was, “using a small plate and filling the majority of your plate with protein and vegetables.”

3. Exercise in the morning.

Exercise releases endorphins which increases energy levels and improves mood. It also helps to manage stress in the event some family members (in-laws, perhaps?) may provoke anxiety. Cara says that, “exercising on Thanksgiving morning is an effective way to start the day off on the right foot and do something that benefits your physical and mental health.”

4. Beware of “sneaky” calories.

Depending on your Thanksgiving plans, Cara cautions that you may be faced with “sneaky” calories throughout the day. Whether they are found in the appetizer spread, or on the festive drink table, it is easy to find yourself consuming lots of calories before you even factor in the dinner. Cara recommends practicing mindfulness and developing strategies to avoid these calorie traps. For example, she suggested opting for healthier appetizers such as the shrimp cocktail or vegetable platter, and avoiding the snacks that are high in carbohydrates and saturated fat. She cautioned that, “alcohol will not only add extra calories to your day but will also decrease your ability to make smart and healthy food choices, so it is best to drink plenty of water in addition to any alcohol consumed, while also trying to limit yourself to one or two drinks.”

For more information and tips on how to eat mindfully throughout the holiday season, contact your Lahey Health provider.


*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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