Thanksgiving is all about food, friends and family, and it can be difficult to make healthy choices when you’re surrounded by a smorgasbord of good eats. Your friends at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center provide tips on how to make good decisions this holiday season.

Start your Thanksgiving off right
Have a healthy breakfast

In anticipation of a large meal, it may seem beneficial to eat only a light snack, or not at all, beforehand. However, this choice can throw your metabolism and blood sugar out of whack and cause you to overeat during lunch or dinner.

Instead of holding out for the big meal, have a balanced breakfast and a healthy snack, such as string cheese, nuts or fruit, every two or three hours to keep your body satiated.

Add some color to your plate

Rethink your plate

The centerpiece of any Thanksgiving celebration is the meal you share with your family or friends. With so many options to choose from, it’s normal to crave a helping of everything. This mentality can lead to overeating, likely causing fatigue and your post-meal nap. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to try everything on the table, but be sure to opt for smaller serving sizes, or if you afraid of missing out on a particularly delicious food item, save it for your next meal. Grabbing a smaller plate can keep you from overeating, and choosing high-fiber fruits and vegetables can help you feel full longer.

There are plenty of reasons why people may get a second helping of food during Thanksgiving, and very rarely is it because they are still hungry. Food envy and not allowing your body time to digest can both lead to the same outcome—a second plate. Try to resist the urge.

Have a glass of water frequently

Hydrate

Keeping hydrated is a great way to keep your metabolism running smoothly, and the body can confuse dehydration with hunger—which can have you reaching for more food. If you already had a normal serving of food, then try drinking a glass of water and waiting 10 minutes to see if your hunger persists.

Also, if your Thanksgiving has a game of touch football after lunch, staying hydrated will be important for having a healthy day. Even if the weather outside is cool, dehydration could become a risk if you’re outside and exercising too long.

A post-meal nap is almost tradition

Move past the food coma

Once you finish your meal, it may be tempting to just curl up in a ball and take a nap. However, fighting the urge to take a siesta can raise your heart rate and burn extra calories. Many cities offer holiday runs, walks and even kid walks so the whole family can participate.

If a big event isn’t your thing, a walk around the neighborhood for 15 or 20 minutes can be very beneficial. Some family competition with a football, basketball or Frisbee can keep everyone active.

Most importantly, enjoy the holiday!

Don’t let guilt hold you back

The holidays are about coming together and having fun. Instead of feeling guilty and overthinking your meals, just enjoy the holiday treats and food. One bad day won’t completely derail a healthy lifestyle. The days in between holidays are what build healthy habits, and healthy habits are hard to break too.

— Dominic Hernandez

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