By Sheryl Kraft
A reason to celebrate. Travel. Visit. Take a few days off from work.
And eat … and eat some more.
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But with all the fun and celebration can also come the inevitable I've-eaten-too- much-and-feel-oh-so-out-of-sorts. Aside from that, hectic travel (can you really stay cool facing long lines or being stuck in traffic?) and family reunions can be fraught with anxiety and stress.
What it can all add up to is a body thrown out of whack. But it doesn't have to be that way.
How can you keep the thanks in your Thanksgiving and make sure the day --- and the days following --- keep you smiling and happy?
1. Don't starve. With a big feast looming, you may be tempted to save all your calories for that one sit-down and skip breakfast and lunch. But don't: come mealtime, you'll be starving and it'll be tougher to make smart food choices.
Better: Stick to your normal routine as much as possible; eat a healthy breakfast and lunch containing a combination of protein and whole grains. If you'll be cooking in the kitchen, keep a supply of cutup veggies or almonds handy, so you won't be tempted to dig into the snack mix. (That's for later.)
2. Set aside time for exercise. You may be busy cooking and think you need to put this low on your priority list, but don't: the day can be more than just about food. Any movement matters! Take a break to get outside early in the day, weather permitting, even if it's just for a 10-minute walk. If the weather won't cooperate, do some deep breathing along with some yoga and stretching to relax you. If you need a dose of energy, run up and down the stairs a few times, or alternate jumping jacks with running in place.
3. Don't sit around post-dinner. After the big meal, rather than sitting around feeling sluggish and about to burst, grab some people and go out for a brisk walk -- not only can it burn some calories, but it also puts you in a healthy mindset, maybe even making it easier to resist dipping into an extra helping of pecan pie. Can't go out? Stand up and socialize -- it'll get your circulation moving and stave off the post-meal bloat and sleepiness.
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4. Do the dishes. If you're the host, you'll naturally be cleaning up. But if you're the guest, offer to help: clear the table, sweep the floor or vacuum the rug, wash and dry the dishes. Not only will it keep you away from the food and mindless picking, but it'll keep you on your feet and can even burn some calories at the same time. And it goes without saying that your host will feel enormous gratitude, too.
5. Eat everything you want. But less of it. You don't want to feel deprived, nor do you want to feel stuffed or feel like beating yourself up the next day. Instead, take small golf ball-sized portions of the goodies, chew slowly and savor each bite.
MORE: Simple Food Swaps for Healthy Holiday Eating