The Best Post-Thanksgiving Eating Plan

Aly Walansky
Photo: Jennifer Boggs/Blend Images/Getty Images

Photo: Jennifer Boggs/Blend Images/Getty Images

Indulgence is all but guaranteed on Thanksgiving each year. We all eat a bit too much fat, sugar, carbs, what have you—and it’s delicious. It’s fine to have those special occasions where our healthy eating plans take a hiatus, but the important thing is that we make sure to follow up with renewed efforts as soon as the holiday ends. After all, Christmas is only a month away …

Start during the weekend.
Put aside time to exercise during the Thanksgiving weekend, and try to avoid over-eating too much by limiting yourself to the “special dishes” unique to Thanksgiving. Leave behind the regular dishes that you can eat on a regular basis, like bread, says certified dietitian Ilanit Sananes of Kitchenbug.

Drink water.
Drink plenty of water the week after Thanksgiving, specifically a couple of glasses before each meal, says Sananes. Be sure to consume enough water during the Thanksgiving weekend, too.

Plan your meals.
This is the number one tip to eating healthily in general: Plan your meals at the beginning of the week, and make sure you have the ingredients you need for every day. You’ll be less likely to reach for whatever snack is lying around and more likely to follow your healthy eating plan if you have everything you need readily available, says Sananes.

Don’t starve yourself.
The worst thing you can do post-holiday binge is crash diet or starve yourself, says Joanne Perez, MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian/nutritionist and nutrition coach. Instead, go back to eating a healthy diet that involves plenty of whole foods. Start with a breakfast that includes some protein, whole grains, and fruit. Try snacks and meals like whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a banana, scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast, and melon or oatmeal with berries and milk.

Eat real foods!
Post holiday, the best thing you can do is to get back to eating a “real foods diet,” says Heather Carey, MS, a culinary nutritionist. That means you should concentrate your efforts on consuming vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Keep your food simple, and concentrate on the nutrients you are getting—fasting, detoxing, juice cleansing, or strict dieting post-holiday never works in the long run, says Carey. Those methods don’t teach you how to eat or how to eat foods that will make you feel good, so they’ll only leave you hungry and irritable, and set you up for justifying another chow down.

Avoid the double whammy and work out early.
Try to get your workouts completed early in the day. It’ll keep you focused on making healthier life choices as the day goes on as well, says CLAY Health Club + Spa Fitness Director Rob Avellan. Early workouts will enable you to consume additional calories without them having such a negative impact on your body. Typically, people that normally workout later in the day will miss their workouts entirely due to holiday events … and at said events, you’ll then consume more calories than the normal average day. This is the double whammy effect of low caloric output and high caloric intake. If you can’t fight both whammies, at least fight one.

Read more: Thanksgiving Staples You Can Enjoy Without the Guilt