5 Healthy Thanksgiving Traditions To Start This Year

By Matthew Cenzon. May 7th 2016

Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends, a time for giving, a time for being thankful, and a time for traditions passed down through generations. It is a joyous occasion, resplendent with a feast of delicious food and good cheer. That is, until you step on the weighing scale and notice you've gained a significant amount of weight from too much turkey, candied yams and pumpkin pie. If you're looking to avoid the weight-gain from the holiday season, you might want to start out with a new batch of healthy Thanksgiving traditions for this year.

1. Thanksgiving Day Brunch

In preparation for a night of overeating, many people have their own personal tradition of completely starving themselves before Thanksgiving dinner. That way, when it's time to eat, they can stuff themselves with as much food as possible. To counter this unhealthy tradition that leads to binge eating and excess calories, start a new Thanksgiving tradition of having brunch on Thanksgiving Day. A healthy and nutritious brunch will prevent people from feeling famished before dinner, and will help them with portion control.

If you're worried about hosting two meals on one of the busiest days in the kitchen, consider going out for brunch. Or, you can start a second tradition by having people over early for brunch, then getting them to help you prepare for Thanksgiving dinner afterwards.

2. Thanksgiving Day Marathons

More and more Thanksgiving Day marathons have begun to pop up around the country, and are being coined as the "Turkey Trot." Start a healthy Thanksgiving tradition by having members of your family sign up for the nearest Turkey Trot to get in a good workout before Thanksgiving dinner, which will also allow everyone to feast guilt-free. Those who can't participate in these Thanksgiving walks or runs can cheer for friends and family members from the sidelines.

According to Active.com, Thanksgiving is one of the busiest race days of the year, rivaling even the Fourth of July. There are plenty of runs to participate it, from beach runs to traditional marathons. Many of these races are short, typically in the five kilometer (5k) range. Check your local city or county website for local Turkey Trots, or search online for the nearest one in your area. And don't worry, there will be plenty of time for pumpkin pie since these races are held in the morning, before Thanksgiving dinner.

3. Diet-Friendly Dinner

Family recipes and signature dishes that have been passed down through generations are a classic Thanksgiving tradition. However, not all of these dishes are good for Uncle Joe's diabetes, or Aunt Jane's high cholesterol. For this year's Thanksgiving dinner, try whipping up some diet-friendly versions of your favorite Thanksgiving foods. If you can't bear to alter your great-grandmother's candied yams, just save a few extra yams and whip up a second dish without the marshmallows, sugar and maple syrup. Also think about creating dishes for guests who are vegetarian. Creating dishes that cater to all of your guests' dietary needs will

4. Get Active Before Dinner

Watching football is one of the most well-known Thanksgiving traditions, but you can take things to the next level and get everyone to be a little active before dinner with a family touch-football game. Family members who are less interested in watching football may be more inclined to participate in a family-friendly game where they can actually play. If your guests don't seem too enthusiastic about playing football, especially under adverse weather conditions, think of alternative activities that will get everyone up and moving before dinner. A biking trip, walk around the neighborhood or even a scavenger hunt are great ways to burn a few calories before filling up at dinner.

5. Serve the Meal in Courses

One of the reasons why people overeat on Thanksgiving is because they are able to stuff themselves with food that goes beyond their stomach's limitations. It's like everyone becomes a competitive eater on this one day in the year. Eating a massive amount of food at a rapid pace prevents the brain from sending signals to your body that it's full, allowing you to eat more and more without any problems.

Serving Thanksgiving dinner in set courses will allow people to properly digest and eat at a healthier pace. They will also be more inclined to actually chew their food, which will help with digestion. When people are trying to devour everything in sight, there is no time to talk between gobs of food in their gullets. A course meal will encourage your guests to share and converse, which is an important part of the Thanksgiving spirit. By the time you're ready to serve the main course, your guests should be nearly full, and are less likely to go overboard on the turkey and sides.


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