Let's rewrite a different Thanksgiving story this year. Instead of starving yourself all day, then gorging on all the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes — then feeling terrible — registered dietitian nutritionist and NASM-certified personal trainer Whitney English Tabaie, MS, is encouraging you to snack during the day instead. She doesn't want you to restrict yourself from the Thanksgiving foods you love. If you fuel yourself with nourishing foods prior to the big meal, it'll prevent "going into the feast starving, which could lead to negative food behaviors like binging," Whitney said.
"The idea is to allow people to feel in control of their Thanksgiving meal so they can enjoy it to the fullest versus a lot of Americans' strategy, which is to starve themselves all day, go way overboard at the meal, and then feel crappy after," Whitney said. The snack should include protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates; "something between 100 to 250 calories is ideal." Here are her recommendations:
- Savory ants on a log: Sliced bell peppers with hummus and diced olives. Fun and delicious for the whole family and packed with healthy nutrients.
- Whole-wheat crackers and black bean dip: Complex carbohydrates, fiber, and plant protein help provide that premeal satiety. Make black bean dip simply by combining cooked black beans, garlic powder, cumin, and a little salt in a food processor.
- Wholly Guacamole Minis with baby carrots: A balanced snack with fiber and healthy fat in a single-serving portion so you won't fill up too much before the big meal.
- Baked chickpeas: An easy snack to have out in a bowl for guests that is packed with plant protein. Switch up the spice mixture based on your preferences. Cinnamon and maple syrup make for a yummy sweet option.
- "Cheezy" popcorn: Popcorn is a whole grain that easily satisfies with its belly-filling fiber. Pop your own at home on the stovetop or by tossing a few tablespoons of kernels into a microwave-safe container with the lid on with some oil. When it's popped, add a drizzle or spray of olive oil, nutritional yeast, and a little sea salt for a savory, B-vitamin-packed (hello, energy) snack!
- Apple and chocolate hummus: Fiber, protein, and carbs that taste like dessert? Yes! Whip up your own chocolate dip using chickpeas, cocoa powder, dates, maple syrup, and cinnamon.
Whitney also said "make it so that the day's enjoyment isn't only about food!" She suggested doing a workout on Thanksgiving Day (it doesn't have to be a Turkey Trot, but it can be!), spending time outdoors having fun with your family, doing a craft project or playing a family game, or having a living room dance party.
When it comes time for dinner, enjoy it! Remember it's just one special day of the year, and sharing food with family and friends is important for your emotional well-being. Have a taste of everything, and definitely don't skimp on the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie — indulge and eat what you want! Take a walk after dinner, and the next day, don't beat yourself up. Just get back to your fitness and healthy eating routine.