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Thanksgiving is a day where the country eats as if they seek to join the parade of Macy’s Day balloons—expanding and expanding in size until they can fly away in their stretchy pants.

According to the Calorie Council, the average American will consume 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving—and that’s just for dinner. Factor in appetizers and dessert, and you’re bringing your total up to about 4,500 calories. For some people, that’s almost double their recommended daily intake.

But we aren’t trying to make you feel bad about your Thanksgiving feast! There are so few opportunities in life to eat two different slices of pie at once without judgement. Grab the day by the cornucopia horns.

We just want you to make good choices and not come out on the other side of the holiday feeling like your brain and body is mashed potatoes. Because according to a Cornell University study, the average American’s weight rises 0.2 percent over the Thanksgiving holiday. Half of the weight you gain during the holiday season will stick around on your body into summer, too.

You can get through the holiday without any lasting negative side-effects. We promise! We’ve outlined three tips below to stay healthy over Thanksgiving that are as simple as store-bought pie crust.

Start the day with exercise

Thanksgiving has become the biggest race day in America. There were over 1 finishers in Turkey Trots across the country in 2017—and for good reason. Exercising boosts your metabolism and puts you in a better position for your marathon meal.

Building lean muscle increases the number of calories your body burns while at rest (AKA your resting metabolic rate). Sof you hit it hard in the morning, you’ll reap the benefits for hours after as your body burns calories returning to its baseline breathing rates and core temperature in post-exercise oxygen consumption. Exercise also regulates your appetite by reducing your hunger hormones (ghrelin) while simultaneously increasing your satiety hormones.

Brigham Young University researchers have also found that people who work out in the morning are more active in general during the day. So a morning workout on Thanksgiving can be the difference between falling asleep on the couch after dinner or playing with nephews and nieces.

Just keep in mind that a 5K run typically only burns about 300-500 calories. So while we know it’s hard, consider the life-long benefits to sticking to a fitness routine during the holidays.

Let our expert exercise physiologist at Elitra Health Center help you develop a fitness plan you’ll actually stick to. They’ll take into account your lifestyle and your schedule to help you figure out where you can sneak in a quick five-minutes on days when your house and schedule are jam-packed.

Our exercise physiologist will also lead you through a body composition and muscle mass analysis to make sure you’re only doing exercises that are safe and effective for you. You don’t have time to waste—on the treadmill or at the chiropractor.

Make smarter food choices

We aren’t telling you to limit yourself on the best eating day of the year. We just want you to give portion control a minute of thought. It’ll help you enjoy your favorites while controlling your weight, as research shows it’s more effective to increase your intake of foods low in energy density (so, calories) while limiting your portions of high-energy-dense foods. This means adding an extra scoop of roasted veggies and halving your slice of pecan pie.

You can also make some simple tweaks that will shave down your mountains of calories.

Instead of filling up on cheeses and cocktail wieners as your appetizers, go for a shrimp or jumbo lump crab cocktail—a delicious, high-protein treat that’s low on calories. With your stuffing, maybe don’t add the sausage this year and leave the bacon out of the brussel sprouts. If you plan to drink, stick to wine and alcohol neat to avoid consuming too many liquid calories.

If you’re on a strict diet for health reasons and need help avoiding landmines during the holidays, let us lend a hand.

Our registered nutritionist will guide you through our health and wellness education program to teach you how to make impactful and delicious swaps. With the holidays being so busy, our nutritionist can plan and outline meal and snack solutions to free up your time.

We’ll keep you from leaning on fast food options or grazing the cookie tray as meals, and you’ll meet your health goals without even having to think about them.

Don’t sacrifice your sleep schedule

Just because Santa can stay up all Christmas delivering presents doesn’t mean skimping on sleep is a good habit to get into over the holidays.

Research shows that a lack of sleep leads to increased levels of hunger hormone and decreased levels of satiety hormones that let you know when you are full. You’re more likely to overeat and, on top of that, make poor dietary choices.

You’re also eating more than you body needs in order to generate energy to stay awake longer into the night and pushing you body into a cycle of low physical activity, as you don’t have the energy stores to push you through a workout. It’s one bad decision that snowballs into an avalanche of additional negative decisions and effects.

Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep. If that sounds impossible, take a deep look at your schedule and remember that you don’t have to go to everything you might feel obligated to attend this holiday season. You’re allowed to enforce your boundaries and tell people no.

For those who find yourselves tossing and turning all night, our expert team at Elitra Health Center can take you through a full review of your stress and behavioral health to address the root causes. We’ll handle scheduling any follow-up appointments for sleep testing, and we’ll get you off to dreamland at a reasonable hour.

Because we want to wish a happy holiday to all and to all a good night.

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