As wonderful as it is to share a big Thanksgiving meal with family and friends, it can be hard to get back on a healthy diet track in the days that follow. But I know you can do it! While writing my latest best-selling weight-loss book, The Digest Diet, I discovered many research-backed ways to lose weight. Here are my favorite, surprising tips for battling post-feast tummy bulge. Gobble 'em up!
The big meal is over. Whatever you ate for Thanksgiving, forget about it; it's time to move on. Now, jumpstart your metabolism with a big glass of water every morning, and don't skip morning meals. ”Many people make the mistake of skipping breakfast the day after Thanksgiving, but that can slow your metabolism down by almost 10 percent,” says Tara Ostrowe, MS, RD, at Columbia University. So within an hour after waking up, “eat a breakfast rich in lean protein, and try to keep the fats and carbs low,” she says. I love low-cal, high-protein Mexican omelets with reduced-fat cheddar cheese, cilantro and chiles for a spicy fat-releasing kick. Note: You can and should have a big glass of water and a healthy breakfast every day, not just post-Thanksgiving!
“The excess pounds and bloat you feel the day after Thanksgiving isn’t just from the calories, but also from tons of salt,” explain Tammy Lakatos, RD, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD. “To get that flat stomach and flush out yesterday’s damage, stick to healthy treats and other fiber-rich foods, and you'll restore normal fluid balance for instant weight loss.” Lyssie chooses what I call the “Power Ps:" fiber-rich, healthy pomegranate seeds and pistachio nuts. These foods feel like a real splurge and take some effort to pry loose, which helps keep munching in check. Other power “Ps” include pears and prunes—or, really, any high-fiber foods. Just pass on the pie.
Because the average Thanksgiving plate (turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie) contains 900 calories, “you'll want to do an extra 30 minutes of vigorous cardio every day for three days after Thanksgiving” to burn it off, advises Ostrowe. Fighting Black Friday crowds can totally help you here: You'll torch between 100 and 200 calories an hour. (Plus, park away from the entrance and take the mall stairs for extra burn.) If shopping isn't your thing, get outdoors, and walk the meal off, enjoying the fall foliage. Squeezed for time? We've come up with one-minute fat releasing moves to sprinkle throughout the weekend.
Studies show that people eat a whopping 40 percent more food when watching TV than during other activities. Put down the chips! Put out a vegetable platter (sans the ranch dressing). A body of research out of Pennsylvania State University finds that eating water-rich foods such as zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers during meals reduces your overall calorie consumption. Whether you choose the ballgame or a movie marathon, make it more active by doing simple strength moves during commercial breaks. You can also throw the Nerf around the backyard at halftime. And go for a comedy or horror film if you can; research shows that an hour of laughing or (two of fear) is a bite-size cardio workout that melts as many calories as a half-hour at the gym.
Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to reconnect with old friends in town. Here's what I like to do to stay fit: Go for a walk together. Having your pal along will keep your stamina and spirits up—which translates to more mileage with less effort—and encourages you to keep a steady pace with each other. We'll also grab a glass of red wine, which contains resveratrol, an age-fighting nutrient that may improve exercise endurance and shield against weight gain. Friends not around? Try a relaxing activity that's as far away from the kitchen as possible.
By hitting the hay early and getting enough sleep, you help regulate your metabolism and keep cravings in check the next day. “If there’s one thing to stay consistent with over the next few weeks, it’s sleep. Give yourself a bedtime and stick with it,” says Keri Glassman, RD, MS. Can’t fall asleep? My go-to method works like a charm: Visualize yourself individually tracing each letter of the alphabet with a pencil, then taking a big eraser and, reversing the path you just mentally drew, erasing each as you progress along the alphabet. I never get past L!
Take a deep breath. The Thanksgiving feeding frenzy is over—at least for this year.
More from Reader's Digest:
Take advantage of this exclusive offer: