Tip: Have a more nourishing Thanksgiving this year by focusing on family, expressing gratitude, savoring your food and getting your body moving.

By the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group

Thanksgiving was originally a time to gather with family and friends to express thanks for the year’s harvest and reflect on everything the Pilgrims were grateful for. But as we celebrate it today, Thanksgiving revolves largely around the Thanksgiving feast – and very few of us are thankful for the extra pounds and overstuffed feeling it leaves us with! This year, take steps to make Thanksgiving a holiday your body will thank you for – refocus on spending time with loved ones, reflect on all you are grateful for, fit in some physical activity and enjoy the feast mindfully.

Start Your Day with a Turkey Trot

While the turkey is roasting, take the opportunity to enjoy the fall weather and get active. Participate in a local turkey trot, organize a family football or soccer game in the backyard or take a walk around the neighborhood before the feast begins. New research suggests that exercise may actually lessen your appetite, leading you to eat less later in the day – so that Turkey Trot may actually keep you from overindulging in the turkey.

Express Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to gather with family and friends and reflect on the things you are grateful for. Expressing gratitude not only feels good, it actually offers a range of benefits. Studies show that individuals who routinely reflect on what they are grateful for are happier, more empathetic, sleep better, have higher self-esteem, feel healthier and experience less depression. Incorporate gratitude into your family’s Thanksgiving tradition. Have each person at the table express one thing they are thankful for. Print out quotes of gratitude on place cards and read them aloud. The possibilities are limitless and fulfilling!

Savor the Feast

Make these smart choices for a delicious, nourishing Thanksgiving feast that won’t leave you feeling like a stuffed turkey.

  • Try something new – You may not be able to imagine Thanksgiving without Great-Grandma’s stuffing, but you can supplement your traditional Thanksgiving meal with more nutritious options. Chef Marshall’s Butternut Squash & Wild Rice Pilaf is a colorful, nourishing addition to the Thanksgiving table. It highlights seasonal ingredients like vitamin A-rich butternut squash, antioxidant-loaded cranberries and apple cider for a slightly sweet, exceedingly yummy side dish.
  • Choose wisely – Opt for the dishes that most appeal to you, but skip store-bought items such as desserts that are full of processed ingredients and excess added sugars – they don’t taste as good as homemade anyway.
  • Take small portions – On your first go-around, take small portions of foods you want to try. Once you have tasted everything, you can decide which dishes are worth a second helping.
  • Eat mindfully – When you eat mindfully, you enjoy your food more, digest your food better and are less likely to overeat. Take a moment to settle yourself before you start eating, put down your fork between bites, and chew and swallow fully before taking another mouthful. Pay full attention to the smell, taste and texture of each bite. Thanksgiving dinner never tasted so good!

Thanksgiving Without the Stuffing

When you focus on family and friends, get your body moving, add nourishing options to your Thanksgiving table and savor your food, you will have a Thanksgiving you can be grateful for. Let the turkey be the only one that’s ‘stuffed’ on Thanksgiving. Your body will thank you.

You will love the way you feel!

Chef Marshall O’BrienThe Chef Marshall O’Brien Group is a dedicated assembly of professionals based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, committed to the goal of using nutrition to get kids and families to lead happier, healthier lives.