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North Hills Monthly

Give Thanks without Giving Up Your Healthy Habits

Nov 01, 2016 06:59AM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine
Danielle Tyson, owner of

Danielle is the owner of, an online platform geared towards busy professionals to help them achieve success by filling their plates with nutrient-dense meals and consistent activity. Coming from the corporate world, she understands the role of nutrition in fueling everyday life and is a true believer in the power of whole foods to treat and prevent disease. She is a certified personal trainer and studying to be a Nutritional Therapy Consultant.

By Danielle Tyson

It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us! It’s time to welcome the bountiful foods and treats that become nostalgic centerpieces of family gatherings. There is absolutely no better smell than that of a house on Thanksgiving Day. Combine that with the sounds coming from the living room of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and football, and you have yourself a good old-fashioned American holiday.

For those of us who have been making healthy choices or who have JUST started incorporating whole foods, mindful eating and exercise into our family’s routine, the holidays, which typically kick off at Thanksgiving, can cause anxiety because of the fear of derailing all of that hard work. Grandma is surely going to bring her world-famous pecan pie and between your aunt, sister-in-law and your neighbor, you may have two or more parties to attend...on the same day!

The good news is that you don’t have to give up EVERYTHING that you love. However, making a plan and committing to being mindful about your health around the holidays can make a big difference. Here are a few tips to ensure you stay on track with your goals without offending your family or turning down the things you love most on Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays.

Eat the pie
You would think that most nutritional consultants would suggest avoiding sweet treats, but many of us would probably agree that complete abstinence is typically not feasible or sustainable. Eating a small amount of a particular food may actually be better for you in the long run. The problem is that sugar is extremely addictive, as we now know, so savoring and enjoying each bite and then feeling satisfied with your choice and willpower will leave you feeling much better than the snowball sweet train that can quickly run off the tracks. 


Between overly-salty foods, spiked cider and wine, you may find yourself more dehydrated this time of year. The easiest rule of thumb is to carry a water bottle around with you with filtered water to sip throughout the day, but avoid drinking too much water during meals as it can dilute digestion. And this trick really does work—for every alcoholic beverage you drink, have eight ounces of water in between.
This could be as simple (and fun) as power-walking around the mall on Black Friday. Kill two birds with one stone—get the good deals faster and increase your heart rate for a little retail cardio. And while you’re at it, take the stairs! Feeling really ambitious? Sign up for the Seneca Valley Cross Country Turkey Chase on Thanksgiving Day to kick off those healthy habits.

 Veg-Out (in the literal sense)
Unfortunately, there’s typically not a plethora of fresh or grilled vegetables at the dinner table on thanksgiving, so take what you can get! If you are at a party with a veggie tray or a salad, try to load up on that first so that when it comes time to eat, you aren’t starving and reaching for ALL THE CARBS. But seriously, don’t pass up the sweet potato pie. Also, bringing your own plant-based side dish (balsamic Brussels sprouts, apple and kale salad or honey roasted carrots) is a great option that even non-veggie enthusiasts will love. 

Get right back on track

I typically like to schedule a workout class for the weekend of Thanksgiving. Orangetheory Fitness in Wexford has excellent 60-minute interval classes to get your heart thumping! And, along with exercise comes healthy meal prep. Why not make it easy on yourself and head over to Soergel’s afterwards and pick up pre-prepared meals from Pittsburgh Fresh?