Carly Wopat: Make Thanksgiving healthy

Wednesdays with Wopat: How to Keep Thanksgiving Healthy While Still Enjoying it

Carly Wopat sets up for a bump set/Ed Chan,

By: Carly Wopat

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season rolling in fast, many of you are likely wondering how you can enjoy yourself without causing too much detriment to all the hard work you have put into your body and health. This is something that I have put some time and thought into, so I would like to share what works for me, and hopefully you can find some of it useful as well.  Here are my 6 tips on how to take on Turkey Day:


The best thing you can do the morning of Thanksgiving is get your heart rate up. The idea is to burn some calories and prime your body for the food you will be enjoying the rest of the day. You can go to the gym and get a workout in, play a sport, hike with your family, surf, run, swim etc.  There’s endless ways to get active and have fun. I like to do track workouts at La Playa Stadium in Santa Barbara with my brothers. La Playa is a gorgeous stadium by the beach, and has the perfect stairs for some epic stadium workouts.


Because Thanksgiving typically consists of a large meal in the afternoon, it is a good idea to eat lightly until then. For those of you who routinely intermittent fast, this is the perfect day to do so. Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating consisting of an 8-hour feeding window and a 16-hour fasting window, with many benefits including hormone regulation, cellular repair, and gene expression. Simply put, you don’t eat for the first half of the day, so you can eat more in the second half of the day. I typically intermittent fast with black coffee and water, go train, and then make a recovery smoothie around noon to break the fast. Then I’ll have some light snacks to hold me off until Thanksgiving meal. 


Strap on an apron and get your booty in the kitchen. Helping prepare the food gives you insight on the ingredients included in everything, and it provides perspective on all the effort and production that goes into making the meal. You’ll have greater appreciation for the food on the table, and you’ll be less likely to over-indulge. Additionally, you can make decisions to avoid certain dishes because of the amount of sugar the recipe included, etc. Sometimes it can be hard to find healthy options, and that is all the more reason to get in the kitchen and make your own! Some ideas on things to cook: sweet potatoes with coconut butter & cinnamon, roasted brussel sprouts with olive oil and sea salt, green bean salad in a dijon vinaigrette. I recommend consulting Google, because there are lots of nutritious & delicious recipes out there.  


I know we all need a little something in the system to last a full day with the family… but try to limit yourself to a couple beverages. Keep in mind that alcohol does nothing good for you. Liquid calories are empty calories, and your liver has to prioritize metabolizing alcohol before it can metabolize anything else. Therefore, over-indulging on both alcohol and food is surely going to wreak some havoc on your body. If I do drink, I typically enjoy having a couple glasses of organic red wine (cabernets are my favorite), or alcoholic kombucha.  


Just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you get to toss everything you know about nutrition into the wind! Fill up your plate with the good stuff first. I load up on turkey, veggies, and salad initially. Then I’ll go back and try some of the other dishes once I am already decently full on what I know is good for me.


How many of you often make a meal and then sit down in front of the TV to eat it? Or perhaps answer text messages and scroll through Instagram in between bites? I know I am guilty. The problem is that this is not mindful eating. If you want to make the most out of your meal, pay attention to it.  Be mindful of each bite, and the smells, tastes, and textures that come with it. Take note of what you like and don’t like. Be present and enjoy the simple act of eating a meal with your family. We make fun of my youngest brother, Eli, because he eats so fast, there’s no way he chews his food. I’ve studied him, and I’m pretty sure he just takes a bite and swallows it. It’s kind of amazing. But, this is not a great way to eat. Take your time. Talk with people around the table. And remember how fortunate you are to be there, surrounded by loved ones, sharing a meal. So much to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!