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Aftermath: How to Get Eating Back On Track After Thanksgiving

By L.K. Regan

Thanksgiving is over, and the damage is done. What's been eaten has been eaten. So now what do you do to get back on track? For advice we turned to our regular nutritionist Manuel Villacorta. Manuel (MS, RD, CSSD, one of the leading nutritionists in the San Francisco Bay Area and creator of the RealJock Healthy Weight-Loss Programs) has some thoughts on how best to eat post-holiday—and a free offer to get you started.

"We always talk about what to do before and on holidays in terms of nutrition and healthy eating," Manuel says. "But few of us know what to do once all the hype is over." So how do you get your eating back on track after a holiday, and what do you do about what you ate on the holiday? Here are Manuel's tips:

Clean Up
Start by cleaning up your environment—including throwing out the leftovers. "I always tell people to enjoy the holiday and relax," Manuel says, "but the next day, you should take all the trigger foods out of the house. If you think anything from that meal will be a problem, don't force yourself to depend on will-power—just get rid of the trigger." Sorry, pumpkin pie; you've got to GO.

Go Shopping
Your first instinct after a holiday meal may be to hit the gym. But actually, Manuel says, the first place you need to go is to the supermarket. "It's fine to hit the gym the day after a holiday," he says, "but you are going to be hungry after that workout, and if you haven't gone shopping, and haven't gotten rid of the leftovers, what happens when you get home?" Oh dear. Turkey dinner. So, go shopping, and get your proteins, fruits, veggies, and snacks for the week. "Have some yogurts and low-fat cheeses that you can pack up as snacks," Manuel says, "and plan to have these with you as you get your workouts and eating back on track." For more advice on what precisely to buy at the store, check Manuel's shopping guide.

Eat Up
"After Thanksgiving a lot of people feel so bad that they restrict and under-eat," Manuel says, "but that can backfire and set you up for failure. You may end up so hungry that you have a second Thanksgiving on Monday. Now you have two thanksgivings, and you didn't even plan it." Instead, you want to get back to ordinary—not some self-depriving mirror image of holiday eating. "Get up and have your regular breakfast and your regular eating day," Manuel says. "One day is not going to fix anything. Go back to regular clean eating, and one day of holiday eating won't impact anything—just as one day of starvation won't impact anything."

Sign Up
But the holidays are upon us, and the opportunities—at times, even near-obligations—to overeat are upon us. So this is a good time to tell you that Manuel's new nutrition and weight-loss support website, EatingFree, is free for our members throughout the holiday season. Sign up for the EatingFree Free-for-All and get nutrition support through the holidays, including a daily email with tips and support, and the all-important holiday party survival strategies.