Healthy Family Fun for Thanksgiving

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Thanksgiving is a time to follow family traditions, from baking Grandma's classic pie recipe to watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Unfortunately though, those traditions often revolve a lot around food--and not at all around being active. I know that was the case for me as I grew up, and I've seen the same trend with other families as well. Over the years, I have tossed out some of those old and unhealthy traditions that I grew up with and have started up healthier traditions with my own family. It's completely possible to still be festive while making healthier choices—plus, I don't regret my decisions later!

One of my favorite traditions that I have adopted in recent years is Coach Nicole's idea of ''moving my feet before I eat.'' Whether it is getting out for a walk or playing with my dogs, I make sure to get some physical activity in during the big day. This is not only a great way for me to stay on track with my fitness goals during the holiday, but it's also a wonderful way to spend time with my family--and include them in my healthy lifestyle!

This year, I encourage you to take the spotlight off the fattening feast, and focus on what really matters--bonding with your family. Create your own healthier holiday traditions with these ideas.
Pick out healthier recipes as a family. Finding lighter recipes to replace traditional Thanksgiving fare can help your household skip that post-feast coma. As a bonus, choosing new recipes to try together (or healthier versions of what you normally make) can be a fun way to get your whole family on board with a healthy lifestyle.
Let everyone help with the meal--including the kids. Any time you prepare a meal, it is a great opportunity to teach your children (and other family members) about nutrition and healthy cooking. Thanksgiving should be no exception! If you have young children, you can start out with giving them basic tasks, like grabbing foods from the pantry, mixing ingredients, and pouring batter. Don't forget to have everyone help clean up, too!
Run or walk in a Turkey Trot or 5K race. Many cities have some form of a Turkey Trot or 5K on Thanksgiving Day, which can be a great way to get some exercise in and burn some calories before it's time to feast. Some races may even allow strollers for families with smaller children. If your city doesn't happen to host a race that day, try running or walking in a SparkPeople Virtual Race!
Go for a walk. Walking is a family-friendly exercise that can also double as a great time to reflect on the things you are thankful for. This year, start a tradition of taking a post-turkey ''gratitude walk'' with your loved ones. Check out SparkPeople's Walking Guide for more tips.
Volunteer at your local soup kitchen. Donating your time to help others is a great way to teach your family members to be kind and giving individuals. Soup kitchens are always in need of volunteers during the holidays, so make a point to sign up with your family to do some good, even if it's just for a couple of hours.
Have an active video game tournament (DDR, Wii Fit, Zumba, etc.). This type of tournament can be a lot of fun for all. There are so many kinds of active video games out there for both kids and adults. You can even come up with some fun (non-food) prizes for the winner of the tournament!
Do the Turkey Burner Workout. Want to add some more movement to your Thanksgiving Day without leaving the house? Torch some of those turkey calories with this fun workout, which is comprised of a circuit of five strength and cardio moves.
Take a hike! After you get the turkey in the oven, take the family out for a hike. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do because I love the scenery and different terrain on the various trails. This is another activity that is easy to do with family members, and if you have younger children, you can choose an easier trail. Scope out local trails in advance to find one that will work for everyone.  
Play at your local park. You can do so many things at a park--the options are endless! You can play football, soccer, basketball, Frisbee, or something as simple as a game of tag. Every 10 minutes or so, have your family members take turns choosing a new game to play.
Include your pets in the fun, too. Pets can sometimes be forgotten when there is so much going on, so make sure you get them moving, too! If you decide to do some of the fun outdoor activities listed above, take your dog with you. He will love being included in your family playtime—and he'll be so tired from running around that he won't have the energy to beg for leftovers!

What healthy Thanksgiving traditions do you have with your family? What new traditions will you add this year?

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Cant walk out with deer hunting saw in the Yahoo sight that a man killed a woman thinking she was a deer & he almost got off but he killed her Report
My newest Thanksgiving tradition? Looking at BEFORE and AFTER photos of people who have lost a lot of weight. Works well to keep portion control in mind. Report
This is awesome, great ideas to enjoy holiday meals Report
It can be a fabulous family goal! Report
Great. Thanks. Report
Great ideas! Report
Great article! Report
I am an am exerciser. Report
Great ideas....thanks.... Report
great article Report
I went for a walk before dinner and I will go for a walk after dinner. Report
no bread/butter/jam will be on the table today and Dearly Beloved and I have already had one walk pre-cooking Report
We have learned that we will not drop dead without gravy, stuffing, or biscuits! We can still live! Report
Thank you! Awesome ideas! Happy Thanksgiving to all my American Sparkies! Canadians celebrate it in October, shorter season, longer winters. So the poor turkeys get it twice every year lol! Report
Amazing ideas! Report
Love these ideas! Thank you! Report
thanks Report
good ones! Report
Keep moving forward Report
great article thank you I work on most holidays so over eating is not my big problem these days getting enough exercise is Report
While in Georgia, I did the Thanksgiving Grateful Gobbler in Florida for two years, I saw a Feet to Feast 5K and I will be doing this walk on Thanksgiving morning! I don't have any family here and can't always get back to Georgia. My DH and I came up with new traditions for the holidays... Report
Thanks. Report
Most of my family members have passed away--but when we used to do big Family Turkey dinners for Thanksgiving, we ALWAYS took a walk afterwards--no matter what! Once the dishes were done, the left overs put away, and the cleanup finished--it was time for a vigorous walk! Everyone looked forward to it. If it wasn't snowing--that walk may even turn into a few friendly rounds of neighborhood football matches. Fond and cherished memories! Report
I don't seem to have too much problem controlling portions at the table; at least it's been quite a few years since I got up groaning. My problem is the desserts-even waiting an hour before having pie doesn't keep it from pushing me over the edge. This year I am going to box up my dessert and wait to have it until 3 or 4 hours later. Report
I decided that Thanksgiving needs to be a time that we actually GIVE thanks. Write a thankyou/appreciate you note to at least ONE other person this year and specifically thank them for touching your life in a special way. It can be to someone from years ago, or someone closer to you. It can be an acquaintance or someone who 'just passed through' your life. Of course you'll need their address or someother contact info. I'm afraid we, too often, SAY we're thankful, but don't follow through on letting others know how much.
I like the idea of a family walk.
Some of my family has begun to participate in the Thanksgiving Meals delivered by our church.
I also like the idea of games. They had games at the first Thanksgiving. We oughta bring that back to life. But I DON'T mean football. ugh. Report
The whole business of healthier eating is a hell of a lot easier if you give yourself a day off once in a while.
Like Thanksgiving, for example.
Stop nattering and have some pie! Report
We do a lot of moving in the kitchen with three or four of us all doing something. We spend a lot of time talking. Report
We are gathering at my sister's this year, and she has agreed to a two-mile after dinner walk with me to ward off the sleepies. We have also planned a lot of board games, etc.. to keep us from the mindless snacking. Report
We go out to a buffet to eat so everyone gets what they want and we don't have leftovers. Report
Several years ago, our family started taking a walk together after the big meal. Whether it's around the neighborhood or to a local hiking trail, it always feels better to walk some of that big meal off! Report
We're challenged because we have elderly family members that need to be picked up and taken home - 3 hour round trip so six hours of driving for my husband. We like the idea though so decided we'd plan a lengthy walk Thanksgiving eve and then we'll each jump on the elliptical for 30 minutes in the early morning on Thanksgiving day and wrap up the "day" with a hike on the day after. We figure there's an additional benefit to walking; we aren't coordinated enough to eat pie and walk at the same time so we're saving ourselves from the leftovers (grin). Report
My sister Cindy and I take a nice long walk right after dinner while the guys are still watching football. It allows us to catch up giggle and prepare to clean up after all the dining!!! Report
Move your fee before you eat,great idea and walking after Thanksgiving dinner is also a good idea.I will remember to work out on my EL machine that same day in fact maybe I will work out twice on that special day. Report
My sister, her husband, my husband, our nephew and possibly our Mom plan to do our own 5K before Thanksgiving lunch. If Mom joins in, we'll have to go a little slower because she is having balance problems, but it will still be 3.1 miles and that way we can walk and talk to Mom and that will be a very good thing. Then on Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, my sister and I and our husbands are going to do a twilight 5K in Christmas lights in a small town about 75 miles from home! It sounds fun! I;m also making a Truvia crustless pumpkin pie to take to my brother's house for Thanksgiving! Report
Move your feet before you eat! I love that mantra. In fact, I want to add "Move your feet after you eat" because if I can commit to taking a walk right after the meal, I'm sure I'll eat less, feel better, and do less damage (if any). Report
I'm running in my first "Turkey Trot" 10K! Report
good ideas! I have to find a way to fit in a good morning run (lots of traveling to do that day!) Report
good ideas... i will probably walk after restaurant dinner... my cooking is today.. Report
I've got three of the best pets in the world and they all keep me moving. I also have the most wonderful husband and when I'm feeling lazy him makes me get off my butt and walk my butt downstairs to bring my dirty dishes down and I also get my mother moving too an she walks with me. So on this Thanksgiving I'm thankful for my health and for everybody around the world. Beau203 Report
My husband and I have horses and Thanksgiving is about them, too, because they are a part of our family. We usually ride before dinner. We've made it a tradition. Report
That's kind of tough - Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror for me. Report
Thank you for sharing. We also have modified what is on the table (ex. boiled green beans instead of the casserole) now it is more a matter of portion control.
For the past few years after a traditional thanksgiving meal we bundle up for winter and take a big walk up this big hill that goes up for almost two miles. It is quite the workout. Report
Don't actually have any family traditions, which makes Thanksgiving easy for me. However, I did walk our local Turkey Trot 5k last year and am signed up to walk the 10k this year. Excited to see how well I can keep up my pace. Report
As a kid we always wanted to get out for a walk but there was deer hunting going on all around us. Keep those walks to a local nature park or State Park that is not hosting deer hunting.