Black Friday: a purchaser’s paradise and retailer’s reverie. The biggest shopping event of the year. Enticing sales begin on Thanksgiving at some stores creating a 4-day frenzy that can leave even the seasoned shopper faint of heart. In other words, what once was a sprint is now more like a marathon. What is vital to a marathoner’s performance? Nutrition of course! Channel your inner track champion with these nutrition tips from Food City’s very own registered dietitian to survive and thrive in the Black Friday dash:
1. Fuel Right. As most athletes will tell you, the hardest part of training is proper nutrition. This is also tricky for Black Friday shoppers who may be in a slight food coma from their Thanksgiving feasts. However, building endurance and stamina is easier than you may think. It is all about balance. A balanced eating pattern includes all the food groups: whole grains, lean protein, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy and a small amount of healthy fats. Each food group has a specific role in the body. When we eat them all, we get the maximum benefit from a variety of nutrients – that means improved and sustained energy.
How can you achieve balance on such a food-focused holiday? Try to include each food group in your meals and snacks: whole-wheat rolls, roasted turkey, fresh cranberry sauce, savory green beans, and classic sweet potato casserole topped with pecans. Remember portion sizes and listen to your body to know when to stop eating. It takes about twenty minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is full. Eat slowly, enjoy the atmosphere, and remind yourself of the pay-off for your training – lasting energy to snag those doorbusters.
2. Fuel Often. Your metabolism is like a fire. It needs consistent fuel in order to flourish. A healthy metabolism should nudge you to eat every 3 to 4 hours. Never skip meals and eat frequently to maintain muscle mass and prevent excess hunger between meals. Also, don’t forget snacks which can act as a bridge to the next eating opportunity. Include at least two food groups at each snack such as protein and high fiber carbohydrates.
As you probably guessed, balanced and frequent meals take planning. It’s Thanksgiving, so why not re-purpose leftovers for your Black Friday menu? For breakfast, try a cranberry smoothie with frozen yogurt and orange juice. For lunch or dinner, make a turkey wrap with cranberry sauce, toasted pecans and shredded greens on a whole-wheat tortilla or throw some greens in a mason jar with turkey or ham, celery, apples, and a light dressing. Remember not to skimp on snacks! Pack an apple with a handful of nuts, carrots and string cheese, or Greek yogurt and fresh berries.
Again, remember portion sizes. Eating enough, but not too much, helps to control cravings and reduces the risk of overeating. A good rule of thumb is if your meal sustains you for 5 to 6 hours without hunger pangs, you probably ate too much. Lighter meals and snacks also prevent you from getting too full and feeling sluggish.
3. Hydrate. Dehydration is the single largest contributor to fatigue during a race. While a short snooze on Thanksgiving is a common practice, we all know there is no time for napping on Black Friday. Stay hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after your shopping exhibition. Skip the soda, sugary coffee, and energy drinks. These beverages actually dehydrate the body and contribute to lower energy levels. The caffeine may keep you lively for an hour or so, but the high sugar content will likely cause a crash later in the day. Stick with water or unsweetened tea. Excess sugar is not your friend when you have sales to find.
While these tips would help to boost energy any day, this Black Friday, stay focused by staying fueled. You will be rewarded with extra energy to keep you feeling great and checking items off your list. Happy shopping!
Elizabeth Hall, RDN, LDN
Registered Dietitian for Food City