We’re coming up on one of the most difficult times of the year; stress is higher, work gets busier, we have family obligations, events to attend, and somewhere in there we’re trying to stay healthy and not gain weight with the constant temptations that surround us. I find myself having the same conversation with all my clients the week before thanksgiving, giving them a run down on the “do’s” and “dont’s” so that they can enjoy the day, eat a nice dinner, and not feel guilty about it or gain weight. Depriving ourselves is never the answer, and neither is overstuffing ourselves. We can have an enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner and eat what we want while finding balance and staying on track with our healthy behaviors.
Here are my do’s and dont’s for having a happy and healthy Thanksgiving:
- Starve yourself all day or “save calories” for the big meal – it’s a much better idea to have a normal breakfast and lunch/snack depending on what time the big meal is. If you wait to eat until dinner, you’ll be ravenous and end up overeating. Stick to more protein and healthy fat based foods during the day and then save the starchier carbs for dinner
- Stress over trying to get it perfect – all the food might not be ready at exactly the same time, the turkey might turn out a little dry, and dinner might be later than planned, just breathe and remember the important thing is that you surround yourself with the people you love and be thankful for what you have
- Deprive yourself – it’s okay to indulge every once in a while, as long as you practice portion control. If you deprive yourself at Thanksgiving dinner, and don’t have a bite of the pumpkin pie or whatever that thing is you really want, you’ll most likely find yourself eating the entire pie the next day or binging on something else to replace that feeling
- Overstuff yourself – practice portion control! The “stuffed” feeling that comes after Thanksgiving dinner is always about the second or third plate, not the first. Fill your plate with small portions of all the goods, and after finishing that first plate, wait about 20-30 minutes and ask yourself this question, “If I eat more food will I be satisfied or will I be stuffed?”. If the answer is stuffed, try to resist the urge for that second plate.
- Snack while you’re cooking- sometimes we don’t realize how all the little bites add up, and it can be really easy while cooking to take a bite here and there, and before you know it you’ve eaten north of 500 calories in “little bites”. You might need to taste what you’re cooking to adjust flavors, but be mindful of just eating the food because its right in front of you.
- Stay hydrated- drinking plenty of water will help you to not overeat. A lot of times when we think we are hungry, we’re actually thirsty. Have a steady flow of water intake throughout the day, especially if you’re drinking alcohol
- Be mindful or portions and snacking – If your gathering has an appetizer spread, be mindful of how much you’re actually eating before dinner. Again those “little bites” add up; we are sitting watching football or enjoying the company of others, chatting and not realizing that we’ve over-served ourselves on the chips and dip. Try placing your snacks on a plate instead of just grabbing and eating, as this will help you actually see how much you’re eating
- Get some form of activity – wake up the morning of and get in some exercise. Go for a walk, lift some weights, and maybe do some stretching. This will start your day off right and will have many metabolic benefits that will work in your favor. (Note: working out on Thanksgiving day does not mean you get to reward yourself with even more food)
- Focus on filling your plate with protein and vegetables, then fill in the rest with the starchier side dishes
- ENJOY THE DAY AND GIVE THANKS! – this is a perfect time to practice gratitude and positive affirmation. Take some time to really be thankful for the things you have and the people in your life that you love. Take 10 minutes of quiet reflection time and make a list of all the things you’re thankful for; actually seeing it written down will give you perspective on how many things you have to be grateful for. Then go and tell the people you love that you love them!!!