Thanksgiving week is here and while it is a joyous time of year, it can also be stress-inducing, for a number of reasons. And while I can't coach you on which route you should take to avoid traffic, or how to navigate the political conversations with family around the dinner table, I can give you some tips on how to make the most of your food experience so you are free to relax and enjoy your holiday with peace of mind.
1. First and foremost, enjoy your food! It doesn’t serve anybody, especially yourself, if you make yourself feel guilty for breaking your nutrition routine on Thanksgiving. Do you have stuffing and pumpkin pie every day? No. But can you enjoy those things on Thanksgiving? Absolutely! The more you can let go and just enjoy the food on your plate, the more you can be present and enjoy the company around the table. Remember, being overly restrictive, on Thanksgiving or any other day, can greatly detract from you building a lifelong healthy relationship with food.
2. Just because you’re off your routine for a day or two, or even three, doesn’t mean you blew it. Habits aren’t made in a day and they certainly aren’t broken in a day either. Relax, it’s a holiday week and things are going to be different. Being off your routine also doesn’t mean you have the excuse to go completely overboard. Being healthy is about finding sustainable balance in all areas of life. So, if you have a heavy dinner, maybe have a lighter breakfast the next day or add a few more minutes to your workout – do what makes you feel good and balanced. This isn’t your first holiday and it won’t be your last, so finding ways to build balance throughout the holiday season will be key so you can enjoy it without guilt and be present to spend quality time with friends and family. One day will not make or break your health journey.
3. Do not, and I repeat, do not starve yourself before Thanksgiving dinner. In anticipation of a bigger dinner, many try to not eat beforehand. I guarantee that by doing this, you will end up eating more at dinner, and feeling worse (physically and mentally). I recommend having a balanced breakfast with protein (eggs, yogurt, etc) and fiber (fruits, veggies, oatmeal, etc) to keep you nourished and satisfied.
4. Snack smart. We’ve all been there – showed up to a party or event not having eaten for several hours, and what usually happens? We load up on the appetizers – cheese, crackers, dips – and by the time dinner comes, we are totally stuffed! About an hour or two before the event/dinner, have a snack - like fruit and nuts, yogurt and berries, or veggies and hummus - to make sure you don’t show up to dinner completely hungry or deprived.
5. Load up on the veggies and protein first. While there are no such things as good or bad foods, when you head to the buffet – try loading your plate with protein (turkey) and veggies first. This way you can ensure that you’re eating plenty of foods that keep you full, and pack in some good nutrients, then you can add things like stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc to enhance your meal.
6. Don’t forget the water! While it’s tempting to sip on wine and only wine throughout the night, don’t forget to alternate alcoholic drinks with water. This will help keep you hydrated and will keep you from overeating due to the appetite stimulating effects of alcohol. You’ll probably feel a lot better the next morning too :)
7. Finally, slow down, relax, enjoy, and trust your body. Again – holidays are a part of life and so is the food that comes with them. Remember that food isn’t just about macronutrients or calories, it’s about cultural traditions, bringing people together, and building memories. So slow down, listen to your body, enjoy your food, enjoy the conversation, and enjoy the people around you! Most importantly, have a safe and happy holiday!
With Love and Thanks,