Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and while it may look a little different this year, it probably still induces the same stress and anxiety in, especially surrounding food.
We get it. There’s a lot happening on Thanksgiving — you have to time each dish correctly, evenly distribute precious oven real estate, keep the kids and grandma entertained until the food is ready … all while trying to avoid that post-Thanksgiving-meal-stuffed-to-the-brim-food-coma.
It can seem daunting, but with a few simple strategies and a slight shift in mindset, you can enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving foods without completely derailing your healthy eating habits, and maybe even steer grandpa away from talking politics at the dinner table.
First and foremost, fasting or restricting all day in an effort to “save up” calories for the big festive meal almost always backfires. If you do this, you will be famished by the time Thanksgiving dinner rolls around, which will likely make you eat way too much, way too fast.
Instead, treat Thanksgiving like any other day — have balanced meals and snacks on a regular, consistent basis throughout the day until it’s time to gobble up that bird. That way, you’ll be able to eat enough until you’re comfortably satisfied, and you’ll eat at a pace that allows you to truly savor every bite.
Second, be mindful about what you put on your plate. Tune into your body and ask yourself: “Do I really want this, or am I just eating this because it’s there?”
For instance, if you absolutely love your mom’s green bean casserole or good old-fashioned apple pie with vanilla ice cream, then by all means have some and enjoy it. But if it’s something that you’ve maybe eaten in the past because it’s part of the Thanksgiving spread, but it’s not really your favorite, it’s perfectly fine to skip a one dish in favor of others that you genuinely like.
Another thing to avoid is that “last supper” mindset. It’s easy to tell yourself that you can eat anything and everything you want on Thanksgiving Day as long as you resume your diet the next day. But that can be a recipe for disaster.
If you tell yourself that a certain food is “off limits” as soon as Thanksgiving is over, it will only make that food more tantalizing, and you’ll be much more likely to overdo it. Instead, remind yourself that there will be plenty of leftovers, and that you can enjoy that food the next day too (if you truly want it).
You can also make Thanksgiving dishes at another time of year. There’s no rule that says you can’t. The less “forbidden” a food is to you on Thanksgiving Day, the less tempting it will be to overeat it.
Lastly, give yourself some grace. Thanksgiving is about gratitude and family, but it’s also a day about eating delicious food — and that’s okay every once in a while. One extravagant meal isn’t going to make or break you; it’s your habitual eating patterns that really determine your overall health.
At Kelly’s Choice, we believe that including yummy treats on holidays like Thanksgiving as part of an otherwise balanced, nutritious diet is much better for your health in the long term. We also know that wellness is about much more than just what’s on your plate, so stressing about what you eat on Thanksgiving certainly isn’t going to help.
This year, take a deep breath, properly fuel yourself throughout the day, and bring awareness to your taste preferences to choose the foods that you truly enjoy. And be sure to wash your hands.
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