The biggest food day of the year is upon us. For some, Thanksgiving is the doorway to eating straight to the new year. That covers about 5 weeks of eating a lot of food, high fat, high sodium and yes over the top carbohydrates. Not to mention alcohol consumption that can be off the charts, bringing on the pounds quickly. Years ago, I remember as the holiday approached all I thought about was eating and more eating. For me Thanksgiving was the height of the holiday and food was my first priority.
Now with all of that said, this doesn’t mean your pre-thanksgiving hard work and good nutrition habits must go completely off track. The traditional elements of a Thanksgiving dinner, when paired together, can be a balanced, you do not have to eat and gorge on this one day, you can have any of these foods any day of the week. Eating turkey, veggies and sweet potatoes are part of the tradition. It is when we add multiple desserts, lots of appetizers and those high carbohydrate foods that quickly can get anyone out of control. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you head out to, or host your own, feast.
1. Not going to dinner starving!
The best thing to do is to have a first meal on Thanksgiving morning so that you are not “saving room”, as that will backfire. You will surely think that you deserve to eat without thinking, this will be a disaster. Plus, your stomach cannot take eating one enormous meal and your emotions will follow suite; the aftereffects are damaging to anyone. Think about how hungry you’ll be once you walk in the door, if appetizers are served, you’ll be tempted to eat everything in sight! Also, by not eating all day your blood sugar will begin to take a nosedive and make you cranky. Start the day with a balanced breakfast. This will ensure you will and can make better decisions on how your meal will go, YOU do not have to overeat or better yet, binge. Come the next day, you will not be on emotional roller coaster ride.
2. EXERCISE for sure!
One sure way to have a great day is get moving. This is an important mental part of the day, if you get a workout in, this might remind you of how hard you are working to change your habits and that includes healthy eating. YOU do not need to binge, it is just one day, eat sensibly. Just get up and get moving, if you start to talk yourself out of moving, you might just sit on the couch. This is the quickest way to say to yourself, “I WILL START ON MONDAY!” NO, NO, NO, get up and just do it! It will be so advantageous for your day.
3. Homemade looks good!
There are so many hidden ingredients in store-bought boxed and packaged foods. As you check out what is on the table try to avoid if possible, any processed goods. These foods are mostly loaded with unhealthy and hazardous trans fats, sugars and refined flours. Try to choose and stick with the homemade items. Homemade foods are at least made with real ingredients. If you are required to bring a dish, make it fresh so at least you know that you will eat something fresh. Bonus, the fats in the olives and nuts are healthy and sure to keep your blood sugar stable. Balanced blood sugar means clear thinking, vibrant moods and good energy. Eating a lot if junky foods like a Chex Mix will give you an aftermath of a blood sugar spike and crash, leaving you feeling anxious, head achy and cranky. Bringing your own beverage to share also helps you avoid high-sugar drinks.
4. Balance, balance, balance your eating
Thanksgiving, as well as every day of the year we need balance in our lives for good health, and that includes what we eat. Consuming protein with good fats such as butter, avocado, nuts and olives for example and healthy carbohydrates such as non-starchy vegetables at every meal is the way at go, if possible. This trifecta is the perfect way to help balance your blood sugar. Eating this way will keep your emotions and mood stabilized, you will also be consuming the nutrients you need to function. If you can balance out your plate chances you will not need to unzipper your pants or worse, crawl to the couch and take a nap.
Now with all of this, I am not saying that you should be a saint on thanksgiving. There is nothing wrong with a bite of dessert or small extra helping of stuffing but if you cannot pace yourself out, you will be in trouble. I remember the years I spent binging on thanksgiving and using this as 5 weeks of eating till Christmas only to go on another diet January 1s,, this cycle went on for years. Over the years I learned that everyday needs to be the best eating day I can give my body and mind.
Here is my last piece of advice don’t get mad at yourself if you do overeat or binge, this happens. Do not think you are a bad person, hate or loathe yourself, you are human. Take a deep breath, relax, and start over right away, put it all behind you and don’t give up on all healthy eating until January 2020. The morning after Thanksgiving, get right back to your healthy habits with a balanced breakfast. You can do this! It is one day, pace yourself out! Remember, this is the not the last supper, YOU will have many more meals coming your way!