Next week is Thanksgiving! Can you believe it? Let’s talk about how to get a game plan together that will have you feeling proud of yourself. It’s a day of traditions, of giving thanks, and of…well, pigging out. We all know that it’s practically an American tradition to starve yourself until the Thanksgiving meal, overeat, and then spend the rest of the day in a food coma, only to emerge on Friday feeling hung over and noshing on leftovers well into the weekend. But seriously, why would you do that to yourself this year? Break the ‘gorge’ tradition. I’m here to help you be smart this Thanksgiving with strategies that are designed to keep you light on your feet, your belt buckled, and turning down the roll of antacids. No weight gain when you step on the scale on Monday after the four-day holiday weekend? That’s what we want to be thankful for.
- Please, oh, please…don’t starve yourself all day. If you starve yourself beforehand, chances are very good that you’ll gobble down your food, overeat and feel terrible afterward. Eat a normal breakfast and have a protein snack before you attend the event. Bonus: when you get there: avoid the “bad for you” appetizers (sip water or your favorite beverage) and save yourself for the main event.
- Slow Down. It takes 20 minutes for your brain’s satiety (“I’m full”) mechanism to kick in, so while you’re eating, be sure to give your BRAIN time to realize that your STOMACH is full. Eat slowly, put your fork down between bites, and enjoy the food and company!
- Move your body before and after the meal. Even though this is Thanksgiving, there is no need to spend the whole day nibbling, then gorging, and then immersed in a food coma. Start the day with a nice workout…go outside for a walk or find a turkey trot and lace up those running shoes. During the meal: eat to 80% fullness (this is key! STOP before you hit the point of “oh god” and belly patting). After the meal, get up and move again. If you didn’t overeat and got some form of exercise that day, you can go for leftovers later – guilt free!
- Bring healthy options. Offer to bring a green salad. Try making pureed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. Make a hearty vegetable soup or a crustless pecan pie. Be creative and make a healthy version of your favorite dish!
- Fill Up with Fiber. Fill half your plate with a green salad, steamed vegetables and add a bean dish if there is one– then add your protein. This leaves very little room for mashed potatoes, stuffing, or creamy vegetable dishes. Voila! Calories banished!
- Skip the Sauces. Generally speaking, traditional Thanksgiving dishes aren’t that unhealthy, but just remember to skip the extras. What this means: skip the gravy, cream sauces, butter, crust on the pies…. you’ll eliminate loads of extra fat.
- Portion Sizes Count. Use your hand to help determine your portion sizes. Don’t know how to do this? You measure food (eyeball) based on your palm and fingers. Need help? Let me know – I can show you!
- Egg Nog. Okay, I’ll say it: there’s just no need for eggnog. It’s loaded with calories, saturated fat and sugar. Consider carefully: is that going to be your indulgent pick? Tradition aside, we’re being very picky. Egg nog shouldn’t be in the top three. Not worth it. Or if it is, check the label and see what you’re indulging in. Enough said.
- Don’t give in to food pushers. This one makes me crazy. Example: you feel bad saying ‘no’ to your Aunt Cathy who makes homemade desserts every year. I get that you feel guilty saying no, but here’s what you can say: “Oh your homemade pecan pie looks amazing! I’m so full from all the other yummy food. Do you mind if I take a piece home?”
- Small Plates / Tall Glasses. Try to eat off the small plates and drink from tall, thin glasses. Most people will eat less food on a small plate and pour less liquid into a tall, thin glass. Hey, we’re going for every trick and tip in the book. Don’t knock any of these tips. You just might emerge the next day with a non-bulging belly…and feeling like you could take on the world!
- Accountability Sheets. Seriously, use this tool, even for Thanksgiving, because you’ll feel better after the meal — and you won’t have a food and/or cocktail hangover the next day! Wouldn’t that be amazing? Start a new tradition with your mind and body. Afraid you won’t stick with the Accountability Sheet plan? Share your plan with another like-minded guest who is attending Thanksgiving.
For those of you who want to stay on track and know that having some accountability measures in place will help, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll send you my Holiday Survival guide and Accountability trackers. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or kendraepstein.com.
To Your Amazing Health,
* This information should not be seen as medical advice and is not meant to take the place of seeing a licensed health professional. You should discuss any dietary supplement use and should not discontinue any prescription medication without first consulting your doctor.