Thanksgiving has become one of, if not, my favorite holidays of the year – so much to be thankful for and blessed to have family to share it with. Most of all, the food! I’m all about the food! The smells, the abundance, the limitless second and third helpings – I can’t wait. As a fitness professional, I have a very healthy relationship with food and understand that one day does not ruin my metabolism, waistline, or health. For some, that is not the case and the holiday meal becomes more an exercise in what not to eat rather than just enjoying it for what it is – a celebration. Nevertheless, if you still have a hard time coming to terms with just enjoying yourself, here’s a short checklist to perhaps lighten your anxiety a little bit.
- DO NOT SKIP MEALS! Limit your intake of calories leading up to the big feast. Eat breakfast and a protein-packed lunch (if dinner is later). If you starve yourself during the day, you could wind up SO hungry that by the time you sit down at the dinner table you eat WAY too much food.
- Go for lean, white meat turkey to get the most bang for your calorie-buck. Dark meat has about 15% more calories and 30-40% more fat than light meat. If you prefer the dark meat, then at least take off the skin since that is where most of the fat (added calories) is.
- Start with the protein (animal or vegetarian). Start with your protein choice and then work on the vegetables. Leave the starchy carbs until the end. The protein will help slow the brake down of the starchy carbs.
- Pause and take some breaths. After you finish each serving on your plate put your fork down. Chew your food and take a couple of slow deep breaths. Enjoy what you’ve previously eaten before starting on the next serving. The deep breaths don’t have to be obvious. Taking pause and some deep breaths will also help aid digestion.
- Choose calorie free beverages. If you are going to be having alcoholic beverages then everything else you drink should be calorie free. Skip the soda and juices. Drink lots of water to avoid the dehydration that comes along with drinking too much.
- Ask if you can make a side dish – make it a tasty guilt free dish so you will have at least one thing to splurge on. Veggie dishes don’t have to be boring.
- Burn calories! The more calories you burn with activity, the more food you can consume without feeling terrible about it. Do not skip the exercise leading up to the feast or on the day of. Make time to get exercise and raise your heart rate. Your metabolism will thank you for it.
- Wear form fitting clothing and you will be less likely to overeat. No sweat pants or stretchy pants. No one wants to see you with your pants unbuttoned after the meal.
- Use a salad plate instead of a regular dinner plate. If your plate is smaller you will not have as much room on it and won’t overload it with too much of the stuff you shouldn’t have a lot of.
- Keep your goal in mind! What are you trying to accomplish? Are you really doing yourself a favor by not enjoying a festive meal when your dietary habits aren’t all that great to begin with? Are you competing in a few weeks in a physique contest? Have you diluted your nutrition knowledge so much that you don’t even know what it means to eat anymore? The point here is this: health has as much to do with mental well-being as well as the physical and the nutritional. Don’t allow yourself to be drowned by negative thoughts or fears. Enjoy the day, enjoy the meal, and bask in everything you have to be thankful for. Just don’t allow one day to become two, six, or 30!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!
Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.