Sunday, November 24, 2013

How To Have A Happy And Remorseless Thanksgiving

What’s the worst thing that can happen on Thanksgiving?

You get seated next to your uncle with bad breath?

The turkey baster, your dog and your 3-year old all go missing at the same time?

The gravy is lumpy?

Your mom recites passages all throughout the meal from that revolutionary new diet book she's reading about how wheat is destroying our brains?

No doubt, all valid horrors. But if you have been taking steps to improve your eating habits and lose excess weight, your worst fear on Thanksgiving might be that you’ll eat the “wrong” things, ingest way too much, or just feel out of control and not enjoy yourself in such a food-filled feasting environment.

Handling holidays and social situations when working towards better health can be tricky and is something I spend a lot of time on with clients. But with a little forethought, a sense of humor, and the following tips, you can better equip yourself for a non-gluttonous and thoroughly enjoyable Thanksgiving.

14 tips to make your day go as smooth as gravy:

1. Help plan the menu or bring a healthier dish to share
Dietitians love this tip (unless you’re coming to our houses!) because many of us are menu control freaks (just me? Ok, never mind). So while you don’t have to exert the menu vice grip, the goal here is to help create a healthier balance at the meal—one idea is to tip the balance of menu items to include more deliciously healthy vegetable dishes (recipes featuring sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, carrots, squash, beans, and parsnips to name a few are all great for this season) and lean protein items, with fewer calorically-dense and nutrient-poor dishes (ie those that are excessively sugary, overly fatty, or devoid of vegetables).

2. Do a Turkey Trot, Drumstick Dash, Wattle Waddle or any other fun Thanksgiving day-themed event that gets you up and moving that morning
Is there really any better way to start the day than running with a bunch of other hungry Pilgrims? This has been a newer tradition in my family for the past three years and we love it. The events are fun, easy (you can usually walk or run), and everybody’s generally in a good mood (except for that guy who decided to wear shorts despite a race-time temp of 3 degrees). One caution here: don’t use your 3-mile walk as an excuse to eat like you just climbed Mt. Everest for the rest of the day. Find a Thanksgiving Day walk/run event near you!

3. Throw the turkey neck away. 
No good will come of it. Just. Throw. It. Away.

4. Keep your normal eating schedule throughout the day
There’s nothing pious about “saving yourself” for the Big Meal. Arriving at the table overly hungry will likely leave you looking and feeling like a ravenous hyena (but I guarantee YOU won’t be laughing once the gorging is done).

5. Map out your plate prior to the meal
Do a quick inventory of what is being served: figure out which meal items you absolutely can’t miss, and then leave those items that aren’t really your favorites. Doing this will help weed out unnecessary extra calories. I don’t recommend getting too caught up trying to craft the perfect nutrient-proportioned plate for Thanksgiving. It’s one meal. You'll live. 

6. Gluttony is not mandatory on Thanksgiving
You don’t have to fill your plate until things are dripping off the edges. I say, if you can still see what color the plate is once you've dished your food, you’re off to a good start.

7. Imagine how you want to feel after the meal. 
If you actually want to feel like a beached whale, disregard these tips. If you’d rather feel nicely satisfied, just full enough, and even deserving of a little more pie later, make choices conducive to this goal.

8. Handle food pressures from family and friends with style
If your nosy great-aunt makes condescending comments on how “healthy” you seem to be eating this year compared to Thanksgivings past in which you got busted for pocketing dinner rolls, simply get up from the table, bend over, and start twerking. Subject. Changed. You’re welcome.

9. Set a timeframe and drink limit for alcohol consumption
This is one tip that seems to work well for clients who fear “overdoing it” in the midst of merriment and boozey relatives. My uncles swear by one beer every 30 minutes for 5 or 6 steady hours but I’m fairly certain this strategy has no proven health benefits. Instead, figure out the number of drinks and timing that will work best for your specific situation and stick to your plan.

10. Expect and accept that you will likely eat more this day
Realistic expectations are very important so you don’t needlessly beat yourself up for eating a bit more than usual.

11. Don’t let your cat sit at the table
I’ve tried this one for you already. Even your family members think it's kinda weird.

12. Take a nap
There is life after the meal, and it’s waiting for you on the couch. Not only is sleep good for you, but escaping to the nearest sofa in a feigned, yawny stupor post-dinner is a winning strategy to get out of doing dishes.

13. Don’t forget to be thankful
Truly savor the food, the family, traditions, and togetherness. I’m guessing that, like mine, your life’s cornucopia is probably a little more than half-full of tiny pumpkins and gourds so cherish this time and make it count.

14. Keep a sense of humor about it all and an eye on the big picture of your eating. Tomorrow is another day, after all. Unless you ate that wheat roll. Then it’s all over. Sorry.

Check out what Healthy Hausfrau is cooking up this year below. Feel free to share what your family is making in the comments section!

Healthy Hausfrau Thanksgiving Menu

Roasted turkey

Stuffing –my mother’s recipe

Assortment of fresh veggies and olives

Mark Bittman

Cooking Light

Bon Appetit

Food And Wine

Cooking Light

Eating Well

Happy Thanksgiving from The Healthy Hausfrau! ;)

1 comment:

  1. laughin hysterically at your cat at the table. oh...if people only knew what goes on HERE!! thankfully the cats are freaked out by strangers enough that they dont do THAT when we have company :-)