Thanksgiving is a wonderful day. It is a time to relax, spend time with family, friends and eat some good wholesome food. Like I have said in the past, if every day was more like Thanksgiving, we would all be better off. The food you eat on Thanksgiving is not going to make or break your weight loss goals. It is what you do the the other 364 days of the year, that is the real problem.
I always let myself enjoy whatever I want on Thanksgiving. Do I pig out? Generally not. Do I eat more than a normal day? Probably. Either way, this particular day always brings up a lot of feelings and conversations about food and overconsumption.
To me, Thanksgiving is like the Super Bowl of all food holidays and we are all on the team playing in this food Super Bowl. If you were playing in the actual Super Bowl, you would not go into the big game cold turkey (so to speak)! Of course not, you would practice and then on game day you would get warmed up and be at your peak before the big game, right?
Well, before we get into the game day tips, we first need to define what your goals are. Obviously for football, it is to make more points than the other team. But what does it mean to win at the Thanksgiving dinner table? Well, I guess it is different for everyone. If your goal is to pig out, over-consume, feel stuffed and bloated afterwards, well then, the odds are probably in your favor. But if your goal is more along the lines of enjoying time with family & friends, good whole food made from scratch, and not feeling sick, guilty or bloated at the end of the day, well then, you may be the underdog in this game.
If you’re the underdog, you will need a strategy. Here are some tips that may help you win this year:
Pre-game preparation – Don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast is and always will be the most important meal of the day. Skipping meals will actually slow your metabolism and will generally cause you to eat more once you do eat. Going into the big meal hungry and having your body in ‘fat storage mode’ is not the winning combination. A good, healthy, protein-rich breakfast, followed by some regular healthy snacks up until the big meal and you should be in great shape!
Hydrate – Yes, drink plenty of water, all day long. We are suppose to consume about 8 glasses per day. I would say a lot of us don’t. But drinking water on this day will help. You will feel fuller and it will help you stay in control. If you are having adult beverages, a good rule of thumb is to have a full glass of water before you fill up your wine glass or crack open that next beer.
Enjoy the experience – You’re in the Super Bowl! Don’t deprive yourself of anything. There will be a lot of good food. You should try a little of everything you really want to try. But don’t load your plate with huge portions of everything you want. Just a dab will do ya! Typically, our plates are a lot more full than a normal meal, so pace yourself. Just take a small portion of everything you want to try. I promise it will turn out to be enough to fill you up and you won’t end up on the couch an hour later with your belt unbuckled (believe me no one wants to see that).
Stay away from the food bullies and buddy up with the good guys – The bullies are the ones that will take you down. Gravy, not a big fan, but if you must have some, go easy on it. Just a little drizzle is plenty and will give you all the flavor you need. White mashed potatoes and bread, the simple carbs will get you every time. Plus, bread and potatoes? Come on, you can have that any time. It’s Thanksgiving, enjoy the good stuff! Speaking of the good stuff enjoy the, turkey, veggies, salads, fruit – these are all healthy good stuff!
Pace yourself – It’s not a race. Chew your food. It will help slow you down, it will help your body digest better and will give you more time to spend with your loved ones visiting. Yet another reason not to go into the big meal hungry. If you are too hungry, you will be too busy wolfing your food down to enjoy the experience!
Second half – This is where most people go wrong – seconds. One full plate is all your body needs at one time. I promise the food is not going to get up and run away. It will still be there for you later. Besides leftovers later on in the day are the best! But if you feel you must have seconds, all I ask is this – have a glass of water and wait 20 minutes before you go back for more. If you are still hungry, knock yourself out!
Overtime – Dessert is a tough one. There are few desserts I would consider “healthy” options during this great day. So my only advice is to pick the one you really want and enjoy a piece – not a ginormous piece. A small piece is all your body really needs to be satisfied.
Well, these tips are not going to help you lose any weight on Thanksgiving, but they should help you not feel sick and bloated at the end of the day. You should also feel very satisfied that you got to enjoy all that Thanksgiving has to offer. If you can say this at the end of the day, then I think you may have just won the game!
Remember, it’s not this one day that is the problem, it is what you eat the rest of the 364 days of the year. How was your 2011? If it was not perfect, don’t beat yourself up. Just choose to make 2012 your best year ever! If you do, I promise you, next year at this time you will be a different person. If you need help, give me a call. I would be glad to help you out!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!