Thanksgiving – Enjoy it don’t dread it! Here’s how:
We all look forward to Thanksgiving dinner, but for many, it’s also the stressor in the back of your mind- you’re afraid you’ll overeat, not just at that one dinner, but all the way through New Year’s Eve.
And telling ourselves “THIS YEAR I’M JUST GOING TO TREAT IT LIKE A REGULAR MEAL!” most often doesn’t work.
Eating is social so it’s a good excuse to get away with it. Everyone is overeating so you don’t stand out. But if it goes too far, we risk being out of control through the holidays and beyond.
1. Eating to Mirror Others
2. Peer Pressure
3. Food is everywhere!
4. Emotional Eating comes with Emotional Times (such as the holidays)
5. Overweight is Contagious
I’m not going to say don’t stress. Fear what you fear, feel what you feel and take control of the little things. They will add up to one big control of Thanksgiving dinner, your eating, and your life.
So, here are my tips for Thanksgiving and Holiday time (though the focus is on Thanksgiving)
• Exercise first thing in the morning before the meal or right after putting the turkey in the oven. Do not eat breakfast if you do cardio or have just a small natural carbohydrate like fruit if you’re going to do weights. GET IT DONE before you get engaged in your Thanksgiving Day plans! (also, get enough sleep the night before Thanksgiving, or a Holiday Party)
• Drink water or sparkling water in the hours before dinner. Alcohol makes your blood sugar drop making you reach for the carbs, and not to care about how many carbs. But if you have a glass of vino or beer while waiting for the meal, drink water in between or at the same time. (a good glass of cranberry and soda no ice is great with Wine or Champagne)
• Do not waste your calories on the crackers, nuts and other snacks in bowls around the house, and only taste one or two out of the ordinary hors-d'oeuvres.
• Again, enjoy only one glass of wine or beer before dinner, then one or two during to ENHANCE the taste of your food, not to be buzzed! Tell jokes and laugh at others’ jokes to be high! Remember that alcohol is a depressant, and you can’t control your emotions well if you’re drunk.
• A few more things about drinking - alcohol calories that aren’t burned will be stored as fat! Yes all unneeded calories are stored as fat but calories from alcohol are first stored in your liver which doesn’t metabolize the alcohol-induced fat quickly, so, the fat stays stuck in your liver and around your abdomen ends up being what you know as a
beer Belly” Tips within a tip:
• Forget the eggnog, margaritas, mudslides and other sugary mixed drinks — or enjoy ONE as your dessert after dinner.
• Pick these lower calorie alcohol alternatives:
Champagne: 5 ounces | Calories: 100; Carbohydrate: 1g
Vodka, whiskey, rum or gin: 1.5 ounces | Calories: 96; Carbohydrate: 0g
Red or white wine: 5 ounces | Calories; 125, Carbohydrate: 4g
Light beer: 12 ounces | Calories: 100; Carbohydrate: 5g
• Alternate between having alcohol and water You’ll stay well hydrated.
• Sip slowly - Take the time to enjoy your alcoholic beverage.
• Keep your alcohol budget at or below 200 calories
Scan the table, buffet or menu before grabbing for anything or ordering. Pick the foods you really love and rarely eat, then choose small portions of them. If you are going to a restaurant ask if you can choose a la carte, or to leave certain things off your particular dish and to serve you only half a portion and pre-box the rest. IT’S YOUR MEAL, YOUR MONEY, YOUR BODY – YOU HAVE A RIGHT. Kiss the wanker who ridicules you at the table on the cheek and get on with your feast.
Stop and put your fork down between each bite, feel the food in your mouth, and appreciate all its textures, tastes, and smells. Engage in conversation, even if you don’t particularly like that crazy cousin, judgmental in-law or nosy aunt sitting right, next. To (*sigh) you! Or at a holiday party if you don’t care for every single gossipy co-worker or chit-chatty boss, find what to like about them and keep them talking, but also engage… run your mouth as well so that you’re not constantly shoving food in your mouth. And again watch the alcohol as you might say something you shouldn’t!
The holidays are a great time to get to know various family members you really don’t know. And to tell your mom, your dad, your brothers and sisters, the positive things you think about them. Take it from someone who lost both of her parents in the same year, I did not expect the last Thanksgiving or Christmas with them, to be, the last.
That said, don’t avoid something because it’s really bad! Damn! Eat that pecan pie, just don’t eat more than half a slice, take a bite of something else you want to nibble on and save a few calories for the cream in your coffee or that Khalua or after dinner liquor.
The BIGGEST CHALLENGE I USED TO HAVE: PUSHY RELATIVES AND IMPOLITE HOSTS – PEER PRESSURE.
I remember once, a boyfriend’s sister insisted I have a piece of her homemade pumpkin pie (though I doubt she made the crust). My boyfriend and I had plans to have dessert with a couple at their house later. I was already pretty full from dinner and wanted to save room for dessert at our friends’. She pushed, nudged, said it was okay to have seconds on Thanksgiving, blah blah blah... I was nice, thanked her, told her I would love to take a piece home to enjoy at my leisure the next day. She started whispering out loud, that I was rude. She kept repeating, like a chant… rude, rude, rude. I felt awful. I felt picked on, ridiculed, and put on the spot. My boyfriend also looked annoyed and embarrassed, not by his sister, but by me! He did not stand up for me. I ate a bit of her pie and hated it. I did not eat dessert at our friends’ place and felt I had been attacked.
A week later I read an article in Miss manners, that said how a host prepares food as a gift, and to host is to make guests feel comfortable, and welcomed. Hosts or anyone bringing food does so to be generous, not to be validated and appreciated.
I should have sent my boyfriend’s sister this article. But I did not. Since then, I speak up and explain in the nicest way if I’m full or getting there, that I would LOVE to have a huge tank of a stomach, but I do not, so I’d LOVE to take home a Tupperware of their wonderful dish and not miss out. I then thank them later in the week telling them how much I enjoyed it.
DO NOT FALL into ADULT PEER PRESSURE! Again, it’s your body, your mind, and your health.
So, to fall into the platitudes… celebrate Thanksgiving by focusing on giving thanks to the universe, God, life, luck –whatever your philosophy or belief, and enjoy the gathering, more than or as much as the food.
And one last thing…. I think the leftovers are way better than the actual meal!