I used to dread Thanksgiving. I wasn’t a fan of turkey for some strange reason, and I dealt with some tremendous food noise in my head. However, over the years I have become a big fan of this holiday and have learned that it can be a really fun time to gather around the table and actually enjoy yourself sans guilt.
When we spend a holiday or other family gathering worrying about what we eat and how it affects our bodies, we don’t get to enjoy some of the greatest times with the people we love. The holidays shouldn’t be a time where we add stress to our lives. It should be a time of enjoyment.
So how do we go about that? Below are a few tips from me as a certified Health Coach, personal trainer, and someone who has had to learn these lessons herself.
Start your day out right. When you know that you are going to be gathering at the table and enjoying a little extra or eating things you typically wouldn’t indulge in, it helps to get some activity in earlier that day.
Our family has made it a tradition the past few years to pick a local turkey trot to do together. It is not only a great way to get in some exercise and start out the day on the right foot, but it is also a great way to start the day with family and friends. When we encourage each other to be active, it is so much more fun and a positive experience.
If you don’t like running, that is totally fine. Go for a walk, hit the gym before it closes, or get the family outside for a tackle football game. Being active boosts your energy, gets your metabolism going, and also elevates your mood.
Scan the table. One great thing about Thanksgiving is that there are a lot of healthier options on the buffet. Veggies are abundant and turkey is a great lean meat. Just go for the white stuff!
Pick out the healthy options first and make those your biggest portions. Then go ahead and indulge in those other yummy sides that you love but watch your portion sizes.
Stick to one plate. Make yourself one plate and commit to it. If you are still hungry after one large helping, take a moment to determine if it is true hunger. If you feel that you truly are hungry, go for some extra veggies, or load up a salad.
The same goes for dessert. Pick one piece of dessert or take 2 mini slices of pie if you can’t decide. Odds are that it will still be there tomorrow, so don’t act like this is the last time you will ever get to eat dessert!
Bring something healthy that you love. If you aren’t certain what will be on the table and you want to make sure you stick to a good plan, bring something that you know you will enjoy that is also healthy. Perhaps you know that the appetizers will be your downfall. Then bring a delicious veggie platter and some hummus. Add some garlic to give it a kick and then enjoy!
Remember that one day doesn’t break everything. Sometimes you just need to enjoy yourself. One day of unhealthy eating is not a complete loss. You can always get back on track tomorrow. At the same time, that doesn’t mean to just give up and eat everything you see. Check in and make sure you are still hungry. Try to be sensible with your portions. But remember that tomorrow is another day and you can start it with a healthy breakfast and a solid workout.
Be kind to yourself. Food should never be a source of guilt. No one sticks 100% to their eating plan (okay, maybe Tom Brady, but how fun is that?!). We all slip up and we all have foods that we love to eat just a little bit too much of. Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace to have a less than perfect day. Try your best to avoid the negative self talk. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not to make you feel miserable.
I can almost guarantee that we will all eat just a little bit too much, and a few things that we know we don’t really need. Find a way to enjoy it and make a plan for how to start the next day in a healthy way, both mentally and physically.
What are you looking forward to most about Thanksgiving?