This is a time where we reflect on all that is good in our lives and everything that we have grown and learned from. During our younger years, it was a time of incredible indulgence. Thanksgiving can be an especially challenging time for "emotional eaters." Emotional eating happens when we eat for reasons other than hunger. Sometimes being around family triggers emotional hunger, we understand. We've been there. Even during more emotionally charged times there are healthier food choices and strategic ways of navigating the comfort foods that have come to define the holiday. We've come with these tips to help you thrive not just through this Thanksgiving holiday but through the rest of the year (since we know the endless enslaught of goodies around the office and home doesn't stop from Halloween on). In fact, you may think of these as "Formerly Indulgent Thanksgiving (FIT) Tips" since we are coming from a place of experience:
- If you have the place and the space, chose to host Thanksgiving at your place. This gives you "control" of the menu and it keeps you busy most of the day (you won't be the one prowling around the kitchen looking for scraps.). Cleaning the house before guests arrive, lifting a heavy bird from refrigerator to roasting pan or grill, rolling out pie dough, washing and slicing veggies - these all burn serious calories! So if you can't host, volunteer to help with the cooking and cleaning and put yourself to good use.
- Experts estimate that we consume somewhere between 3500 and 5000 calories on Thanksgiving day, which is a lot more than normal. Here's a combined technique that may help cut down on calories. Use a smaller plate and limit yourself to one serving. When we use smaller plates, we naturally have smaller servings. When we limit ourselves to one serving, we "save room" for that little piece of pie that we can't seem to live without. If you are anything like most of our Thanksgiving guests (ourselves included) and have a tough time choosing which pie to have for dessert, you can either have 1/3 the normal slice - or- opt for pumpkin. Pumpkin has the most nutritional bang for the least amount of calories.
- Don't skimp on the cinnamon. Use it is your sweet potatoes, your pie, your dressings - cinnamon is a tasty spice with some awesome health qualities including lowering LDL cholesterol, risk for type 2 diabetes (blood sugar stabilization), boosting brain function, and possibly an effective remedy for headaches and arthritis.
- Don't skip breakfast. Eat a healthy breakfast with at least 5 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein. When you start the day off strong you decrease the likelihood of binge eating later in the day and ultimately consume fewer calories.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day and especially before your Thanksgiving Feast. Don't mistake hunger for thirst. This is actually pretty common and can lead to binge eating. Before mowing down the entire wedge of Brie, drink a few glasses of water, take a few deep breaths and see if you still crave all that saturated fat.
- Make the best choices with what you have before you. Avoid the fat-laden, creamy stuff. If you are hosting, offer baked sweet potatoes. They are delicious, filling and awesome sprinkled with cinnamon. They don't need any extra sugar or candied pecans to make them taste great. Skip the mashed potatoes all together. Fill your plate with the green stuff first - Brussels sprouts, Kale, Collards, Salad - yes to all of the above.
- Get out for a walk in the fresh air. One of our family annual traditions is to take a hike prior to the Thanksgiving Feast. We make it optional for guests to arrive a few hours early to join us for the hour to 90 minute long hike, no matter the weather. It's always great to take in the open air and feel like we're not just sitting around waiting to stuff our faces.
- Limit the alcohol consumption. Alcohol has an uncanny ability to make things real interesting during the holidays. It's never fun when people around the table are, frankly, wasted. Who really likes a drunk at the table? Just being honest here. We say skip it altogether or know your guests really well. If they aren't a real drinking crowd, then just keep it simple and perhaps serve wine with the meal. Better yet, serve sparkling organic cider or sparkling grape juice and again, limit it to one glass (remember, it still adds to the extra calorie and sugar count).
- A fun tip is to eat with your non-dominant hand. Perhaps you make this suggestion to the whole table. We can almost guarantee everyone will eat a lot slower and take in a lot fewer calories.