What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving?
Food, family, friends, maybe it’s football! Whatever your traditions are, keep in mind they can all fit into your healthy lifestyle. Moderation is key and knowing that one day will not equal failure relieves stress and allows you to enjoy the day.
Plan your day
The Thanksgiving dinner is a meal that most expect to eat way too much at. It doesn’t have to be! Think of the Thanksgiving dinner as your usual lunch or dinner. This means that you should go about your day just as you would otherwise. Have a healthy breakfast. If you are eating in the middle of the day, have a lite snack before you head to your destination. Be sure to have some protein and healthy fat in your snack so you don’t feel as tempted once you arrive to all the holiday smells. Keep reading for “fill your plate” suggestions.
We all know the main course is coming. Try not to be distracted by plates of food around every corner so guests can just graze. If you do want a snack, look for snacks you would eat on a regular day- veggies, nuts, even fruit. Fresh foods are going to keep you feeling great and you won’t be sluggish by the time dinner is ready.
Whether you are planning on spending the day in the kitchen or you are traveling to visit your loves, Thanksgiving is a whole day! Not every minute of the day has to be built around food. There is plenty of time to visit while not eating!
Start a new tradition!
Since before our kids were able to walk, we have enjoyed a family 5K every year on Thanksgiving. Some years this was a walk, some years a run, some years were spent carrying babies and pushing strollers! Now that our kids are all old enough to run themselves (and outrun mom!) they look forward to what kind of 5K we’ll have. We start Thanksgiving morning no later than 9 AM. This helps set us up for a great start to the day. Fresh air is glorious! When we’re done, we usually celebrate with some apple crisp- and coffee, of course.
Perhaps you aren’t ready for a 5K or maybe you don’t have anyone willing to join you. In that case, make these suggestions, and get your sneakers ready. You can do any of these first thing in the morning and/or before or after dinner.
– go for a walk
– take the kids to the park
– family football or soccer game
– play tennis or pickle ball
– jump rope or hula hoop contest (get ready for some laughs!)
What to cook
As a guest, it is always fun to bring something to add to the celebration. Usually the dessert table is full and the turkey is taken care of. We love to bring a fresh plate with fruit, veggies, nuts and maybe our favorite guac or homemade dressing. This way, it can be set out right away and anyone pre-gaming has a healthy option that will save some room for that turkey dinner without all the heavy meats, cheeses, and dips.
As a host, let others help. Make suggestions of what you would prefer someone make for you. Although, my mother’s stuffing was the best thing around at Thanksgiving, I don’t eat it and my immediate family doesn’t eat it, so I would ask our guest to bring a small serving of their favorite stuffing or their mashed potatoes if that is their favorite part of dinner.
Normalize telling your guests that certain foods are not suitable for you. However they can add whatever they like. Don’t feel like you have to eat all the things others bring. Remember- eat what makes you feel great! You do what is right for you.
Tip- have to-go containers ready for everyone to take their favorites home.
Don’t forget your water! Feel free to put it in a wine glass with a slice of lemon. If you are having a drink or cocktail, remember this- empty calories. Liquor is not adding any nutritional value to your body. So enjoy a drink, but not instead of your H2O!
Filling your plate
So many choices surround you! It seems like no matter how simple you may try to keep Thanksgiving dinner, there are always so-many-choices. This is ok! Don’t get stressed.
Tip- do not use oversized plates for dinner. This may be hard if you are visiting. Look at your dinner plate and stick to the middle of the plate. Leave the outer circle of your plate clear and don’t stack food high on your plate.
Tip- Look at all that is on the table for dinner before you put anything on your plate.
- Most of us start with turkey- protein is taken care of! Your protein should be 1/4 of your plate.
- Then look for your starch. Try to stick to whole foods- potatoes and other root vegetables are fantastic. If there is an option between roasted and mashed, stick to roasted. This should be another 1/4 of your plate. You may run into a problem here because you see 3, or 4, or 5 things you want. That is ok too. You have 1/4 of your plate to fill with your starch, so just take part of the serving spoon (a taste).
- Lastly, you have 1/2 of your plate to fill with… Veggies! Look for a variety of colors- green beans, butternut squash, roasted peppers.
- Don’t be afraid to have the variety of Thanksgiving food on your plate, but do watch how much you put on your plate.
Tip- Don’t go for seconds. Your host is sure to pass the serving bowls around again. Normalize saying these things:
“I’m going to let my dinner settle first”
“oh, I missed that, but I would love to take some home for tomorrow”
“I’m done for now, perhaps in a little bit”
Pie and dessert
I think everyone is going to like to hear this… you can have dessert! If you love pumpkin pie, have a piece.
Tip- survey the dessert table first, then pick up your plate. If there are several items you would like to taste, ask for smaller pieces of each. Even better, you can ask your sweetie if they would like to share your dessert plate so you can each have a taste.
Tip- You’re actually full, but don’t want to be rude (?)
Normalize this- it is not rude to be full! No way does anyone want you to make yourself sick just because you needed to try their pie. Ask your host if you could take a piece of pie home or (even better) just tell them you have had enough for now.
After the festivities
Is everyone sitting around, ready to dig into the rest of the food. Suggest a game! Cards, Charades, Taboo, Jenga are all great family get-together games. You could even have brought one of these as your contribution to dinner instead of food.
Above all, enjoy the day! Tomorrow is another day and you are on your way to maintaining your healthy goals. Happy Thanksgiving! ~xoxo