Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season – it’s a time that sweeps a lot of us away into the land of nostalgic smells and foods, making it a challenge to stay on track with your health goals. I don’t think I need to convince you why eating 4,000 calories in one sitting isn’t a great idea. But in reality, it can sometimes feel easier to throw in the towel and put your health goals on a shelf for January first.
Holidays are such a charged time of the year – not only do we have warm and fuzzy memories of past holidays, but also the Internet and media have done a great job at hyping up thanksgiving since September 1. That’s a lot of pressure for one meal!
What if you became more conscious about the decisions you make on thanksgiving? When we build up the holiday so large in our minds, we tend to act from an emotional place rather than from a clear and rational point of view. Becoming aware of this is just the first step towards breaking this negative cycle. If we can reframe the meal as just another meal, we can enjoy all of the holiday foods without feeling bloated, gassy and lethargic afterwards. Here are some of my top five tips for making your thanksgiving weekend a healthier one.
1. SET YOUR INTENTION
Intentions can be helpful because they’re a place for us to focus our attention. Your actions stem from your thoughts and beliefs. If you’re constantly telling yourself how excited you are to eat all of the turkey, gravy and pumpkin pie, it will be all you can think about. When the moment finally arrives, you will enjoy it, but then the food is gone and the physical satisfaction from the fat and sugar passes quickly.
I find that setting an intention to fully enjoy the time with your family or to approach the meal gracefully helps direct your attention and begin to influence the way you approach all of the food. Feel free to borrow my intention or choose one of your own. Either way, think about what you’d like to get out of this weekend beyond food.
2. GET MOVING
Watching the parade or football game is fun, but nothing beats actually moving yourself. Plus - there’s something super magical about bundling up and taking a long walk with a cup of warm tea.
3. MAKE HEALTHIER SIDE DISHES
It’s a no – brainer that the canned cranberry sauce, gravy and candied sweet potatoes are hopefully the worst foods sitting at your thanksgiving table. But you can choose to make healthier swaps that end up being more delicious and better for you. If you’re curious what I’m making this holiday, check out my recipe guide.
Not hosting? That’s OK. Your host is probably really overwhelmed. Offer to lend some help and use it as an opportunity to share something healthy and delicious. Your host will be grateful and uncle john who is Paleo this year will be thankful for a healthy option also.
4. EAT SLOWLY AND FOCUS ON HOW YOU FEEL
It’s not the last supper, it’s just another meal. Slow down, focus on good conversation and approach your food gracefully. Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognize food in your stomach. This isn’t the last opportunity to eat turkey ever again. There will be plenty of leftovers that you can enjoy this week.
5. TAKE SOME TIME FOR YOURSELF
If you’re spending the entire weekend with family, in-laws or friends, it can be a charged environment and can sometimes feel overwhelming. Whether you genuinely get along (or not-so-much), it’s important to take some time for yourself. Step back, take a walk, listen to some music or a short meditation will help you find a little bit of space and reconnect with your intention and help to process any strong emotions that may have surfaced this weekend.
Wishing you happy bellies and full hearts for this thanksgiving!
For healthier thanksgiving recipes, check out my guide here. Bon appétit!