Thanksgiving is just around the corner! It's a day when we get to spend time with family, friends, and delicious food.
But this time of year can sometimes feel stressful for those of us who are trying to lose weight. Maybe you're attending a dinner hosted by someone who isn't exactly the healthiest cook. Or perhaps your weakness for sweets becomes a problem when dessert rolls around and you're faced with an irresistible spread of homemade pies, cookies, and cheesecake.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you feel bloated and gross after your Thanksgiving feast?
- Do you wish you could leave the table without unbuttoning that top button?
- Do you want to make it through the rest of the year without resorting to your "fat jeans"?
Whatever it is that makes Thanksgiving a challenging day for you, I can help. This year, you'll have no more feelings of regret, guilt, disgust or stress. You'll be able to fit into the same pants on Friday as you showed up in on Thanksgiving.
Check out my tips below for ways to feel amazing on Thanksgiving before, during and after the feast.
Sign up for a Turkey Trot.
Most of these races are short distances (typically 5K or 10K) and are designed for runners, walkers, adults and children alike. Turkey Trots are a great way to get in some exercise first thing in the morning and a fun opportunity to spend time with your family and friends. These races are typically very casual and it's not uncommon to see people walking or running in costume either. Last year I wore a turkey hat on my head and had a blast :-) Not sure where the closest Turkey Trot is? Click Here to find one near you. If a Turkey Trot is not on your calendar for this Thanksgiving, go to the gym or do some sort of exercise outside. Getting some activity in the morning of Thanksgiving will make you feel energized, decrease your stress, and help offset some of the calories from the food you'll be eating later.
Eat something beforehand so you don't show up to dinner hungry.
Eat a light breakfast and lunch earlier in the day. If you show up to Thanksgiving dinner starving, you're more likely to inhale your food and eat too much. Don't fall into the trap of eating nothing all day with the idea that you can eat whatever you want (and however much you want) once dinner is served. That doesn't work.
Bring a healthy dish.
If you're going to be a guest in someone else's house, offer to bring a dish with you. Contributing a healthy dish is not only a nice gesture, but it will ensure that there will be at least one healthy option on the menu. Remember, healthy can be tasty!
Be present, chew your food well, and put your fork down after every bite. Most people find this a bit challenging, but I assure you that slowing down will enhance your dining experience by allowing you to enjoy and savor the wonderful flavors and textures in your mouth. Plus, it's likely that you'll feel full before you even consider getting up for seconds.
Stop eating before you get full.
Instead of stuffing yourself till you feel sick, stop eating before you feel full. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to signal to your brain that it's full so usually by the time we're done eating, it's too late. Eating slowly and mindfully will help you stay in tune with your hunger signals.
Exercise portion control.
Avoiding weight gain over the holidays doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of the foods that you love. You can eat whatever you want, even dessert. The key is portion control. Now I'm not big on calorie counting, but keep in mind that one slice of pecan pie can run anywhere from 400-500 calories. That's just for ONE slice. Think about what you've already eaten up until that point and the fact that there's a good chance that pecan pie is not going to be the only dessert on the table that you want to try. Instead of snagging a second piece or filling your plate up with every single dessert on the table, take only the desserts you really want and don't feel obligated to finish them. Share your slice of pie with someone else or just try a couple of bites but don't finish it. Eat those bites slowly and mindfully...really taste it and enjoy. The satisfaction is no longer from shoveling food into your mouth, but rather from the delicious taste of pure bliss.
Eat your veggies.
Start off your meal with a salad or raw veggies. Eating nutrient-dense foods satisfies the body and reduces cravings. When we crave certain foods, sometimes that's a sign that we're nutrient deficient. For instance, a chocolate craving may indicate a deficiency in magnesium or a craving for red meat might indicate that the body is deficient in iron. Cravings are the last thing we want on Thanksgiving! Eating nutrient-dense vegetables will also help fill you up with high quality foods so you're less likely to overeat less quality food choices. You can't expect to feel amazing if you don't nourish yourself with amazing foods. You are what you eat, right?
Be mindful of your alcohol intake.
If you want to drink, go ahead and enjoy. Just remember to take it easy and drink water throughout the day so you don't get too dehydrated. Keep in mind that the more you drink, the harder it will be to eat mindfully, make smart food decisions and stick to healthy portion sizes. If you're calorie or sugar conscious, wine is a better alternative than mixed drinks.
Exercise after your meal.
Go for a walk, run around with your kids, or shoot some hoops. Bundle up and find an activity you enjoy outside. Being active after dinner will improve your digestion, keep you energized (avoid the food coma this year!) and give you an opportunity to spend time with your friends and family while getting some fresh air and exercise. Not a bad way to burn off some of your dinner either.
Focus on who you're with, not what's on your plate
Is your favorite part about Thanksgiving Grandma's famous pumpkin pie? If so, that's okay...I'm sure it's very delicious :-) But here's the thing: You're going to be surrounded by lots of tasty food at the dinner table. Enjoy it (and eat mindfully), but try not to let what's on your plate dominate the day. If you keep food secondary and focus your primary attention on the people you're with and what you're thankful for, you will feel more satisfied eating less food. Engage in conversation. Enjoy the company of the people you're spending the day with. Nourish yourself with the love in your presence. Too often we focus so much attention on our food, that we end up eating too much and not fully enjoying the people we're with. Celebrate this time with your loved ones and cherish every moment.