Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for feasting in America. Since the days of the Pilgrims celebrating their first harvest festival with the native Americans in 1621, Thanksgiving has been a time for celebrating our blessings with wonderful food and deep gratitude.
When you’re dieting, a holiday feast can seem daunting, and many a dieter has “fallen off the wagon” over a holiday meal… and some have failed to get back on. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you by being prepared for the challenges you may face at Thanksgiving dinner.
1 – Make The Healthiest Choices
There are many choices at most Thanksgiving dinners, and you don’t have to choose the ones that will pack the pounds on your thighs. Speaking of thighs… pass up the dark meat, and choose the white. It has about a third less calories for the same-sized portion, due to less fat content.
Grab the green vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts or green beans. Choose sweet potatoes over mashed potatos. Bypass vegetable casseroles.
Sure, have a little gravy or stuffing, but make sure it’s a small amount. Pass on the bread and choose more vegetables.
2 – Don’t Resist Your Favourites
If you simply love something that’s being served, have a few spoonfuls even if its not healthy. As mentioned above, a little gravy is just fine. Just don’t ladle it on. That goes for dessert too – choose your favorite, and have a small portion.
3 – Portion Sizes Are Key
Yes, portion sizes are a big deal here. People are going to want to pile your plate, but tell them you’ll have more later if you need it and keep your portion sizes reasonable.
4 – Skip The Toasts
Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories, so avoid the liquor (and the soda pop) that will be pushed on you, and grab a glass of water or another healthy beverage.
5 – Understand That You’ll Be Pressured
Every dieter has had to deal with (mostly) well-meaning friends and family who push food on them. It seems that as soon as we choose a behaviour that is different from the crowd around us, they feel a strong urge to overtly or subtley pressure us to conform. They might not even be conscious of doing so.
This behaviour stems from our caveman days, when conforming to the behaviors of the tribe kept you safe. If you were “on the fringes”, you were exposed to more danger from predators, and might have access to fewer resources. If you were too different from the norms, you might risk banishment, and banished tribe members didn’t survive long.
So when your friends, co-workers and family seem to be trying to undermine your choice to get healthy, just remember that it’s often done out of caring. They are trying to keep you safe. You, however, are no longer a tribal cave-dweller, and are in control of making the best choices for your health.
6 – Enjoy Every Bite
Thanksgiving is a time for being appreciative of the plentiful variety of food we have available – that’s one of the reasons a harvest feast is traditional. Take your time chewing and make sure you taste and enjoy every mouthful. Practice mindfulness about your food – focus on the flavor rather than the quantity you consume. Enjoy yourself but take your time and don’t feel you need more – you have enough.
7 – Don’t Beat Yourself Up
If you overeat a little, it’s not the end of the world. Thanksgiving is a once-a-year feast. Talk to yourself as you would to a friend and remind yourself of the goals you’ve set. Don’t abuse yourself mentally – it’s not supporting the healthy person you are working on becoming.