5 Tips to Survive Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving and somehow it’s not just the turkey who can’t make it through the day without getting stuffed! Even though we promise ourselves, year after year, to practice portion control and stop before we pass the point of discomfort, we inevitably end up feeling like we might burst. As a holiday that is completely based around food, how can we not? The day is all about feasting, eating, drinking, and celebrating the bounty of the harvest, and of course all of those delicious dishes we are ever so thankful for. Some might say embrace it, loosen your belt, and be grateful that it only comes once a year. Others say they have lost weight this year and don’t want to ruin their diets so they simply are not participating in a Thanksgiving feast. There is a better way to enjoy the ultimate foodie day!  It doesn’t mean missing out on all of the fun food or overindulging and feeling miserable afterwards.

Here is a dietitian approved list of strategies you can use to keep you from feeling overstuffed and miserable, while still feeling like you were able to fully participate and enjoy the traditions of this glorious holiday.

Practice mindful eating

What is eating mindfully? It’s slowing down, enjoying your meal, and savoring each bite individually. It’s how the French stay slim on a diet of pastries, chocolate, butter, and bread. Instead of heaping piles of food on your plate, racing to be the first one to go back for seconds (and thereby take the rest of the dark meat because everyone else had their chance…) and making yourself sick on the delicious food, slow down. Put average or even small helpings of your favorite dishes on your plate, slowly chew, take pauses (put your fork down every few minutes) and enjoy the flavors of the feast. Once you feel about 80 percent full, push your plate away, cover it with a napkin (or if you still have a lot on your plate, save it for later), and be done. 

Wait 20 minutes

Before you go back for seconds (because everyone else is) wait 20 minutes. It takes 20 minutes for your body to signal to your brain that you’ve had enough. More often than not, if you wait for twenty minutes and allow your food to settle, you will forget all about that extra serving of mashed potatoes you thought you needed. Engage in some meaningful conversation (no I don’t mean politics, family scandals or sports scores…) with your loved ones. After all it is a holiday to cherish one another and the relationships you’ve been blessed with. Take time to talk about what you are thankful for from the previous year. It will fill your heart and warm your soul, something that no amount of food can do!

Leave the room

If you’re still feeling tempted, leave the room. Get a group together and take a walk around the block. Start a game of cards, charades, or stand up and move around by helping gather dishes. Changing up your scenery is helpful if you are surrounded by food. It helps reset your mind and distracts you enough that you won’t go back to grazing out of boredom or because it’s what everyone else is doing. 

Remind yourself you will eat again soon!

You don’t have to scarf it all down in one sitting. If you didn’t eat all the dishes you wanted before getting to that 80% fullness, wrap up your plate and tell yourself you can have it when you are truly hungry again. This also works great for that pie that gets passed around before anyone is ready for it. Save dessert for later, or even the next day. Just because you don’t eat it all at once doesn’t mean you are missing out. 

Food is more than fuel. It’s tradition, it’s enjoyment, it’s family. Robbing yourself of the experience of Thanksgiving can end up making you binge later because you felt like you were cheated. Indulge a little, but do it the right way. Eat the things you truly love (don’t waste time with your aunt’s marshmallow salad, she won’t be offended) and stop when you are satisfied. This way you will truly enjoy the holidays, without regret, discomfort, or sacrifice! If you’re wanting a few healthier options to add to your feast, here are a few sides that will help you make the most of this special meal!

Hayley is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist, a part-time yoga teacher, and full-time mother. She is passionate about health, nature, and empowering others to reach their full health potential. She works as a health coach, nutrition writer, recipe developer and group fitness instructor. She is energetic and passionate about delicious food and promoting health of the body, mind, and spirit. She hopes to inspire others to eat closely to the way that nature intended, capitalizing on the amazing benefits of whole, unprocessed foods. Follow her posts for nutrition advice and delicious recipes!

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