This Thursday most of us will find our way to the homes of family and friends (or they to ours). We will roast turkeys and mash potatoes and ladle gravy and pour wine and slice pies. We will toast to our blessings. We will reminisce.
Thanksgiving comes with high expectations of a Norman Rockwell meal around a perfect table with a perfect meal and a perfect family. It can be riddled with challenges when those expectations aren’t quite met. It’s also a holiday almost entirely about food, which makes it my very favorite holiday, but poses challenges of its own. For some of us, family conflicts, absent loved ones, and opportunities to overindulge at every turn can be a recipe for a very stressful day. Ideally, though, Thanksgiving is a day for simple abundance and for counting our blessings.
I’m often asked for tips to avoid diet disaster at Thanksgiving and I do, of course, have some. But the most important thing to me is to preserve a Thanksgiving mindset. To be thankful. To set aside the conflicts, competitions, and long-standing grudges and simply to be with whomever you’ve chosen to be with on this special day.You are blessed. This is a day to honor that.
If you’re still itching for those practical tips, here are just a few:
1) Eat the things you dream about all year.
No one will tell you that stuffing is health food, but how many times a year do you actually EAT stuffing? So enjoy it’s annual appearance on the Thanksgiving table and savor every morsel. Skip the things that you eat routinely (dinner rolls, perhaps) in favor of the special dishes.
2) Remember, it’s just dinner!
Exercise a little portion control; build a dinner plate instead of a mashed potato mountain and you’ll leave the table feeling pleasantly satisfied, rather than dealing with impending food coma.
3) When it comes to dessert, have a bite.
Be choosy about desserts – have a bite or two of your favorites but save the slice of super-colossal-triple-decadent-whatever cake for a day when you haven’t just eaten Thanksgiving dinner. Ending a meal with something sweet is delightful; and the first few bites are always the best.
4) Find the “uppers.”
Spend your time on Thursday with the people who lift you up and make you feel great! Avoid the people who bring you down or make you feel small. You know who they are – so seek out the uppers and invest your time with them. It’s a day for feeling good; don’t complicate this. Emotional stress will just make you want to eat more.
5) Move it.
Just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to sit all day. Find a local 5K or 10K to run (Cincinnati readers: the Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day Race is a GREAT one and you can register on race day at Paul Brown Stadium.) or go for a walk before the day swings into motion. Or, organize a post-dinner walk or game of touch football. You’ll return refreshed, energized, and ready for planning your day of Black Friday shopping!
So with those few tips and a commitment to preserve a positive Thanksgiving mindset, may you have a delightful and truly satisfying holiday!