Updated: Nov 15
As a nutritionist I get asked about the holidays all the time. Not just my clients, but my friends also wonder what rules I keep and what I let loose on when we’re all gathered around the table. So I figured I would share some Thanksgiving tips to stay healthy, enjoy dinner and still feel good later.
We’ve all been there. The over stuffed belly. The tableside lethargy begging for an early bed time. The regret of dessert you knew you didn’t need but loved anyway. The less-than-proud feeling at the end of it all wishing you’d “done better”.
Here’s the thing, I want you to start with a little grace. Not just before you eat.. But after too. Life is a balancing act and when I’m working with people who strive for hero status at every turn, I find it's not only unsustainable but laced with an unhealthy side of negativity. Why? Because perfection is the killer of good and life needs to have some flexibility. So let’s start there. It’s the holidays. Your family gathered. Someone made your favorite pie. Enjoy it.
Here’s a few Thanksgiving tips to stay healthy and enjoy the season without feeling terrible in all the ways later.
One of my favorite gifts at holiday dinners is all the homemade goodness from everyone’s kitchens. All the effort showcasing what they love and make best. So take a gander at whats there and make a plan. What’s heavy and what’s light? Plan your plate before you line up.
Roasted veggies? Get it.
Ham or turkey? Pace this one.
Grains? Starches? Dinner rolls? Go easy.
Those lighter options are perfect for more real estate on your plate. Fill it up with veggies and salad. Enjoy the proteins and heavier dishes. You can always go back for more so maybe start small.
My mother-in-law always says what a gift it is to be hungry when it’s time to eat. So true! And how sad I always am when I’m full of appetizers before the meal even begins. I know those fatty apps and savory starters are super tempting but if you can avoid them, you’ll be glad you did when the dinner bell rings. Pick around the lighter choices if you have to but saving space in your belly will serve you well later.
It takes a minute for your stomach to talk to your brain so slow your roll a little. Savor the time you have talking to everyone and enjoy the company a little more. Chances are those who eat the fastest will be sitting and watching anyway, so don’t be one of them. Hang out and chew your food more. Besides the more you chew your food, the easier it will digest, so take your time and enjoy.
When you’re making your plan, see what choices you don’t want to pass up and what you can skip. No one says you have to have one of everything. But if Aunt Ethel is going to be offended, by all means put that marshmallow topped sweet potato on your plate. You can always push it around pretending you ate some of it like you did the peas you hated as a kid.
Water. Water. Water.
Obviously the less sugary drinks or cocktails you have, the better. But if you fill up with water, you’ll be less likely to fill up on junk. Go fizzy if you need to… and start early. Water rarely steers us wrong.
Lastly… walk it out.
One of my favorite things to do, which almost never happens, is the post dinner stroll. If you can convince the group to go for a walk around the block before dessert, you’ll be better for it later. Not only does that help get things moving but gives you a moment to let your stomach and brain chat it out. Go ahead and give your tummy time to make a little room.
So with that I encourage you to practice that grace, enjoy your holiday and feed your body, mind and soul. Spend time with those you love and fill your heart and table with gratitude.
Let the food matter the least…