Thanksgiving Survival Guide

It’s just about here! Thanksgiving! A great day or weekend to spend with family, do a little shopping, and of course, eat all the delicious food! It’s carb central!!! Mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, hot, fresh bread, and of course, all of the desserts and sweets. This can be a challenge to those who are trying to keep healthy, as well as avoiding weight gain over the long weekend.

Wow, I can’t believe how much there is to say about this topic! So listen up! Here are some great tips, tricks, and guidelines for helping you feel great through the weekend. There’s only one thing that we want stuffed on Thanksgiving, and that’s not you!

Number 1! Get in the right mindset.

This is not the “Last Supper”. Yes, there will be other meals, most likely even in the coming days, that you can continue to enjoy all of these foods.

What are we celebrating? Food? Typically, not as much as we are celebrating the gift of family and friends. What are you thankful for? Keep that in the forefront of your mind and try to make it your focus this weekend.

Number 2! Plan!!! Plan your activities, exercise, meals, timing of meals, and more.

Planning is essential when it comes to making wise choices during a time when we are not on our regular schedule. It’s easy to just cruise through the day and the weekend, mindless to how we are feeling, what we are doing, and what would be beneficial for us to do.

Start by planning activities other than food. Plan things to do by yourself (let’s face it, too much family together time can be overwhelming!), and things to do with others. Going to a movie, shopping, a craft, watching the game, or reading the book that you have been dying to read but could not because the fall was just too busy.

Plan exercise: a walk, hike, run or stroll, yoga, tennis game, racketball,  or a trip to the gym.  Get the whole family moving with an exercise routine made up of simple exercises that you can all do in the living room together or out on the front lawn. Make it a contest. Who can do the most pushups, the longest wall sit or plank, etc. Getting outside is especially helpful, even if it’s cold, just to breathe in some fresh air. Your mood will thank you!

Plan to help clean up the dishes. Lots of sitting around on Thanksgiving Thursday, and there will be lots of calories to burn, so get up and get moving!

And of course, meal planning. Do we really need ALL those starchy carbs? Take a survey of your friends or family who will be dining together and select your very favorite carbs of the meal. Rank in order and pick just two or three for the meal.

For many of us, however, we will not have a say in what dishes will be served with the meal, so commit to yourself that you will portion out your plate in the following way: ¼ plate of starchy carbs max, ¼ plate protein, and the remainder of the plate with vegetables. That would be half the plate, ladies and gentlemen!

And keep in mind, if you are a smaller person, let’s say 5’3” in height, and your plate is 15 inches wide, well you will still feel awfully sick even if you stick to the plate proportions above, so consider grabbing a smaller plate, or just visually put your foods in the center so that they do not spread out to the edges of the plate.

Thanksgiving meal is not the only food that can send us over the edge. Snacks and other meals will need to be considered as well. On Thanksgiving, it may be helpful to plan for just one healthy and protein-rich meal in the morning to tie you over until afternoon dinner.

If you are part of the meal planning committee, plan for a buffet so everyone can serve themselves (and diners are not tempted for seconds by the full serving dishes sitting on the table in front of them). Make it an event by serving in courses with time to relax and chat and possibly even throw a ball around outside in-between. That way your brain can catch up to your stomach along the way to tell it that, “Hold on! I’m filling up!”

Snacks and Appetizers
Be the boring one and bring a veggie tray for the afternoon lounge time in front of the game. If you are going to snack, make sure you are making good choices; less of the cheese, crackers and more of the fruits and veggies.

Number 3! Be mindful.

Stop. Pause. Smell your food! Be Thankful. Savor. Be present. Eat slowly, and chew well!

Drink in your surroundings. When was the last time you saw aunt Marge, or your nephew Bobby? Wow, how he’s grown!

Try to practice being mindful of your surroundings. The blessing of the people in our life.

Slow down your eating and try to enjoy every bite.

This is Sandy Kipp, your dietitian nutritionist, signing off and wishing you and your family the most wonderful Thanksgiving!