Many of us, despite our best intentions and knowing better, often get derailed with our eating during the holidays – either consuming way too much or giving way to the sugar fiend.
We might believe we’ll be missing out if we don’t take advantage of the special occasion. Or we might feel like particular dishes won’t be coming around again any time soon. The bountiful buffet of Thanksgiving may just be too tempting.
I try to think ahead about how to navigate the holidays without sacrificing the joy of delicious food – and not ending up in a food coma. My goal is to be the healthiest, happiest and strongest version of myself – indulging gently, but also handling cravings and overeating. Here are a few of my favorite tips to help you manage holiday eating.
“Crowd out cravings” with Good, Nutritious Food
This approach can be as simple as having breakfast and lunch on Thanksgiving day. Don’t refrain from eating during the day because you want to “save up” for your holiday meal. That’s a recipe for binging. Eat a healthy breakfast (with a protein and veggie) and a healthy lunch (with a protein and veggie). Come to dinner feeling interested but not ravenous.
Load Up on Volume Healthily
There are ways to fill up while actually consuming fewer calories than you otherwise would. When serving yourself, pile your plate high with salad and veggies first.
Veggies contain fiber which provides volume and makes you feel full. Other high fiber foods include fruits, whole grains and beans. Some people like to take a fiber supplement.
In addition to being high fiber, many veggies and fruits contain a lot of water. Water-rich foods also provide volume and keep you satisfied. Cranberries, those stalwarts of the holiday season, contain over 85% water, along with oranges, grapefruit and strawberries. Topping the veggie high-water content list are cucumber, lettuce and celery.
Of course, drinking lots of water will keep you feeling full. A good rule of thumb is to drink ½ your weight in pounds, in ounces. If you weigh 150 pounds, you’d want to drink about 75 ounces. Teas, bubbly waters and broths count!
Eat Your Turkey
A good deal of evidence suggests that protein activates the release of the “satiety (fullness) hormone,” says Richard Mattes, M.D, Ph.D., nutritional sciences professor from Purdue University. After you’ve piled your plate high with salad and veggies, add the turkey and then look at other foods as condiments to be enjoyed.
More Choices = More Eating
Know that people tend to consume more when they have a variety of options in front of them. Think of the buffet where many of us choose with our eyes rather than our stomachs. I like to remember this when looking at the Thanksgiving spread.
If present in the moment with gratitude for your family, friends and food, it is usually easier to consume less and feel more satisfied. Periodically pause while you are eating and ask yourself “Am I still hungry?” We should eat until we are 80 % full.
Emotional Self Care
This time of year can be emotional trigger time – with unspoken stress and tension. The easiest and safest place to relieve that stress often is in a plate of mashed potatoes and turkey stuffing. To avoid turning to food for comfort, think about ways you can nourish yourself this week — ways that don’t involve food. For me, that means staying in line with my meditation practice and taking walks. It also means making sure I have meaningful conversations with the ones I love instead of spending too much time in the kitchen. Pick one or two “best habits” you think you can commit to during the holiday frenzy. Write them down and stick that piece of paper on your bathroom mirror or computer — wherever you will be reminded!
Here’s to a happy Thanksgiving week. I wish you all joyful times with family and friends. I am so grateful that I get to do what I love — help people stay nourished and healthy with wholesome, tasty food. I am also appreciative of the support and feedback I receive from so many of you! Remember that simple things add up to big changes. I have seen it over and over again.