I never used to like Thanksgiving. It was the first day of the food-triggering season. The day when diets go out the window until your New Year’s resolution gets you back on track. The whole purpose of Thanksgiving (in my mind) was to eat everything you can until you can’t eat anymore. Plus, when I was growing up somebody (often it was me) would have a meltdown over something at every holiday.
Over the past 10 years or so, a few things have changed, and now I love Thanksgiving:
For one thing, now I am in charge of cooking the turkey, which really free’s my mother up. It is a win-win. I have only one job, and I’m good at it. My mother can focus on the more elaborate dishes and many of them can be finished ahead of time. She always gets to run a race Thanksgiving morning (she is out there right now: Go Mom!!!)
Also, I started a tradition of decorating my Christmas tree with my daughter on Thanksgiving. We play Christmas music and run the yule log video on the tv. We start planning out our gift-giving for the season. We make plans for things to do over Christmas break (my last job always closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s). It was a time to look forward to all the great parts of the season.
Finally, last year I realized that you could enjoy Thanksgiving without overdoing it:
The first part is to stick to my food plan for breakfast and lunch. I forgo the bagel breakfast with family and stick to my yogurt, apple, and almond. Eating anything off program early in the day will derail me, as I learned last Christmas. I’ve stuck to this all this year and it makes a big difference in how I feel about myself and the whole day.
I also make sure to not skip lunch. Some families have T-day dinner at mid-day, but we don’t eat until about 5. In the past I wouldn’t eat because I knew I would be eating sooo much for dinner. I’d get to the dinner table starving, which is counter-productive to eating healthy and making choices. You just want to eat anything and everything.
We do lots of appetizers at our house, so I focus on the ones that are whole foods that nourish: Butternut squash soup, shrimp, and veggies dipped in salsa or hummus. I sit as far away from chips and cheese and crackers as is possible.
Turkey is one of the best parts of the day, (I make a great turkey) and it is a healthy entrée. Surround that with green beans and sliced almonds, carrots with onion, and a delicious salad. I avoid any vegetable with cream sauce, cheese topping, or marshmallow. I love (love) stuffing, so I choose that over potatoes (both sweet and mashed). I know bread is a trigger for me, so I keep my stuffing serving very small. I I don’t really like cranberry sauce, so I skip that. The important thing for me is to have a plan. I know before I sit down what I will and won’t eat.
And I enjoy dessert. I’m looking forward to it right now! My mother makes the best pies. But here too, it is all about the plan. I’ve decided I will eat and enjoy a piece of pie. One piece. Not a sliver, that will make me feel deprived, but not a giant piece. And I will eat it slowly and enjoy every bite without guilt.
So I’m excited about today. I will share with loved ones, enjoy some great food, and feel good about myself. I have a plan and that is empowering to me. I also know that tomorrow will be back to my food plan. Today’s enjoyment isn’t a derailment, but rather part of my process. How do you handle the holidays?
Post holiday update: A great day overall. Tree is up. Turkey came out great. I ate a lot, walked a little, and enjoyed myself overall. So tired, so happy. Hope your Thanksgiving was great!