Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Ready or not, this week kicks off the holiday season!  Let the calories and dollars fly!  A truly healthy lifestyle means healthy all the time, that includes healthy holidays too (why do I hear people boo’ing right now?).  No, this doesn’t mean skip the pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes, it just means getting through the holiday without a major setback.  If every holiday and occasion is a setback then you end up spending most of the time digging out of holes rather than achieving balance. Here are a few strategies to help strike a healthy balance this week.

1.   Note To Self.  Say out loud right now how you want to feel on the Monday after Thanksgiving.  “On Monday, I want to feel____.”  Now say out loud how you do NOT want to feel on Monday.  “On Monday, I do NOT want to feel____.”   Write these two statements down on a small piece of paper. Carry this with you throughout the weekend (or post on the fridge) and take a peek at it once in a while as a reminder to get yourself to the Monday you really want to have.

2.  Get Physical!  Consider making the goal to exercise on each day of the long weekend.  That’s 4 workouts!  They don’t have to be long workouts but every little bit helps to offset the increased calorie intake.

3.  No Fasting.  To save calories and not ruin the appetite, sometimes people will eat nothing until the big meal on a day like Thanksgiving.  This is the worst thing to do.  Your best bet is to have the most normal eating day as possible, 3 meals and snacks as you usually would.  If you fast before the Thanksgiving meal, you will end up consuming more that day than you would have otherwise.  Going into a big meal very hungry is a dangerous set up for extreme overeating and huge spikes in blood sugar, which then affects your triglycerides, fat storage, and cortisol levels–and over time the cumulative effect increases your risk for type 2 diabetes.  Starving followed by a gorge is pretty taxing to the body. Be kind to your pancreas and keep your appetite and blood sugar regulated at all times.

4. Plan Your Attack.  Think of the 3 foods you are most looking forward to eating.  Sweet potato casserole? Pumpkin pie? Green bean casserole?  Make a plan in advance about how much you would like to eat of those 3 items.  Example, “I will have 1 serving each of sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole and 1/8 sized slice of pumpkin pie, on Thursday and Friday, then no more!”  Writing down that plan will increase the likelihood of sticking to it by about 300%.

5.  Wiiiiii!   Make sure there is a Nintendo Wii at the party. If you have it, bring it. If you don’t, ask someone who has it to bring it.  This will get people on their feet.  Wii sports, Dance Dance Revolution and Just Dance 2 are games that are very active for the whole family.  An active game also tears everyone away from the food.  This will be a nice break especially for the non-football fanatics!

6.  Cut the Fat.  To save calories, eliminate your least favorite side dish from your plate.  If you are just so-so on one of the side dishes, skip it! No sense in adding those calories.

7.  Leftovers Turned Left Behinders. Do not, I repeat, do not take leftovers home with you.  If the host/hostess is too persistent, take the leftovers and throw them away before getting home.  I know it sounds bad, but it’s better than consuming extra calories.  Anything is better than that, right?  Let the holiday eating end when the holiday ends.  The quicker you can resume your normal, healthy diet, the better. Otherwise this could be you at 2am on Friday.  We’ve all been there!

8.  Portion Crowd Control.  If you are cooking, be very careful at menu planning, making only the amount you need.  For example, if you always have way too much pie, scale back this year.  Try not to be the persistent host/hostess, because your guests may also be trying to scale back.

9.  Remove A Little Stress From the Season.  Think of one stressful aspect of the holiday that you can cut out.  If there is nothing you can cut out, then think of one stress-relieving activity to add to your weekend (e.g., quiet time (read: babysitter), a walk alone, massage, a favorite holiday movie, mani/pedi, sleeping in).

10.  Food Industry Take Over. We often are dismayed about the commercialization of the holidays, but in addition to commercialism, the holidays have also become very food-focused.  Think of any holiday and it’s easy to think of the list of foods attached to them.  Part of this is tradition (e.g., Grandma’s pie) but part is also the food industry inserting themselves into our traditions.  Notice how you get bombarded by all the holiday food items right when you enter the grocery story!   We are under siege by the food industry and it is detracting from the true meaning of holidays.   Let’s not forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving… parade floats, football, and grandpa falling asleep on the couch….oh, and giving thanks.

On that note, THANKS for reading 🙂

Have a truly wonderful Thanksgiving!

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  1. Susan Bakke says:

    This is great Sherry..this one day of overeating can set us way back..its not worth it..I love the idea of having Wii at the party..get the family it!!! thanks as always for your insight…

  2. Scott says:

    Thanks! This is so much better than my original plan to eat everything in site then run for for 12 straight hours.

    Your guide is much more achievable. Thanks again for this source of great advice.

  3. Jillian says:

    Fantastic advice! Great post!

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