I debated posting this week. I think we are all bombarded with tips and tricks for staying "on track" during the holiday season. I didn't want any eyes rolling as I added my input. Then I remembered some tips I shared with women at a weight loss class two weeks ago. I decided to share these and provide a (hopefully) refreshing approach to holiday eating.
First, remember your health and wellness is a product of consistency. This means, you build your foundation year round, 365 days. The holiday season, which inevitably starts Thanksgiving week and goes until the new year, is just a small portion of the year. I am not saying this is an excuse to load up on sugar and alcohol for the next month and a half. I am saying you can indulge when appropriate without derailing your progress on your real food journey. I repeat: you are a product of the choices you make everyday. That being said...what are some ways to enjoy the holidays without throwing your nutrition and wellness standards out the window?
Pass on the salad?!
A lot of mainstream and conventional nutrition wisdom is going to drill the "fill your plate with veggies" mantra. No offense, but that sounds like the makings of a lackluster holiday meal. My sister and I actually make it a point NOT to fill our plate with veggies (gasp). The fact is, salad and other leafy greens take up a lot of room in your stomach. For me, filling up on salad is just a fast track to discomfort. I HATE feeling full. I hate the feeling when my stomach is distended and expanded. It makes me feel sick and terrible and it takes way too long to pass. For that reason, I pass on the salad and enjoy a tasty holiday veggie dish, such as a few roasted carrots. It is completely okay if you avoid the greens for your holiday meal, nothing bad will happen to you. Avoid the filling salad and tackle the good stuff using my...
Three Thanksgiving Tips:
1. Eat what is special.
I was listening to a podcast this week and they stated that we are all adults, and we can prepare traditional Thanksgiving foods whenever we want, so don't eat like it is "all or nothing". I agree with the idea that we shouldn't eat everything in sight "just because". However, I disagree with the statement about having these foods whenever we want. For me, and surely many of you, the holidays are about cultural and family dishes that I only get once or twice a year!
My family spends Thanksgiving with my dad's family. We are portuguese and the holidays feature delicious dishes made by my grandmother and aunt, as well as amazing homemade desserts made by my cousin. I eat those foods because they are special to me. You should not deprive yourself, but be selective. Eat what is special to you.
Example: Bread is a "filler". Your Aunt Suzy's secret ingredient homemade stuffing is not. Many people will have bread while they wait for all of the food to be ready, and then dive into three cups of stuffing (often because they are starving from fasting all day). Although I would not encourage the consumption of excess bread and other carbohydrate rich products, I want to point out the difference in the two. Bread is not special. A recipe that presents itself as a family tradition once a year is special.
The best part about family dishes is they are likely the result of someone's hard work in the kitchen. This care and time devoted to cooking a special dish will likely mean there is a real food base. So pick out what is special and enjoy it, avoid what is commonplace in your diet. Now, when I say enjoy what is special, I do not mean eat until you can't move, this takes us to tip #2...
2. Eat leftovers.
What do you do when you've picked out the special foods, but you start to feel full? I tend to get full from appetizers because there is always a terrific meat and cheese platter (yum!). In the past, I would force myself through the main dishes anyway, leaving me full and nauseous. Now I know better. I stop myself from getting to that point by reminding myself that there are always leftovers. Fill a plate and ask your host if they have some aluminum foil to wrap it. More likely than not your host will be flattered that you like their cooking too much to miss out. If it is your immediate family, don't be shy, take some tupperware with you to fill. It is much easier to stop eating when you are full if you are not worried about when you will get to enjoy the dish again. This tip applies to desserts too!! If you're full, ask if you can take home a slice of your aunt's homemade apple pie to enjoy later.
3. Eat before you go.
Okay, so I know this is something you have heard before, but it is important. If you skip breakfast you will 100% land yourself in the full and sick category. Also, if you hope to utilize the first two tips, you really need to eat first to be successful. I prep a big breakfast casserole for my family on Wednesday. I either cook it fully on Wednesday and then warm it in the oven on Thursday morning, or I pop it in the oven early in the morning on Thursday to fully cook. An egg-based casserole is the perfect, low carb way to start your day. If you must have a carbohydrate indulgence that day, save it for the thanksgiving meal.
Extra tip: If you have a food allergy or sensitivity and there is a dish you want to have, make it for yourself. This way you don't need to worry about being limited in what you can enjoy. I plan to make paleo stuffing and a dessert this year!
Let me know how these tips work for you!
Happy Thanksgiving :)