Tomorrow will be two weeks until Thanksgiving Day. Last year at this time, I’d already made a commitment to God and myself that I was going to get healthy by losing some weight and becoming more active. I’d lost 7 pounds and I didn’t want to lose my momentum. I worried about the big noon Thanksgiving meal at my mother’s house and the dinner feast at the Rosser family reunion later that night. I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday with all my favorite foods. But last year, I had to come up with a different mindset. I could not go into either meal unprepared and go at it willy-nilly until I could barely move.
So, I am going to share some of the strategies I applied during the entire holiday season last year. I hope this gets you into a grateful (not a “plate full”) attitude. You have two weeks to gear up for it!
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1. Eat something healthy before your big Thanksgiving meal. I made sure I ate breakfast that morning AND I ate some raw vegetables with light ranch dip before my noon meal.
2. If your meal is a pot luck meal, make a scrumptious low-fat/low-calorie/low carbohydrate version of a Thanksgiving food you really love. You can do a recipe search and find all sorts of alternative recipes to replace the high fat/high calorie/high carbohydrate versions of your favorites. You have two weeks — there’s time to plan it all out, so start now!
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3. Drink a full glass of water before your meal. Remember that sometimes we think we’re hungry, but we really need hydration. It will allow you to eat slowly and recognize that you’re full before you go for seconds (or thirds).
4. Eat from a small plate. Okay, for those of you who just rolled your eyes, conquering our cravings involves what we SEE as well as what we EAT. Make sure you have a rainbow of colors on your plate. If all your see is white or brown, you are setting yourself up for disaster. Not only use a smaller plate, eat slowly, sipping water between bites. Cleanse your palate often so that you can TASTE all that great food.
5. Sample a couple of bites of all your favorites. That means if Aunt Suzie Q’s Cranberry Salad isn’t your favorite, don’t put it on your plate. The sense of deprivation will derail you faster than you may realize. Say no to anything that you just don’t absolutely love and say yes to a little of the things you that truly make Thanksgiving special to you.
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6. If you’re eating from a pot luck or buffet table, peruse every food that’s being offered before making your choices. If you start at the beginning of the buffet and just take a little of everything, that can set you up for failure. Some smart choices are raw vegetables with a small portion of dip and lean proteins. Avoid anything with a crust or puffed pastry.
7. Don’t skip dessert. Yes, I just said have dessert. But choose one dessert and have a small portion of it. You can employ the “palate cleansing technique” of having several sips of water between bites. When you’ve had 3-4 bites, drink another full glass of water. (THIS REALLY WORKS! It’s how I survive pot luck meals at church.)
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8. Avoid stress. Stress can lead to stress eating — another source of eating plan derailment. Plan NOW what you’ll be cooking and if there are any dishes that can be made ahead and frozen, do a little each day. Thaw them in the refrigerator the day before Thanksgiving and cook them on Thanksgiving morning. You will avoid a mound of unwashed dishes and the stress of cooking ON THE DAY of your Thanksgiving celebration. You can do a recipe search of great dishes that freeze well.
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9. Avoid/limit alcohol intake. This is easy for me, as neither of the people who host my Thanksgiving meals serve alcohol. But I had already made a choice that I’d rather not drink my calories. When I started my new eating plan on October 23, 2012, I looked at the things I ate and drank that I could give up without suffering too much. One of those things was the occasional cocktail. In fact, I’ve only had one cocktail in the last year (when we visited Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville on vacation this summer — you know I couldn’t pass up just one little margarita). Do I miss it? Not at all. But I know that some of you will attend parties and feasts where alcohol IS served. So make a choice ahead of time to only have one cocktail or to have none. It will save you liquid calories that do not fill up you up.
Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps (recipe coming Friday, November 15, 2013)
10. Be bold and introduce some new, healthy foods that just may end up being holiday favorites. Turkey and dressing is traditional, but it’s not exciting. Researching foods that are delicious but nutritious is the way to be a “food-inista.” Be on the cutting edge as a food connoisseur by bringing a dish that’s great, but untried at your Thanksgiving gathering. You could be the hit of the feast!
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With these techniques, not only did I NOT gain weight during Thanksgiving 2012, I lost an additional 3 pounds by the end of November last year. On Friday, I plan to bring you some recipes that just may be worth introducing to your family and friends in this holiday season. Until then, start planning ahead — and be thankful!
- Get ready for Thanksgiving (notjustsassyontheinside.wordpress.com)
- Diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving recipes and tips (shellynajjar.wordpress.com)
- Keep your diet on track this holiday season (medicalnewstoday.com)