Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's all about the food and the family, and if I only had one meal to eat forever-and-ever, it would be Thanksgiving dinner. But for many people, along with the holiday comes food-related anxiety, guilt, and that uncomfortable, over-stuffed feeling that can last for days. Here are my tips to enjoy the holiday and focus on what you're grateful for, instead of wasting this precious time with feelings that don't serve us.
Your digestion begins before your food even hits your mouth. Relax. Breathe. Know you are going to enjoy a delicious meal, and that it's ok to do so. Being mindful of what you're going to eat not only allows you to enjoy your meal more fully, but your body will digest and assimilate the food better! You might even want to use a mantra like this one, "I am going to enjoy a delicious meal with people I love" and/or meditate for a few minutes. (And let's be real - when gathering with family, a little extra meditation probably would do us all some good!)
Taste, Chew, and Enjoy
When you taste and savor your food, you enjoy it more, but you're also much less likely to over-eat. No matter how delicious the food, if you're shoveling it into your mouth, or are preoccupied with worrying about what that piece of pie will do to your hips, you won't really taste it, and you really won't enjoy it. And then what's the point? You'll also lose track of your body's natural signals. If you slow down, chew, and really taste your food, you'll notice when you're starting to get full. Just because it's a holiday, doesn't mean you must eat to the point of bursting.
Eat. Enjoy. Stop when full.
Give Yourself Permission
Unless you have a medical reason to avoid certain foods, if there is something on the menu that you don't normally eat but is making your mouth water, eat it! (And enjoy it). I'm sensitive to wheat, so I normally avoid it. But, my mom's stuffing and gravy is pretty much my favorite thing to eat, ever. I'll also have some pie, and eat the crust. Because it's Thanksgiving, and it's only once a year! But, I'm not going to gorge myself on it and eat the leftovers for days, either. So eat a little bit of the thing you don't normally have, and enjoy every bite of it,. But don't eat it everyday for the next week.
Eat Your Other Meals (And some healthy snacks)
Starving yourself all day long to "save up" for the big meal doesn't really work. You know it. You'll give yourself low blood sugar, and set yourself up to gorge. Plus, you'll be a nicer person to be around. Eat breakfast. If you eat a late Thanksgiving dinner like my family tends to do, eat lunch. I just had a protein and fiber-filled green smoothie. Eat some eggs. Eat some apples and nuts. Eat some veggie sticks. Protein, fiber, healthy fats.
Drink water. Drink herbal tea. Start the day with warm water with lemon. (In fact, start everyday that way). Keep your caffeinated beverages to a minimum. You'll have less bloat, you won't mistake thirst for hunger, and your skin will look better.
Make time for a little "you" time
Being surrounded by people can sometimes be a little over-whelming. And let's be real, we love family, but that family-dynamic can be extra special. Even if all you can do is escape to the bathroom for a few minutes to take some centering breaths, finding a teensy bit of alone time can help keep stress in check.
Don't Drink Too Much
Because empty calories. Also remember that whole mindful eating bit? You'll be much more likely to over-eat. You already know this though. By all means, enjoy it if you imbibe, but drowning your "my ____ drives me crazy" feelings in the bottom of the bottle doesn't end well.
Move Your Body
Get some kind of exercise. Go for walks. Join in that touch-football game. Do something to move your body, and your body will thank you. Get up the day after Thanksgiving and get to that yoga class or go for a hike. (I guess mall-walking counts if Black Friday is your jam?!) Do it because it makes you feel good, and not to punish yourself for eating Thanksgiving dinner.
May you enjoy this day free from food-related guilt, anxiety, and over-eating. And make time to be grateful - for everything you have, is someone out there wishing for just that person/thing.
And tell me in the comments below if you use any of these tips, or have any others you recommend!
Grow Happy, Grow Healthy,