On a day that’s become synonymous with over eating, napping, and over eating again, I’m not here to dissuade you from partaking! Goodness no. What I am going to tell you is a few survival tips for making it through Thanksgiving in a way you feel good about.
Not in the physical altercation way, although I’m sure some family gatherings aren’t complete without one of those. But in an active way – do some type of physical activity! Last week I gave you (nearly) a bajillion and one ways to get your physical activity in. Just pick one on the day of Thanksgiving and get your body moving.
Not only will it get the blood flowing and likely help with digestion, but it’ll take you away from all the food for 30 minutes. Give your jaw a break and give your body a little time to catch up on all the food processing.
If you’re able to convince a family member to come with you, catching up over a walk or leisurely bike ride is an alternative to catching up over yet another piece of cake. Think about it – if you catch up with each person over a piece of cake, you’re gonna be at least one and a half cakes deep! If you end up going that route after you get your 30 minutes in, I recommend throwing in some chocolate chip cookies just for variety’s sake.
Only Eat While Sitting at the Table
This one isn’t meant to treat you like a child, I promise. If your Thanksgiving gatherings are like many of mine, there’s finger food and snacks while Thanksgiving dinner is being made and there’s a myriad of desserts laid out after dinner is cleaned up. Those snacks and desserts stay out and available for picking pretty much all day long. It’s one of the few days of the year where food is just out for the taking during all waking hours.
Walk by on your way to the fridge for a cocktail refill, grab a cookie. Stop by to talk to granny, sneak a chocolate covered pretzel. You get the idea. All these things are just our brain tricking us into thinking, “Wow, looky here! This handful of candy was just what I was looking for.” But you weren’t looking for it at all! You were on your way to help wrangle kids and your cave-man era brain derailed your plans.
So when I say to only eat while you’re sitting at the table, it removes the temptation to keep picking at food you’re not even hungry for. At the very least, it causes you to pause and determine if you really want to eat it. If you decide you do want to eat it, then sit down and go for it!!! But it becomes a conscious choice rather than the mindless eating default when food is so readily available.
Offer to Help
If you’re a guest at the gathering, offering to help is an easy way to keep yourself busy and away from the food. Keeping occupied is one of the most effective deterrents to overeating at a Thanksgiving get together. As I mentioned above, most of the unwanted eating is a result of mindless eating and picking at food. So if you’re busy helping the host/hostess, it gives you something else to do.
Not to go all biblical on ya, but that old saying “the devil finds work for idle hands” comes into play here. If your hands are busy doing dishes or putting leftovers in Tupperware, they’re not going to be making a grab for the third brownie. You can help take out the trash or put the extra tables and chairs back in the basement for them. Or if you’re like me and want to keep the party going, play bartender every so often by asking who needs a refill or another round!
In addition to easing the clean-up burden of your gracious host/hostess, the job gets done faster and you can have real time to catch up with them (over pie if you want!). So put those idle hands to work and keep the food devil at bay.
Eat the Damn Pie
My last recommendation for surviving Thanksgiving is to eat the damn pie! You may be sitting there like wait, what!? We just went over all these ways NOT to eat so much.
Yes, we did. But Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same if you don’t allow yourself to indulge a little. Eating just a little too much once in a while isn’t going to wreck your efforts toward a healthy lifestyle. Surviving Thanksgiving doesn’t equate to depriving on Thanksgiving. It’s about having a plan going into it and allowing yourself some wiggle room (notice I didn’t say a free pass to eat everything in sight).
Give yourself grace, catch up with friends and family, live a little, and eat the damn pie.