In November of 2013 I published this article to help reduce some of my client’s anxiety over the impending Thanksgiving feast. I thought it best to repeat it this week as Thanksgiving 2014 is just days away. I have made a few more notes of nutritional advice as well. Hope it helps a new group of food-worriers.
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Here it comes, the single most high-caloric, high sodium, high sugar meal of the year — Thanksgiving!
It’s no wonder so many of my clients suffer anxiety over the this annual feast of thanks. They worry about what to cook, how to cook, when to cook, what to eat, what NOT to eat, and the biggie … how much weight they’ll gain. Okay, people, listen very closely to what I’m about to say….
DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT!
The reality is that unless you gorge yourself on crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats for 48 hours non-stop, you’re not going to do that much damage in one day/meal. Now I know some of you look at the Thanksgiving feast as just that … crappy processed carbs, sugar and fats, but in reality for most the meal just isn’t that bad, especially if approached with moderation, and an accepting state of mind. Stress puts more weight on than a meal, and accepting that this is just ONE higher calorie day out of many other days where you burn more than you consume, willl help you relax.
Again, the key is moderation. Substitute healthier food choices when possible. Eat smaller portions when your only choices (or your desire) is less quality and higher calories. Here’s a simple list of choices and/or substitutions that are quick and painless and can make the difference between a 1400 calorie meal and an 800 calorie meal.
TURKEY: Eat the white meat, it’s packed with protein, and very lean. If you love the dark meat, just mix a small quantity in with the white meat.
MASHED POTATOES: Substitute mashed sweet potatoes or yams. Use olive oil and non-fat milk instead of butter and cream. If your starch tradition also includes yams covered with marshmallows, consider nixing the marshmallows, but at the very least, keep the portion ridiculously small.
STUFFING: Hard to make substitutions here (gluten-free bread is one), but if you are a stuffing junkie – keep the quantity small. I personally make small “stuffin’-muffins,” which allows for better portion control. (Rachel Ray has an excellent recipe, google it!)
GRAVY: Another item that’s difficult to substitute in a way that’s healthy and tasty (and also must be altered for those looking to be gluten-free) , but if you keep it as a garnish and not a soup-sized portion, you’ll be alright.
VEGGIES: Skip the green bean-mushroom soup–Velveeta casserole, and just oven-roast your veggies with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper. You can then fill up with these powerful green veggies loaded with vitamins and fiber, helping you to eat smaller portions of the starchier side dishes.
BREAD: Bottom line is rolls are a redundant waste of nutrition-less filler that you can definitely skip. If you’re having stuffing there’s already enough of bread on your plate!
DESSERT: What can I tell you … desserts are where most people have the hugest weakness. I make organic apple pie casserole (with no refined sugar) topped with crumbles of gluten-free granola (therefore no crust), but if you have no healthy options, keep the portion size small and skip the ala mode (ice cream) in favor of a small dollup of home-made whipped cream (made with only a dash of maple syrup as the sweetener).
ALCOHOL: Being that I was grew up not far from Napa, California, wine is definitely a part of my thanksgiving feast. But I keep it to Red (which has less sugar content) and in general is healthier for you (if kept to moderation of course).
In conclusion, don’t sweat Thanksgiving. It’s a lovely holiday where friends and family gather to eat, drink, catch up and hopefully share a few laughs. Keep your nutrition in check but don’t micro manage it, and on Friday, work out instead of or before shopping (although walking the mall is good for burning a few calories as well).
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!