Surviving Thanksgiving

Every year clients and friends vent and lament to me about their anxiety over the upcoming Thanksgiving feasts and how this holiday ruins their fitness goals.  Every year I remind them all that Rome was not built in a day, nor was it demolished in one day either.

So I thought it best to repost my Thanksgiving column from November 2013 as the advice therein still holds true.  So take heart, enjoy the holiday and the food, be smart not reckless (with your nutrition), and as soon as your schedule will allow, get back to working out!

Does Thanksgiving give you anxiety?

I am amazed at how many of my clients have anxiety over the Thanksgiving holiday. 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.

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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 I know that in reality most of the meal is not that bad for you if approached simply and with moderation.

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By moderation, I mean utilizing either healthy substitutions in your cooking, OR simply enjoying smaller (much smaller) portions/quantities.  Here’s a example of choices and/or substitutions that are quick and painless and can make the difference between a 1200 calorie meal and an 800 calorie meal.

TURKEY:  eat the white meat. Packed with protein, very lean. If you love the dark meat, just mix a small quantity in with the white meat.

The-Perfect-Turkey

MASHED POTATOS:  substitute mashed sweet potatoes or mashed cauliflower.  Use olive oil and non-fat milk instead of butter and cream. If your starch tradition also includes yams covered with marshmallows – keep the portion ridiculously small.

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STUFFING:  hard to make substitutions here (gluten-free bread is one), but if you are a stuffing junkie – keep the quantity small. I make stuffin’ muffins, which allows for better portion control.

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GRAVY:  another one that’s hard to substitute in a way that’s health and tasty, but if you keep it as a garnish and not a soup-sized portion, you’ll be alright. You can also try using a veggie based gravy (onions or mushrooms) and leave out the cream, just add in the turkey drippings and whisk till well mixed and “creamy.”

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Veggies: skip the green bean with mushroom soup and Velveeta casserole, and just oven-roast your veggies with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper and your can fill up with these powerful green veggies loaded with vitamins and fiber.

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PIE/DESSERTS: what can I tell you, desserts are where most people have the hugest weakness. I make organic apple pie casserole (with no refined sugar) using crumbles of gluten-free granola on top (therefore no crust) but if you have no healthy options, keep the portion size small and skip the whipped cream or ice cream toppings.

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ALCOHOL:  being that I am NOT a tea-totaller, 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), and no more than 2 glasses — moderation of course!

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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!

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