A few years ago I posted the following article, and clearly it bears repeating as we all venture off tomorrow to indulge in high-caloric feasts and/or family festivities. I’ve updated it a bit so read and remember, it’s going to be ok!
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.
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.
By moderation, I mean utilizing one (or both) of the following two approaches: healthy substitutions and/oror smaller portions/quantities. Here’s a simple list of choices and/or substitutions that are quick and painless and can make the difference between a 1200 calorie meal and an 600 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.
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 – keep the portion ridiculously small.
STUFFING: hard to make substitutions here (using gluten-free bread is one option), but if you are a stuffing junkie – keep the quantity small. I make stuffin’ muffins filled with lean apple chicken sausage, veggies, and apples which allows for less bread and better portion control in general.
GRAVY: another one that’s hard to substitute in a way that’s healthy and tasty, but if you keep it as a garnish and not a soup-sized portion, you’ll be alright.
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. You can then fill up your plate guilt free with these vitamin and fiber rich vegetables.
PIE: what can I tell you, desserts are where most people have the hugest weakness. I make organic apple pie casserole (with no refined sugar) with crumbles of gluten-free granola on top (therefore no crust) but if you have no healthy options, keep the portion size small including the whipped cream or ice cream toppings (or better yet, skip the toppings).
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 – 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!