The war is on: Thanksgiving is here. I only get to enjoy this once a year. Greg, I don't care what you say. I'm going ALL IN. Break! By the middle of the Thanksgiving war, your stomach is DONE. I mean, you ate way more than you wanted to. You are high on sugar high feeling tired and left immobile. Thanksgiving won. Maybe next year you'll try again.
I want to share 3 simple Holiday Feast tools you can use to maximize food enjoyment and fullness during the holiday season. For some, it is their favorite time of the year. Others don't care much at all. Either way, you can always use strategy to make sure you are getting the most out of your food and prevent that dreaded over-stuffed feeling.
#1. Eat 1 meal before the Big Holiday Feast I used to fast the whole day of Thanksgiving in preparation for the big evening feast. When the feast came, I was eating nonstop to compensate for the day's lack of food. Placing my daily nutrition on ONE meal lead to binging/overeating, and you may be going through the same thing now. If you want to control your intake, this starts at the beginning of the day. I encourage you to have at least 1 main meal before the late afternoon/evening feast. Some quick examples include:
PB & J sandwich and string cheese
Smoothie with boiled egg(s)
Scrambled eggs with toast & fruit
Chicken salad with crackers/toast
It's really up to you! When you have a meal before the big Feast, you are more likely to control your intake when the Thanksgiving meal comes. Imagine a Thanksgiving day when you are not cranky or hungry because you haven't eaten all day. That can be you this year if you eat before the meal arrives. Your stomach will thank you so much you won't even hear it.
#2. Drink water throughout the day
Whatever the type, Just drink water. There will be enough sugar around the table for you to satisfy your sweet tooth. Why get more sweetness from sugary beverages? You need something to wash it down with. Drinking water throughout the day and even at the Thanksgiving meal will help you stay hydrated and decrease your overall sugar intake (that you'll already be getting through your favorite dishes and desserts). Bring your water jug, set a reminder on your phone, request water, and ask if they'll have water before you even show up. Be in control of your hydration.
#3. Portion & Space your meals out
We see the Thanksgiving Buffet & BOOM! Our eyes become bigger than our stomachs. We load up on the Mac & Cheese, Turkey, Ham, Yams, Greens, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and all of Shirley Caesar's other eclectic menu items. We eat our first plate and for the rest of the day, we become debilitated. We can't move because we ate so much (and we've only been there for 30 minutes at this point). We are STUFFED on stuffing. The buttons on our dresses pop off because of the dressing. We went crazy on the gravy (all while the salad, greens, beets, fruit, & a lot of vitamin-rich foods are left untouched). Wouldn't Thanksgiving be more enjoyable if we were able to try/enjoy everything in moderation and not feel defeated after we eat 1 plate? YOU DON'T have to load up every single plate. This goes back to #1 and why eating before the Thanksgiving meal begins is important.
TRY THIS: TREAT THANKSGIVING LIKE A TASTE TEST.
Try small portions of the foods initially. Try all menu items. Become familiar with what is available. Give your body a break. Wait 30 minutes before getting back up and getting another plate. Go back for your next taste test. Wait 30 minutes. Repeat. Chances are you'll be there for a while anyway. TAKE YOUR TIME! The best part about doing this is:
Improved portions on Thanksgiving Day = More leftovers Tomorrow.
I'm Grateful to you.
The season can be stressful. Above all, make sure you show grace, extend appreciation, and be present at the moment with the people you are spending time with. I wanted to take the time to say thank you to all of you who always read these articles and support me. I want to continue posting relevant and helpful content for all of my viewers. Please let me know what you would like to hear about. Don't forget to like and comment below with your thoughts on this piece. Also, let me know what you would like to hear about next. Blessings to you and your family!
Gregory Lafortune, MS, RDN, LD