5 Tips to make healthy choices through the stress of Thanksgiving.
By Allison Nichols, Health Coach
So. You’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Mom, Dad, Your sister, her husband, their 3 kids, Great Aunt Mabel and your next door neighbor are all coming. You’ve planned an elaborate meal complete with 26 pound turkey and all of the trimmings. Your plan for place cards, appetizers and three different pies looks good on paper, but now that you’re actually starting to put it together, you’re getting a little overwhelmed.
We all want Thanksgiving to be special—a time to cherish your family and spread your gratitude. Often what we deem as “special” turns out to be WAY more work than we intended. What was once going to be a joyful celebration with family turns into a stressful kitchen nightmare.
When you’re stressed and trying to do everything for everyone, the first thing you forget to do is to take care of yourself. You’re pulled in so many different directions that it’s impossible to stay centered and to make nourishing choices for yourself—especially when it comes to food. Before you know it, you’ve eaten three slices of pumpkin pie…and the turkey isn’t even out of the oven!
Stress eating, or emotional eating, is the number one coping mechanism employed over the holiday season. Not only is this time surprisingly stressful, you’re constantly confronted with seasonal goodies making the healthy choices harder to make.
Here are 5 tips to continue to make good food choices through the stress of Thanksgiving Day: how to turn stress eating into healthy eating.
Forego the cheeseball and crackers for baby carrots and veggie slices. If you feel the need to munch while you cook, reach for the veggie appetizers—the crunch of baby carrots and bell peppers can be surprisingly satisfying. When you’re in a stress snacking mood, go for the veggies over the dense Thanksgiving apps. Not only will you feel less full at dinner time, you’ll have covered your vegetable bases for the day.
Load up on Turkey and sweet potatoes. Pile your place high with delicious turkey and vegetables—centering your meal around protein will ensure that you feel full and satisfied longer. Filling up on protein will also help you feel lighter and more energetic after your Thanksgiving meal. Prioritze the turkey (you spent all day making it, afterall), and then add the stuffing, sweet potatoes and green beans.
Plan health-i-fied desserts. Of course you’re going to have dessert on Thanksgiving! No Turkey Day would be complete without a slice of pumpkin pie. This year, plan some healthy desserts to put out with your traditional desserts: an edible arrangement made of fruit, or gluten-free pumpkin pie sweetened with maple syrup. This way, when you have that slice (or two or three) of pie, you’re still making a healthier choice.
Remember: Thanksgiving always tastes better on Black Friday. Don’t be afraid to stop eating when you’re full: that turkey isn’t going anywhere. Just because it’s a special meal doesn’t mean you need to eat until you’re totally stuffed. Listen to your inner body cues and strive to stop eating when you’re just full enough to be satisfied. You can always go back for seconds later if you want them.
Be forgiving of your indulgences. After all is said and done, Thanksgiving is a special day and we tend to eat differently on special days. If you end up eating lots of cheeseball, green bean casserole, and pie, don’t worry too much about it. Be forgiving: in the long run, one day of unusual eating will not affect how long it takes you to reach your weight loss goals. Acknowledge your indulgences and choose to move forward.
With these 5 tips, you’re all set to make the healthy stress-eating choices this Thanksgiving. Surround yourself with healthy foods, and don’t worry too much about eating on the big day—Thanksgiving is ultimately about sharing a meal with family and friends.
Allison is a Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor. She specializes in working with individuals to cultivate a carefree relationship with food, and to have more vibrant, natural energy by transitioning to a whole food diet.