Soon we’ll gather for Thanksgiving to celebrate good times, great food and fellowship with friends and families. We’ll get out the “good china” and produce grand tablescaps to impress our guests. Some of us take great pride in our culinary skills, believing we have what it takes to be “Top Chef.” We’ll take command of the kitchen to produce the lion’s share of extraordinary dishes that will be served throughout the day.
All of us at the Doctor for Life wish you a happy, healthy Thanksgiving Day! You probably won’t eat Doctor for Life-perfect, and that’s okay. Don’t worry about it! Enjoy the day. How you eat on Thanksgiving Day does not determine your health; how you eat the other 364 days of the year does. Here are 9 tips for making this special day healthier, plus 3 post-binge tips (in case you need them).
Pre Thanksgiving Tips:
Start a healthy Thanksgiving with a big bountiful breakfast like hot whole-grain cereal and an egg-white omelet brimming with veggies. That’s because saving up calories for the big meal rarely works. You end up “spending” a lot more by overindulging on belly busters like a full ladle of gravy (about 800 calories!) instead of a tablespoon-size taste (70 calories).
Call your host and say, “I’d love to bring something. What are you planning on serving?” If you discover that one of the dishes is particularly unhealthy, offer to bring your own version. Sweet potatoes, for example, can be real killers – full of butter, syrup, and marshmallows. But when prepared within Doctor for Life guidelines, they’re perfectly healthy – and absolutely delicious. Just bake the yams in foil at 400 degrees F until their syrupy juice starts to seep out, usually about one hour. Then, peel and layer them with pineapple slices and a little cinnamon.
For most of us, there’s a certain part of the meal that gives us the most trouble. For some, it’s alcohol. For others, it may be dessert. Devise a strategy. For alcohol, tell yourself, “I’ll enjoy a half glass of wine with appetizers, and a half glass with dinner,” or decide to stick with mineral water at first, saving your alcohol for the main meal. Or, if you have a tough time putting on the brakes once you get started, don’t start. Steer clear of the bar – and relish everything else the day has to offer – good conversation, good food, and good memories.
If you have a sweet tooth, plan for it. If a taste of chocolate satisfies you, take it. Enjoy it. But if one taste sends you lusting for a lot more, offer to bring your own healthy dessert, such as fresh raspberries and sorbet. Or have dessert waiting for you when you return home. A nice reward for a job well done! Put the mindful eating skills you learned at Doctor for Life into practice. Eat slowly. Savor every bite.
Position Yourself Well.
Don’t put yourself right in front of the candy dish. Who needs the agony? Plant yourself elsewhere, facing other pleasures – a nice fire, warm smiles, good tunes and a dance floor. You’ll have a much better time, and you’ll like yourself a lot more come morning.
Divide Your Plate Well.
As you learned at the Doctor for Life, fill your plate half with vegetables, one quarter with white turkey meat, and the rest with a healthy starch, like corn on the cob, a baked potato, or sweet potatoes Doctor for Life-style.
Savor Every Bite.
Eat slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and really savor each mouthful. It’s one of the easiest ways to enjoy your holiday meal without going overboard on calories.
Do What You Want; No One’s Watching.
People often think that if they say “no” to certain dishes, everyone notices, or the host is insulted, when in fact there’s a very good chance no one notices. Just play it down. Simply say, “No thanks, I’m full,” or “Try me later.” Then, sit back and enjoy the rest of your healthy Thanksgiving Day.
Start Thanksgiving With Physical Activity – And Stay Active.
Take the focus away from binging this Thanksgiving. Go outside and enjoy the crisp autumn air. Take a walk early in the day. And after dinner, suggest everyone go out (if the weather permits) for a neighborhood stroll. What a wonderful way for families to enjoy the holiday together. Another tip: Plan some outdoor fun before dinner, like a game of soccer or volleyball with the kids. (It’s a great strategy for keeping the appetizer buffet at bay, too.)
Keep Your Goals Firmly In Mind.
Before leaving for the party, steal away for a little quiet time to focus on you, only you. Take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself of your ultimate vision – a leaner you, a healthier you, a happier you. Then, tell yourself, “It’s going to be a great evening with family and friends!” Julia Child (of all people) said it best: “Life is the proper binge.”
Post Thanksgiving Tips:
Get Right Back On Track.
Don’t let a Turkey Day binge turn into an “I blew it” binge that lasts till January 1st. Toward that effort, make sure that you’re returning to a home well stocked with healthy foods for the day after Thanksgiving. A big bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen table. Fresh salad fixings in the fridge for lunch. Nonfat yogurt and other healthy snack foods. Make healthy use of leftovers. Top your salad, for example, with strips of roasted, skinless turkey breast. And certainly, keep moving. Get back to your regular Doctor for Life exercise routine, or if guests are in town, plan something active for all of you for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. A hike in the woods. A game of softball. Cruising the shopping mall. In other words, do your best to stay off the couch.
Stick To Your Normal Doctor For Life Routine.
Don’t, for example, overcompensate for your Thanksgiving binge over the next several days with a ton of hard-core exercise. Just stick to your regular fitness schedule. Trying to cram in extra workouts at the gym could leave you feeling stressed out. What’s worse, they may lead to an injury, benching you for the next several weeks. That’s the last thing your health and weight-loss goals need. Don’t let one day of overeating turn you into a butterball. Pick yourself up and get back on track.
In the days after Thanksgiving, don’t starve yourself either. Sure, it seems like a good idea; you want to eat less to make up for the Turkey Day binge. But as you learned in your health coaching and nutrition sessions at the Doctor for Life, restricting your food intake will only make you hungry. And when your stomach growls for too long, you know what happens. Any leftovers sitting in the fridge, especially the fatty, sugary ones, end up in huge platefuls in front of you.
Instead, start your day with a nice big bowl of hot, whole grain cereal topped with fruit, and if you’d like, an egg-white omelet full of stir-fried veggies. Round out the rest of the day with plenty more super-healthy Doctor for Life-style foods, like:
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh veggie snacks with hummus
- Green salads
- Cooked whole grains like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, and quinoa
- Corn tortillas with lettuce, onions, salsa, and pinto beans
- Hearty, bean-rich soups
- Nonfat Greek yogurt
- No-sugar-added applesauce
Stop With The Guilt.
No good comes from beating yourself up. In the coming weeks (when the four main food groups for many people are cookies, candy, fudge, and booze), do your best not to descend into a “binge-guilt-binge-guilt-oh-what-the-hell” cycle. Focus instead on the present, and praise yourself for laying the groundwork with a post-Thanksgiving Doctor for Life plan. Be proud that you’re conscious of your eating and exercise behaviors, and your efforts to improve them.
Even better, lay the groundwork for a healthier life in 2018 and beyond. Consider booking a culinary class or health coaching session at Doctor for Life in January. That way, even if you slip up over the holidays, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ve already made the commitment to “get clean” in 2018.
Here’s another plus about booking a Doctor for Life session in the New Year. Slated for roll-out in January 2018 is a new specialty program that will give you highly personalized support all year long. Keep on the lookout for details coming soon or give us a call.
With sessions at Doctor for Life, plus on-going support, you’ll really have something to celebrate in 2018!