If you think back over all the challenges you’ve faced during your efforts to eat clean and keep your body in peak performance, standing up to grandma’s holiday favorites ranks fairly high. You may have even seen the temptation as too great a challenge and skipped the big family meals all together. Or perhaps you dove right in giving yourself a day of indulgence but then suffered from guilt, stomach aches and weeks of getting back on track. We think it’s time to enjoy the seasonal feast once again!
The very first thing, that is an absolute must in surviving the upcoming holidays, is to be real with yourself and your goals. Life cannot be perfectly planned and executed all the time. Things happen, like second helpings of Aunt Margaret’s stuffing. By understanding that every moment, every holiday and every bite may not be perfect all the time, you build in a little self-forgiveness, and this leads to the next crucial step.
If you build in those expected dietary pitfalls, you can shift your perspective. It’s no longer failing at your life health plan. It has now become part of your life health plan. If you haven’t slipped up, then there’s no reason to just let yourself go. You know the rationale, ‘you already made a mistake, so you might as well ride that wave until it becomes a tsunami and then deal with the weighty backlash.’ Not this year. If a plate of turkey and cranberry with a side of every type of pie is already written into your food journal, then it can be prepared for and moderated.
Start now! You’ve got two weeks to make the ultimate food choices and amp up your exercise routine! Kickstart your metabolism before the holidays, and you will find you naturally eat less, burn it off faster and with all the extra work you’ve been putting into yourself, your self-control with the sweet potato casserole will be on point!
Don’t eat less beforehand. You don’t want to approach a table of temptation fresh off a fast. Fill yourself with low calorie, nutrient dense lean protein and fiber to keep you full while not stretching the stomach. On the day of the big meal, not eating and overeating before dinner are equally damaging. Go for extremely low calorie with light satiation, like a protein shake or bar. You want to save your calories for the feast ahead but not enter starving.
Next, you must prepare your mind. Even with all the proper dieting and exercise, our bodies will take what we give them. If you keep eating, your stomach will make room. So start paying attention to your body and food now. This isn’t just for Thanksgiving. This is a benefit to your health for life. Learn to recognize when the body is full. Approach the dinner table with a small plate and begin with half servings of all your favorites. If it’s not in at the top of your list, give it a pass. Then eat slowly, considering the taste, texture and smell of every bite. Food only takes a few minutes to register with the stomach. By taking your time, you give yourself the ability to recognize the body’s natural cues that it has had enough.
Finally, teach yourself to stop when your body has had enough. Contrary to mothers everywhere, you do not have to finish your plate before you have dessert. Grab a few of your meal prep containers and have them ready for your leftovers and anything your mother demands you take with you. You can deal with that later. Have a guiltless Thanksgiving!