Don't Gobble Until You Wobble!

Now that Halloween is over, it's time for Christmas! Oh wait...first it's time for Thanksgiving. With all the Christmas marketing and preparations, Thanksgiving gets treated like a dinner party to welcome the Christmas season, instead of a holiday to commemorate the Pilgrims' arduous beginnings in the New World. At least that's how I treated it until I married my husband, who doesn't celebrate Christmas. For his family, Thanksgiving is The Holiday, not the opening act. Now I enjoy Thanksgiving as its own unique and special day, separate from the upcoming December holidays. Confession- I think I've taken the festivities too far. Here's how it goes down.

On Thanksgiving Day, I help prepare a delicious meal for my husband's enormous family (and some of my family too). There are typically around 26 guests, although last year we had 35 and this year there are a few new children and spouses. We have a large meal and if I've planned it correctly, there are only a few leftovers. Friday is used to prepare for Saturday, when I celebrate a second, full Thanksgiving with my much smaller family- 6 of us total. We have a large meal, and if I've planned it correctly, there are so many leftovers we all feast for the next week and still have food to spare. To give you some perspective, last year we roasted a 23 pound turkey. For 6 people. It's true.

I know I'm not alone. Many people choose to celebrate Thanksgiving with more than one group of friends or family (e.g. more than one feast), and each celebration wants to feel like the main event. So how do we toe the line between celebration and plain old gluttony? Honestly, sometimes I don't find that line until I've crossed it. That being said, I have a few suggestions to help you stick to your healthy eating goals in the face of a 23 pound turkey.

Obviously if you're making Thanksgiving dinner yourself, you have more control over the kinds of foods being prepared so you can serve a delicious and healthy meal. If you're at someone else's home for dinner, you might be faced with foods that aren't conducive to healthy eating and you'll want to make some choices.

First, prioritize. Take a good look at all the options before you fill your plate- then decide what you can and can't live without. I can live without mashed potatoes, so I typically skip them and choose stuffing instead. If you honestly can't opt out of anything for fear of hurting feelings, take a very small portion and either don't eat it, or only eat one bite.

Once your plate is full, know your limits and don't feel pressured to push them. If you're full, stop eating- even if there's food left on your plate. Family meals can be an invitation for others to give their opinion about what you are or are not eating, but don't take the bait. A simple "Everything was delicious but I'm full" should be sufficient.

When it comes to dessert, some treats are healthier than others. Pies made from fruit or vegetables tend to be better options than those made with cream or nuts. So go for the pumpkin or apple pie, and skip the pecan pie or cheese cake. If the crust isn't great, leave it and just eat the filling- you'll save around 120 calories.

Even though you're busy with meal preparations and travel, make time to stay active. Maintain your usual workout schedule leading up to the holiday and do something a little extra on Thanksgiving Day; take a walk, play some touch football before dinner, or sign your whole clan up for a local Turkey Trot. After that giant meal? Get moving! Resist the urge to sit and take a 15 minute walk instead. Keep the pace comfortable but not sluggish to help control your blood sugar and reduce the circulating fat that comes from a meal high in carbs and butter- it will also help your body digest the large amount of food you just ate.

I hope you and your family have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!


kschaeff with dog

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