Gobble, gobble, indeed! According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. Whoa! That’s more than double the average person eats on a regular day. That’s pretty shocking.
This is particularly problematic for people with autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimoto’s, or those who contend with joint pain, reflux or food sensitivities. Underlying conditions almost always flare! Sometimes immediately, sometimes up to two days later.
Why, oh why, do we do that to ourselves?
Of course, you hear the stories of family drama, but it seems to run much deeper than that. It’s as if Thanksgiving has become an overeating contact sport. We start preparing in advance and even start bemoaning the after-effects of too much food well before the actual event. We act as if eating until bursting point is expected and completely out of our control. And just like a football game, Thanksgiving comes replete with the after-game commentary and play-by-play.
We also tend to do what we’ve always done. Overeating on Thanksgiving, in essence, has become a habit!
The great news is: You can change that script. It is entirely possible to indulge in all of Thanksgiving’s deliciousness AND feel satiated, content and even full, WITHOUT having to resort to elastic-waisted pants for a few days.
5 Easy Ways To Survive the Thanksgiving Food Fest
Eat Throughout The Day — Often we approach Thanksgiving thinking that we will forgo food during the day in order to partake more heartily during the main event. Big mistake! In fact, when we skip meals we generally eat more. Choose small, filling meals. For breakfast, have a bowl of gluten-free oatmeal with berries and nuts. For lunch, have coconut milk kefir with nuts and fruit, or avocado toast — think slow-digesting carb with a healthy fat and protein. It will stabilize your blood sugar, keep you satiated, and set you up for a healthy Thanksgiving meal.
Skip the Snacks — One of the wonderful things about Thanksgiving is the home-cooked meal. Mindlessly eating chips, store-bought white breads, and other processed foods, not only is unhealthy and stimulates your appetite, but it’s also not tasty. Stick with real food — fruits and crudite are great choices for healthy snacking.
Forgo The Impulse to Mirror Other People’s Eating — How often do you reach for food when you see someone else eating? Right. Me too. It takes awareness. Every time you start to reach for something at the hors d’oeuvre table, ask yourself, “Why am I reaching for this?” If it’s because someone else is eating, pick up a glass of sparkling water instead.
Eat Your Veggies! — Rather than filling your plate with everything on the table, start with a plateful of salad and vegetables. Most Thanksgiving meals have salad, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and other delicious but overlooked vegetables. Start with them instead of making them an afterthought. Once you’ve enjoyed your veggies, then take a little bit of everything else. In fact, switch your plates. Use the dinner plate for the salad and vegetables, and the salad plate for turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and stuffing.
Slow Down! — Put down your utensils between bites, sip water between bites, and focus on connecting with those around you rather focusing on the food in front of you. Take the time to appreciate your food, smell it, look at it, and savor it.
Oh, and give yourself permission to leave food on your plate!
Do you have a hard time staying on track during the holidays? Or, does holiday stress overwhelm you? Consider working with a Health Coach (hey, I’m one!) who will help you create a stress-free holiday survival plan and stick with it. Learn more about CoachMe.
Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.