Navigating The Holiday Spread

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again: Thanksgiving. A full day of enduring annoying relatives, feasting on a buffet of foods and passing out in front of the football game with your pants unbuttoned.  So how does one successfully navigate a holiday known for over-indulging and still feel healthy?

Here are a few tips to help you survive this bingeing holiday:

  • Don't go to the Thanksgiving dinner hungry: we often eat faster and more when we are hungry - therefore eat a wholesome breakfast and lunch on the day to avoid overeating at dinner time.

  • Remind yourself you are in control: Fill your plate half with vegetables, one-quarter with a lean meat and the rest with a starch of your choice. Eat slowly and stop when you are full.

  • Chew chew chew. Most people do not adequately chew their food before swallowing. Chewing is the beginning of the digestive process. Chewing breaks your food down from large particles into smaller particles that are more easily digested. This also makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients and energy from the food particles as they pass through, while also preventing improperly digested food from entering your blood and causing a wide range of adverse effects to your health.

  • Turkey - go skinless: choose your 4-oz turkey portion skinless to slash away some fat and cholesterol. Save your appetite for the side dishes and desserts.

  • Side Dishes - watch your portion size: go for smaller portions. This way you can sample all the different foods. Moderation is always the key.

  • Make a conscious choice to limit high fat items: high-fat food items can be found in fried and creamy dishes as well as cheese-filled casseroles. For instance, mashed potatoes are usually made with butter and milk; green bean casseroles are often prepared with cream of mushroom soup, cheese, and milk and topped with fried onions; candied yams are loaded with cream, sugar and marshmallows. If you cannot control the ingredients that go into a dish, simply limit yourself to a smaller helping size. Again moderation is the key.

  • Beware of sneaky calories: You might be patting yourself on the back for bypassing the stuffing and gravy, but if you munched on cheese and crackers all day while cooking, know that those calories add up, as well. If you’re hungry while cooking, nosh on raw veggies and hummus or fruit

  • The first couple bites are the most enjoyable: Eat foods that you love and that aren't available at other times of the year, like homemade cranberry sauce, specialty sides, and pumpkin pie, and forgo everyday foods like chips, rolls, and mashed potatoes.

  • Drink plenty of water: alcohol and coffee can dehydrate your body. Drink calorie-free water to help fill up your stomach and keep you hydrated.

  • Cap off Thanksgiving dinner with a hot ginger tea. Ginger root is a powerful secret weapon!  It can counteract the turkey-day inflammation and is very effective in calming the stomach, aiding in digestion and reducing stomach bloat. Use fresh ginger steeped in hot water with a little lemon and raw honey to taste.  If you are brave, feel free to munch on a fresh slice of ginger for even bigger benefits.  It’s a punch of sweet and spicy and great for the body!

Most importantly, Thanksgiving can be an opportunity to practice one of the most powerful health-promoting actions that exist. Giving Thanks!  Gratitude has been proven to make you happier and healthier. According to recent research, gratitude is good for your physical, emotional, and mental health. People who express more gratitude have fewer aches and pains, better sleep, and stronger mental clarity. Go into your holiday focusing on all of the ways you feel grateful and enjoy every bite you take on this beautiful holiday!

Jen King