The holidays can be a very stressful time of year. Depending on your family dynamics, you could be spending Thanksgiving alone, at your own home with immediate family, hosting this year’s holiday feast, or traveling elsewhere to celebrate the holidays with others. Any way you look at it, you’re going to run into stress. That’s why I think it’s imperative to know yourself well enough to identify what can help you stay calm. And that’s where the Holiday Survival Kit comes in! My friends and I shared ours here.
✨ Strong coffee and a cute mug: because everyone needs a pick-me-up and caffeine will never let you down
✨ Chocolate: for when life gets just a bit too stressful and you need a moment to escape
✨ Candle: you’d be amazed; scents can do wonders for the mind and the soul
✨ Pumpkin: because really, what would Thanksgiving be without this?
✨ White wine: for toasting the fantastic food and time with family
✨ Shakeology: I’ve got to get my protein!
✨ Veggies: I can’t go a day without something green
✨ Cell phone: how else do you expect me to take pictures or to call my family?
In addition to keeping your favorite holiday-spirit items handy, there are always other hiccups to deal with. Every year, I tell myself the I need to be better about my eating and that I need to eat more greens and less starches. And sure enough, Thanksgiving is suddenly here and what a, I chowing down on? Oh that’ right – yeast rolls, pecan pie, and mashed potatoes with gravy. And every year, I wind up going home disgusted with myself! I just can’t seem to get it straight and I always end up overindulging and feeling very bloated afterwards. So, I’ve been researching tips on how to survive Thanksgiving without the lingering guilt and extra baggage (aka a few extra pounds). Let’s work together to make this the most successful holiday yet – one where we come out on Friday saying “yes!!! I did it” versus hiding from mirrors or attempting to cardio-crash ourselves into feeling better.
The Reason for the Season
First and foremost, let’s take a moment to remember why we’re here. Thanksgiving isn’t about football or a smorgasbord of food – it’s about being grateful for what we have. Remember to sit back and take the time to reflect on what you’re thankful for.
Apple Cider Vinegar – need I say more?
Start your day off right with ACV. Our body is in constant search of equilibrium and ACV can help achieve it. By drinking it once a day, the vinegar helps the body maintain a healthy alkaline pH level. Research has shown that ACV worked just as well as diabetic drugs in reducing blood sugar surge and improving insulin sensitivity. Did you know that drinking a tablespoon of ACV before each meal has been shown to decrease fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels? My dad is pre-diabetic, so this is one of the first things I recommended to him!
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
I love this quote by Benjamin Franklin because it rings true in so many areas of our lives. We all have an idea of what will be served at the various Thanksgiving events, so get a game plan together about how you’re going to survive. If you have a weakness for sweets because you don’t eat a lot at dinner, plan on eating more filling foods so you’ll be less inclined to overindulge your sweet tooth later. If possible, bring along a dish that meets your dietary needs so you can not only help out, but you’ll feel better knowing what’s gone into the dish (less guilt).
Make sure your first meal of the day is well-rounded. Resist the urge to skip and splurge later on. By skipping breakfast, you’re essentially starving your body and you’ll be more likely to inhale and overeat. At the same time, don’t eat a ton of bread or empty calories because you’ll just wind up hungry again in a few short hours. A great breakfast can be a simple as eggs, whole-grain toast, and some mixed greens or fruit.
Get in the right frame of mind. The holidays is a time for family and celebration, not for stress and anxiety. Shift your mindset into weight maintenance instead of weight loss. Set realistic expectations for yourself and stick to them. By doing this, you’ll feel successful about sticking to your eating habits and you’ll cut the guilty conscious out of the picture. But remember – if you don’t meet your expectations and slip up, it’s just one meal. Forgive yourself and then move on with your day. Tomorrow is a brand new day!
Split it Up
When it comes time for the big meal, think fractions: ¾ to ¼. Three quarters of your plate should consist of proteins and fresh veggies, while and the remaining quarter of the plate should be used for the side dishes.
Color Does Matter
Pay attention to your dishes! Research has shown that the more contract in color between your food and plates, the less like you’ll overeat! So avoid the white china (which turkey and potatoes blend into) and break out your most brightly-colored plates! Another trick is to use a smaller plate. This will force you to control your portion sizes and ensure you don’t offset them fractions rule! A smaller plate means less food consumed and therefore less damage!
Limit your alcohol. We all know that when we have a few drinks, we tend to get hungrier and that’s just a slippery slope. In fact, did you know that drinking too much alcohol is can increase your craving for salt? No wonder we crave French fries after a late night out! Bonus: If you plan to have more than one drink, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking a glass of water between alcoholic beverages. This will help to rehydrate your body and also fills up your stomach so you don’t overeat due to dehydration!
Even though you’re probably eating more than usual and you’ll be surrounded by family, it doesn’t give you an excuse to be complacent. After the big meal, offering to help clean up the kitchen will be a gracious act and burn some of the calories from dinner. You can also take advantage of the time together and recruit the whole family to go for a walk!
While it’s very important to remember portion controls, that’s not the sole purpose! As I’ve been saying all along, the holidays are for joy and celebration, not angst and stress. So give yourself a break and enjoy your favorites. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving are the memories and traditions! So don’t deprive yourself from enjoying your favorite dishes. This is one day and one meal – it’s not the end of the world. Having a small scoop of your grandmother’s chocolate pecan pie or the homemade pumpkin cheesecake won’t kill you.