I’ve been saying this every Thanksgiving since I was about 5 and started reading Madeline books, it’s a bit of a tradition now after everyone goes around the table saying what they are thankful for I end with that. This simple saying really got me thinking about Thanksgiving differently this year.
I used to dred this holiday like the plague, for me it marked the biggest binge day of the year, followed by days of feeling crappy and continuing the cycle, followed by Christmas and New Years to really top it all off on the gain 5 lbs front. But not anymore, for the past few years Thanksgiving has been what it’s really meant to be, a time to be with my family, to appreciate what I have and who I love and to kick off an awesome holiday season.We start the day with Turkey Bowl for my Dad and Fiancé, and a nice hike for me. My mom does final preps, I do my best not to make a mess, and then we wait for family to arrive.
This Thanksgiving I give you permission to eat, to not count calories, to not feel any guilt. Eat the pie, have the stuffing and gravy. Eat and enjoy, it’s one day. BUT, and here’s the big fat BUT, you can eat whatever you want, as long as you do so mindfully. Pay attention. Chew. Have one thing at a time. Focus on your hunger level, do you really want to be stuffed and passed out on the couch after? I think not. Leave room for dessert, pick the best item there is and savor it, take your time, do a little happy dance with your fork. When you are going to bed, leave it all behind, give thanks and move forward. Don’t let lingering guilt push you into a multi day binge that will only bring you down, you didn’t blow anything, you didn’t gain any weight, you will be fine!
Here are my tips to ensure you will leave your holiday gathering feeling energized and satiated instead of overfed:
1-When you wake up make sure you start your day with some exercise, aim to get your body moving for at least 30 minutes. This could mean playing football with the guys, chasing your nephew around the house, going for a walk, doing yoga, whatever floats your boat.
2-Have breakfast! I can’t tell you how many people I know starve themselves waiting for the Big Meal, but then stuff themselves when they sit down because they are soooo hungry! How can you slow down and make choices when your are starving?! I can’t, plus no one wants to be around you when you are hankry- you know, hungry cranky.
3-Chew, make eye contact, put down your fork in between bites, breathe! You know, all the things they taught you in etiquette school (ha ha) really work when trying not to overeat. Chew your food, taste it, really break it down, swallow. Make eye contact when you are talking to the other people at the table, don’t just look down and shovel and respond with food in your mouth, pay attention to what they have to say, they are more important than the food.
4-Bring something healthy. One thing! I am bringing a sautéed kale dish, this way, there will be something green on my plate besides for peas!
5-Dessert- yes have some! I give you permission, BUT pick 1 thing! The best thing, the pecan pie a la mode, or the delicious homemade apple pie, but pick one, bring home a slice of the other thing for tomorrow, you don’t have to have it all today, there are other meals to come!
6-Be Thankful! What did you accomplish this year that you are thankful for? What in your life are you in need of expressing gratitude for? Here is the most important part of this- what part of your body are you thankful for? Is it your beautiful eyes that help you see the world your own special way? Is it your strong calves that you got from playing tennis? Is it your hips and curves that scream I AM WOMAN?! Pick something, appreciate it, love it, it’s a part of you.
So back to the statement above, Madeline was right, we love our bread and butter- we love to eat- we love the flavor combinations and grandma’s mashed potatoes, but most of all, we love each other. We come together as families during the holidays because that’s the most important part, the love, the giving thanks, the appreciation for what came before and what is to come. So instead of spending the day in dread, thinking about all the calories, the guilt, spend it loving, loving life, loving food, loving family and friends, relishing your accomplishments and showing those around you how thankful you are they are with you during this time.
Tis the season to be jolly, (happy) not jiggly!