Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones, express gratitude, and enjoy delicious food. However, it can also be a source of stress for many. The fear of overindulging, dealing with stressful family, or just knowing how to eat can sometimes overshadow the joy of the holiday. But fear not, because with a little planning and mindfulness, you can have a no-stress holiday eating experience. Below are a few tips and tricks to enjoying your holiday food
Stick to Your Routine
One of the keys to successful holiday eating is maintaining your regular eating routine. Don’t skip meals or snacks earlier in the day in anticipation of a large Thanksgiving dinner. Continue with your typical breakfast and snack times. This will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent overeating later in the day.
Embrace Full Thanksgiving Meals
On Thanksgiving, it’s important to savor the moment and fully enjoy your meal. Don’t restrict yourself with smaller meals earlier in the day, thinking you need to save room for the big feast. Embrace the full Thanksgiving experience with all the recommended food components – turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and all the trimmings. This also includes all our macronutrients. Ideally we want to aim for the plate to include about ½ produce, ¼ protein, and ¼ the plate being a starch/ carbohydrate. For more guidance on how to build a meal check out our handy how to build a meal guide below:
Mind Your Hunger and Fullness
While indulging in Thanksgiving delights, be mindful of your hunger and fullness cues. It’s perfectly fine to have seconds if you’re still hungry, and it’s equally acceptable to stop eating when you feel full. Listen to your body; it will guide you. Check out our recent blog post for an easy guide to understanding your hunger/ fullness.
Beware of Grazing
Grazing throughout the day is acceptable and normal for many on the holidays but we want to be careful to not to let it disrupt your regular meal schedule. Snacking is fine, but it shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying the main Thanksgiving meal or lead to overeating. It is important to note that for some families, grazing is the only option for an earlier meal. If this is the case for you, try to remember our number 3 step! Grazing can be made into a meal, but we still want to focus on having a variety of nutrients and respecting our fullness.
Handling “Food Pushers”
Thanksgiving often brings out the “food pushers” – those well-intentioned folks who offer you extra helpings or make comments about what you’re eating. Remember that what you put on your plate is your choice. Be prepared to politely decline if you’re satisfied, and kindly accept if you want more. Trust yourself to make the right decisions for your body. I often recommend my clients to say “ Oh that looks so good. You know, I am full right now but would love some saved for later.”
Leftovers Are Your Friends
Don’t feel compelled to eat everything in one sitting. A fun part of the Holidays is often the leftovers. Remind yourself that there will be leftovers, and that you can enjoy them later that day or the next day. You can continue to savor the Thanksgiving goodness without the pressure to finish it all at once. You have permission to save for later!
Practice Coping Skills
If the holiday hustle and bustle start to overwhelm you, it’s essential to have coping skills ready. It is okay to step away from the situation, take a moment to center yourself, and take a deep breath. Return to the group when you’re feeling more in control and at ease. Others find that it is easier to have an activity for themselves. For example, taking care of the kids as opposed to listening to diet talk among the adults. Others like to have some topics on hand to change the conversation to, while others just need a moment alone. Whatever you need is okay.
Thanksgiving gatherings may lead to comparisons of what others are eating. Remember, what’s right for you might not be the same as what’s right for someone else. Don’t let others influence your decisions. Trust your instincts and prioritize your well-being. We are all unique individuals with our own specific needs!
Cherish the Moments
Above all, remember that Thanksgiving is a time to cherish moments with loved ones. It’s a holiday to express gratitude, share laughter, and enjoy good food. While holidays can be challenging, keep in mind that it’s just one meal. Don’t pressure yourself to make everything perfect. There’s no such thing anyway. Instead, focus on the joy and gratitude the day brings.
Remember these tips and you too can have an enjoyable and less stressful holiday! If you feel stress surrounding navigating holiday meals, we have experts who can help. Schedule your appointment today or contact us for more information!
Written by our Dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Genevieve Traversa MS, RD, CIEC