Thanksgiving Eating: Treat Yourself, NOT Cheat Yourself
I consider myself to be moderately healthy - I get to the gym 3 -4 times a week, don’t eat much fried foods or refined carbs, etc., but for some reason, I measured my BMI and according to a scale, I’m obese! That’s very frustrating because I really don’t feel like I’m obese and according to my mother who is entirely unbiased, I don’t look obese. I’m married to a beautiful fitness personal trainer and I have a gym in the basement of our building - there is just no way that I could be obese. And yet, on a very scientific looking chart in a book about healthy eating habits, according to my height and weight, I’m obese. With Thanksgiving being next week, a day in which the average person consumes 3,000 calories - during dinner alone - I’m afraid for my life.
This is the start of holiday season, a time marked by family feasts and overindulgence. For many, it’s also a time of great anxiety and frustration, but it doesn’t have to be. So here’s a few things that have helped me to cope with that epic battle between your brain and your stomach:
Get up - between meals, portions, servings; as often as possible, make sure you stand up and move around. Make this your night to walk the dog or consistently offer to bring people their drinks, clear their plates, whatever it is, just make sure that you’re not sitting down for four hours and eating. This will also give your body the time it needs to tell your brain that you’re full and that you should stop eating.
Slow down - you’re presented with a feast beyond words in multiple courses. You have nowhere else to be that night and you’re enjoying your quality time with your family - why are you in a rush to consume as much as possible? Take each bite, properly chew it, put your fork down and take a breath between bites. It’s not a race; it’s not even a marathon. It’s just a lovely meal with loved ones. Same as #1, this will also give your body time to catch up with your eyes.
Desert Dessert - this one is a stretch but do you need to have a full slice of each pie, and cake, and ice cream, and the cookies and, and, and…You don’t. What you do need to do is take one magical bite of the desserts that look the absolute most tempting. Let others take the bites of the cakes that weren’t that good. There is an economics law called diminishing marginal returns (hyperlinked above) which loosely translated means, “the first bite will be the best, the second won’t be as good, the third will be even less good”, and so on. Each bite is slight less satisfying than the prior one, so just take the first one, the best one, and move on.
Be confident - you are stronger than you think and those cakes and pies are not as good or as satisfying than they look. You’re better than them and you need to know it. More, you need to FEEL it. How do you feel confident before walking into caloriepalooza 2018? First, get your heartrate up during the day - go on a long walk, get 30 minutes on the elliptical or treadmill, lift something heavy and then put it down 25 times - complete something physical and get some satisfaction that you did something healthy. Second: give somebody you love a big hug and tell them how thankful you are for them. Third: make a donation to a charity either in your time, or with a financial contribution. In other words - do something to get your mind into a positive headspace.
Eat First - this one is questionable. I subscribe to the philosophy that a good way to deal with temptation is to remove it. By this philosophy, eat a healthy meal a few hours before going out for thanksgiving - it’ll curb your appetite immensely.
Eat Smart - this is more of a 5b and is an alternative. After all, you don’t want to insult the chef or the host, but prioritize what you want to eat. Go for the proteins and load up on them, followed by your healthy fats, followed by your carbs and even then, go for the complex carbs like the sweet potato mash or the baked potato, not the breads and stuffings. In this way, you’re giving your body the long term nutrients that it needs and the ability to digest and metabolize properly.
Shameless Plug - Eat a Bald Baker Cookie - yes, that’s shameless of me, but you are allowed to eat tasty, low sugar desserts. It doesn’t have to be one of ours, but you can make and bring cakes made with almond flour or quinoa flour, made with flax instead of eggs, made with low-fat alternatives to oil and made with natural, low-glycemic sweeteners like coconut palm sugar, or better yet, stevia or erythritol. Check this out (it’s an apple pie cake that has no sugar added at all and is absolutely delicious)
Eating a good sized meal during Thanksgiving should not be a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic - it’s not a holiday meant to cause digestive troubles, anxiety or the meat sweats. Eating a healthy meal on Monday is not a contradiction in terms. Thanksgiving, and the holidays following it, is a time meant to enjoy the company of your loved ones over a good meal and it’s a time to reflect on what you’re thankful for. So go into it feeling positive and feeling confident, no matter your weight or your daily challenges at work or home. This is a battle you absolutely can win.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone