Here are a few of the tips that I have to escape the guilty feeling of overindulging:
▪ Try Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner “grazing”. Load your plate with mainly vegetables and whole grains and just a smaller side of lean turkey. When the rest of the dishes and desserts are passed, choose one or two that you really want, but put just a spoonful of each on your plate – not an entire serving. Do the same with the desserts. That way you will get a taste of the holiday foods you love most, without overeating or feeling deprived. (Two foods I often choose to skip are white potatoes and bread.) What foods are you willing to skip this year?
▪ Try alternatives, not abstinence. You can roast sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg instead of marshmallows, for a lighter, healthier dish that still shouts “Thanksgiving!” Try making wild rice pilaf as an alternative to carb-ladened stuffing (see the recipe below). And yes, you can still have the traditional stuffing available, but this way people can choose. And who knows? They may prefer the pilaf!
▪ Don’t drink your calories. You don’t have to imbibe spirits to get into the spirit! You can enjoy a glass of red wine or beer with dinner, then switch to sparkling water with lemon. For a dash of holiday whimsy, you can drop in a handful of fresh raspberries and lime pieces into a water glass, stir, and sip! Remember that fruit juices, sodas and cocktails are so highly concentrated with sugar they can equal the same carbs that you would find in a dessert. Which will you enjoy more, and have that.
▪ Pace yourself. Remember, Thanksgiving kicks off a “season of eating” – if you let it. And this year, we’ve got a two-for-one – the first day of Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving. Don’t give in to the domino-effect that can happen from consuming large amounts of sugar, alcohol and dairy (and potato latkes!). Also, remember that food temptation is only one stress of the holidays; houseguests, family dynamics, kids home from school—all can send you running to the refrigerator. Try to be aware of your relationship with food and keep forefront in your mind how you feel after indulging. Headache? Bloated? Exhausted? Moody? Why ruin your holiday by not feeling your best? Reducing or eliminating sugar, meat, alcohol and processed foods will help you avoid these symptoms, feel better and have more energy.
▪ Don’t throw it all away. Even if you do over-indulge on Thanksgiving day, remember: it’s just one day. Don’t throw away all of your hard work by turning one day into a long-weekend marathon of eating. Stock up on disposable containers and send guests home with all of the leftovers. Find out if a shelter will let you bring uneaten pies, cakes and casseroles. You can’t eat it if it’s not in your house. If you have to, you can always toss out the temptations; after all, which is worse: throwing away food or throwing away your hard-earned health and wellness?
▪ Find other ways to enjoy the holidays. Bundle up and take a walk after the big Thanksgiving meal. Organize a game of touch football. Pull out the board games and close down the kitchen. Build a fire and tell stories, or watch old family videos (remember those?). In our family, we go around the table and each of us shares what we are most thankful for this year. Everyone slows down for a minute and it reminds us what the holiday is truly all about: Giving Thanks.
Link to Wild Rice Pilaf Recipe
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