How does one survive Thanksgiving? That is a good question!
How am I going to survive thanksgiving?!? Well, here is the thing…..I don’t get all worried about healthy Thanksgiving eating. Why you say? Well, it’s one day. If you are living a healthy lifestyle you don’t need to sweat the small stuff. A lot of people think I must not eat the “good stuff” or eat anything at all or make everyone bring healthy foods. I just chuckle at you all to myself. Thanksgiving food is not necessarily unhealthy. I grew up in a home where everything at Thanksgiving was homemade. We did not use Stovetop stuffing and Cranberries out of a can ( though I secretly always wanted that cranberry can”loaf” with the nice can pattern on the mold when you shook it out of the can.) Turkey, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Green beans, etc. all have a lot of great nutrients in them. Its what you do to them that can make the difference between healthy and unhealthy. I personally have never understood the Green Bean casserole. As a child, the casserole looked disgusting with those weird onions on top so I never ate it. Over the years I have make some roasted Green beans or other version of Green beans.
With that being said, Thanksgiving is about Tradition. There is something soul warming about your own traditional foods that make you happy. You will make yourself more unhappy and feel deprived and cranky if you spend the day resisting foods. ENJOY the holiday. If you love that Green Bean Casserole, just go for it.
However, if you do want to improve the quality of your Thanksgiving meal here are some basic tricks that follow the same manta I am always preaching; Get out of the packages, boxes and bags. Homemade items from whole real ingredients are the key.
- Make stuffing yourself. It is more work but there are just so many good things you can put in stuffing and ways you can do it.
- Buy real Cranberries (preferably organic) making Cranberries is really so easy
- Change up the Green Beans; try roasting them in the oven with shallots tossed with a little olive oil and seasonings
- Serve some Greens: Our digestion really relies on some fiber to help all the other food digest. A salad with some Kale and spinach mixed it is a great way to give the gut something to help the other things breakdown.
- Buy healthy pre-made items to decrease the stress; I buy fresh corn bread instead of making it.
What I am serving:
- A Roasted Turkey; truly farm fresh from a local farm
- Homemade stuffing; Traditional style with cranberries, chestnuts, celery, onion, fresh herbs, etc.
- Mixed Green Salad with Homemade Cranberry Dressing
- Roasted Green Beans
- Corn Bread (this is where I cheat).
- Mashed Potatoes (for my dad and husband)
- Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Chocolate Cake (made by my mom…I had to let this one go)
What do I plan to actually eat?
Stuffing, Stuffing Stuffing! I could do without the rest. As I have transitioned to a lifestyle with less sugar and of starchy foods, I am honest to god not drawn to the potatoes, cornbread or cake… especially in the face of stuffing. My stuffing has a lot of good stuff in it; celery, carrot, onion, cranberries, chestnuts, fresh herbs, etc.I do enjoy pumpkin pie. Knowing I am making the stuffing and pie myself allows me to feel good that I am using real whole ingredients. I will eat a little turkey and a little of the cranberries.
- Eat a good breakfast with good protein and good fats; if you skip breakfast or eat a small carb heavy breakfast you will be starving and over eat the big meal. That baked brie and crackers that your best friend brought will not be calling to you to eat the whole thing if you are satisfied.
- This is hands down the best tip if you don’t want to over eat the Turkey. So many people “save up” for the big meal. Our bodies do not work that way. It’s not about Calories anymore. It’s about the quality of foods you put in. EAT BREAKFAST and lunch.
- Look for Healthy Appetizers: Cheese dips, spreads and loafs tend to be loaded with processed ingredients. A little cheese is ok but look for healthier items to satify you.
- Stop thinking about Cholesterol; Enjoy the foods you are eating. The rules on fat and cholesterol have changed. Don’t let your low-fat loving mom tell you you are eating too much fat. It’s not the turkey that is going to do you in. It’s her low fat cream cheese concoction that will.
- Listen to your body: If you are eating something that makes you feel bad or gives you indigestion, your body is telling you something. Pay attention to those cues.
- Go for simple drinks: Wine is a better choice than a cocktail made with Cranberry juice. Avoid the cocktails that use juice or sodas as their base. Water.
- Enjoy each other: Thanksgiving is about gratitude and community. Take time to do mindful breathing and take a few minutes to yourself (really!!) even if it means going in the bathroom for 5 minutes or hiding in the Laundry room. Dr. Weil has some great breathing techniques to ground you.
- Breathe: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html
And with that, Cheers!
Have a very happy Thanksgiving! I am ever so thankful this year for all my readers and supporters.