Thanksgiving is just a few short days away. That means now is the time for us to decide how we’re going to spend the day. Are we going to feel anxious and stressed about our food choices? Are we going to over-indulge and feel bad about what we ate – walking away from the table feeling tired, sluggish and frustrated with ourselves? Are we going to deprive ourselves, relying on willpower all day, and end up feeling frustrated and discouraged that we can’t enjoy our life and our health?
The answer should be none of the above! Thanksgiving is a day to practice gratitude, exercise our thankful muscles and enjoy our family, our friends AND our food. Because life is about balance and the truth is – with a little thoughtfulness – we can absolutely enjoy our life, our food AND our health! In fact, I’d argue total health and wellness will escape us until we learn to really enjoy our life and our food.
So, here are my top 6 tips for making it a healthy, happy Thanksgiving filled with food, fun, gratitude and zero guilt or deprivation.
- Fix your favorite recipes so you can enjoy delicious, holiday favorites without all the sugar, inflammation, and digestive upset. Just because you’ve always made something a certain way doesn’t mean you won’t love a cleaned up, healthier version. You don’t have to makeover every holiday recipe, but make sure there are some healthy options on the table and at least a few vegetable centered sides. If you need ideas, recipes, inspiration or even video tutorials, we have a Thanksgiving menu of Fix Approved holiday recipes ready and waiting for you. Log into your Beachbody On Demand account and check it out. If you don’t have access to Beachbody on Demand you can sign up here.
- Be mindful of your portions. Lead with protein and vegetables and then have a small sampling of the carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls and stuffing) and desserts. Think about which foods you really want to enjoy from your Thanksgiving table and make sure you get a small taste of those, but don’t overdo it. If there are several desserts you just have to try, choose to have a small piece of each instead of a full serving.
- Practice slow, mindful eating. As a mom, I’m guilty of rushing through my meals. I’m busy and I often have to remind myself to slow down and really enjoy and experience my meals. This is an especially important practice for a holiday meal. You’ll enjoy it more and get more out of every bit if you slow down. Sit, talk, eat and truly give yourself time to experience the foods and flavors on your plate. Chew your food longer and give yourself time to digest. You don’t have to have it all once. Put some space between dinner and dessert and don’t go back for seconds until you’ve really given your food at least 30 minutes to settle so you brain can get the message that your full and satisfied.
- Remember that the meal is just part of the day. There is so much more to Thanksgiving than the food we eat. Focus on the people you are spending time with and the many traditions that often come with the day. Whether it’s watching the parade, football, planning your Black Friday shopping excursion or just laughing and reminiscing with family and friends, all of those pieces are memories that will last, experiences that will make the day and that you will talk about at future Thanksgiving dinners. The food…it’s just one piece and it doesn’t have to be the centerpiece.
- Don’t forget to practice gratitude. Somedays this needs to be a moment to moment practice. Let’s face it. As much as we might love the holidays, they can often be stressful and come with a lot of expectations and outside opinions. We can get caught up in trying to make things perfect – trying to please everyone. But we all know it’s impossible to please everyone and perfection doesn’t exist. So practice gratitude moment to moment. Every time you start to focus on what’s going wrong or what you don’t have, stop, take a breath and think of something you have to be grateful for. Take a moment to mentally smile and be thankful for those things. It will make all the difference in your attitude and your stress level for the day.
- Don’t skip your workout. You might think that you’re too busy or you your family needs you and you can’t take 30 minutes for your workout because that would be selfish. But you can and you should. It will give you a moment of space…just 2% of your day…to focus on you, your goals, your health and your needs. It will energize you. It will boost your positive endorphins. It will rev up your metabolism and it will reduce your stress. Set a positive example for everyone around you and choose to take care of yourself mentally and physically by getting your workout in. And maybe invite some of your family to join you!
- Remember, in the end, it’s one day. Whatever happens, at the end of the day, let it go. You’ll wake up on Friday and it will be a new day and a new opportunity to make healthy choices, choose joy, practice gratitude and live your healthiest life. Don’t let anything that happens on Thursday dictate how you feel about yourself or the positive choices you have the opportunity to make on Friday.
I hope your holiday is full of things to be grateful for. If you look for them, I’m confident you will find them.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!