Thanksgiving is a time when family and friends come together to celebrate the good things in life. It also means lots of delicious foods and dishes, some which only make an appearance once a year. Overindulgence is not only possible, it is practically expected!
Here are some realistic tips and tricks to letting yourself enjoy the decadent dishes while remaining mindful. Overindulging (real or perceived) can lead to guilt, remorse, further overeating, and possibly some extra pounds.
The key to success is to try and find a balance. You don’t want to feel you have been denied your favorite holiday food, but you also don’t want to overeat and feel guilty (or sick).
Ideas for finding a balance include:
Choose foods you truly want and leave the rest. “Eat what you love, love what you eat!”
Eat dishes and desserts you enjoy. If you have fond memories of your grandmother’s pecan pie and there is a homemade dish available, allow yourself a small slice. Don’t waste the calories on a store-bought pie if you’re not excited about it. Choose something you will fully enjoy.
Acknowledge the holidays can be stressful.
Working around busy schedules, shopping, cooking, and social obligations can create an environment primed for overeating. Take time to engage in physical activities that you enjoy and get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation can interfere with hunger and fullness cues.
Visualize a meal where you are satisfied but not stuffed.
Prior to the meal, spend time imagining yourself enjoying your favorite foods and how good it will feel to leave the table satisfied but not overfull. Imagine how uncomfortable it feels to be stuffed. Think of some strategies that will work for you to avoid feeling that way. Think about your favorite dishes. What portion of each will satisfy your craving? Imagine taking only one homemade roll vs two.
Say “no thank you”.
It isn't your responsibility to make someone happy by overeating, even if it took hours to prepare a specialty holiday dish. You may need to say, “no thank you”, “this is delicious, but I’m full” or “I'd love to take some leftovers”.
Need ideas for healthier dishes?
Teresa Brennan, RD, CD, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician. She holds a certification in Adult Weight Management and is currently a busy mom to an 18 month old and expecting to welcome a new baby boy early 2017. Teresa is a consulting RD for FIT4MOM Redmond/Kirkland/Woodinville.