Thanksgiving is by far one of my favorite holidays. I love the whole idea of setting aside a special day to celebrate our bountiful blessings with family and friends. And of course, you can’t talk about Thanksgiving without mentioning all the yummy foods that go with it. It seems appropriate to kick off the Holiday Food Survival Guide with a post on “How To Approach The Loaded Holiday Table.”
My family has certain dishes that they expect to see on the Thanksgiving table, so the holiday also brings a good bit of nostalgia with it as well. Sometimes biting into that old family recipe will just bring memories flooding to the surface.
There is one essential factor that I want to establish at the very beginning of the series, Holiday Food Survival Guide, and that is, food is a great thing! We love food because it is a sensory experience that puts us in touch with our culture and our past. Food is a vital part of the human experience.
Too many times we want to demonize food and blame it for all our weight problems. However, I want to say this loud and clear, “Food does not make you eat it!” For years I lived with this mentality. I was convinced that I had no control over food; especially during the holidays.
If you want to make it through the next six weeks without gaining weight, then you need to start by taking responsibility for your food choices. You choose the foods you put in your mouth, the food doesn’t choose you.
Now, having said that, I should mention a few things about my food mindset.
Am I saying that my way is the best way…no! The internet offers a vast array of healthy diet plans and nutritional options, which I cannot begin to compete with, nor would I try. If I could be satisfied with eating only the right foods needed to fuel my body, then I would never have gained the kind of experience I have on my weight journey.
Instead, I had to find a way to keep my weight in check and still enjoy the foods that I like. In the end, I found out it’s all about balance. If any of you have read my earlier posts on weight, then you already know that successfully navigating our relationship with food requires that we engage our minds.
Many of us are guilty of this. In anticipation of a big meal, we often skimp on meals earlier in the day as a way to “save our calories” for the fun food. However, this typically means that we are starving by the time we hit the holiday spread.
It’s much better to eat normally prior to a special meal. That way your mind will be making the choices when it comes to the richer holiday foods, instead of your screaming stomach.
Remember, the meal is the star of the show, so the appetizers are just previews for the main attraction. If there are nuts available, satisfy yourself with a handful of them.
Remember, the food does not control you. First, size up the food to see what it available. Determine which items are must haves and which items you can pass on. Just because the food is there doesn’t mean you have to eat it.
Our eyes are often much bigger than our stomachs when we first go through the line; not to mention that the variety is often endless when it comes to holiday spreads. If you have already looked the table over, then you already have a good idea of what you want to eat. Plan to serve yourself only 1/3 of the amount you think you want.
Generally, a 1/3 size serving will not be more than 2″ in diameter. The one exception will be the protein; especially if it’s baked turkey. The lean breast of a baked turkey is a delicacy you can afford to eat more of.
Gravies and rich sauces add a lot of extra fat and calories. Spoon a small pool of gravy beside your food instead of on top. You can still get the taste by dipping the edge of your meat or mashed potatoes into the gravy instead of pouring it all over your food.
Do you need more food? If so, narrow done your return trip to 2 food items, then only serve yourself a 1/3 sized serving.
Wait at least an hour after the meal to eat dessert. This allows your stomach to register fullness from the main meal. When you do eat dessert, use the same rules as you did with the main meal; except, seconds are not an option when it comes to sweets because they have no nutritional value.
I hope these tips help you to approach the loaded holiday table! Let me know how things go for your Thanksgiving meal. Why don’t you head over to read my second tip: Everyday Can’t Be A Party.
I actually learned to make these kinds of choices when I decided to get off of the weight roller coaster two years ago. After years of yo-yo dieting I started a process of journaling to uncover my expectations, assumptions and flawed thinking about food. For years I felt helpless and hopeless against the lure of food…basically, I was acting on my beliefs. Maybe you’ve also wondered why you can’t seem to resist food. If so, I’ve written a book to help others work through the same process as I did…what do you have to lose, but the weight that has frustrated you for years.