Thanksgiving Food, Family, Friends-with a Side of Gratitude
Thanksgiving is, hands-down, my favorite holiday. For me, it’s all about loved ones around the table, good feelings, good conversation and of course, delicious, healthy food. Most of all though, Thanksgiving is about gratitude and of truly appreciating the special moments throughout the day that shape our memories. like the scent of roasting turkey wafting through the house. The Thanksgiving Day parade on TV. The arrival of family and friends. Sitting down to the meal. Saying grace and giving thanks to the food and the farmers, the universe and the higher power that’s brought us all together.
For those who struggle with weight, gluten or sugar, this time of year can be a challenge, but a bit less of one when experienced through the lens of gratitude. When I speak with patients who are nervous or disheartened about staying on track during the holiday, I feel their pain, as I too share some of those struggles. I have found however, that it’s possible to thrive through it, by shifting your mindset to one of gratitude. Instead of getting bogged down with guilt or fear, I ask patients to focus on the can’s rather than the cannot’s. To savor the food, not try to find solace in it. To enjoy, not gorge. And after the meal is done, re-energize with a simple, healthy, restorative walk around the neighborhood, to prime yourself for the return to a ‘normal’ health-supportive diet the next day.
Sure, there will be a number of items that may be off-limits, and maybe you’ll indulge a little, but if you do so with gratitude, thanking your food (silently) as you go along. Pausing briefly to give thanks throughout the meal will naturally slow the process down and give your satiety hormones time to send the signals to your brain and belly that its time to taper off. In addition to eating with gratitude, here are a few more ways to help you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal guilt-free:
· If you’re a guest, don’t arrive at the host’s house ravenous. Before you head out, curb appetite with at least 12 ounces of water plus a light, healthy snack. A piece of fruit or tablespoon of nut butter should do the trick.
· Keep your water glass topped up, particularly if you’re drinking alcohol. Sip your wine slowly, and drink more water than wine to tamp down wine’s appetite-stimulating effects.
· The more veggies on your plate the better, particularly if they’re simply prepared. If most of the sides are covered in cheese, marshmallows, cream sauces or troublesome sauces, then add more turkey to your plate and go light on the sides.
· Remember, the meal is more than just a food orgy, it’s also a social occasion, so take time to chat. Eat slowly, breathe slowly and rest your fork between bites. There’s absolutely no need to rush.
One last thought: keep in mind that those sharing the meal with you may change over time, so cherish the people at the table with you. One of my most beautiful Thanksgiving’s ever was many years ago, as my amazing mom was losing her battle with ALS. That Thanksgiving, despite her illness, we were all gathered around the table with her, talking, laughing and eating as if everything was fine and perfectly normal. And in so many ways, it was – and for that, I am forever grateful.
Have a wonderful, warm and gratitude-filled holiday.