Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! There's nothing better than to see a bountiful table set out with a beautifully browned turkey, delectable sides, and seasonal fall decorations, with family mingling about (or in my case, hooking up the speakers so we can dance later on), and sharing stories. It's truly wonderful, this lovely day of feasting and family. It also happens to be the day we test the limits on how much we can stuff ourselves with tasty goodness. I've done it! More potatoes? Yes! More green bean casserole? Yes! More pie? YES!!!! With whipped cream, please.
It's not that you will actually gain weight over the course of one afternoon, but it is possible to drastically overeat, which is unhealthy in general and does some mean things to the body.
Here are some tips to avoid food coma and really enjoy the feast in a fun and healthy way:
1. Know why you're there: Food is definitely part of the equation, obviously, on Thanksgiving. But so is connecting with family. I have been at parties where people will literally hover by the buffet all night, plate in hand, food in mouth, without so much as engaging with the other guests. Make your focus the entire experience of this holiday, and not just one aspect of it, and you'll end up automatically watching your portions.
2. Eat Breakfast/Lunch the day of: Please don't starve yourself the morning of! I have DEFINITELY done this in anticipation of all that I would be consuming later on, and ended up eating bits of pie crust on my way to the party out of starvation. Once I got to the party, I really couldn't control myself and ate whatever I could get my hands on. That was really sad, because by the time desserts came out, I had stuffed myself, and then still had pie! It was bad. Getting back to my point, there's no reason to skip meals beforehand. Doing so will plummet your blood sugar and make you overeat later, particularly the bad stuff (think sugary/fatty) which the body instantly recognizes as being calorie-dense, which it's in desperate need of. Treat the day like any other and start off with a decent breakfast which will tide you over until turkey time.
3. Decide on what you want to indulge in: Also known as "Is it worth the calories?" Choose the items you really want to eat, and stay away from the ones that don't look too appetizing, or that don't taste good on first bite, or you KNOW have been deep fried twice or made with 8 pounds of butter. Case in point, I once had a gigantic slice of red velvet cake that was dry, tasteless, and just overall bad. But I ate it because it was a slice of cake and we were celebrating a birthday. Don't waste your calories on the bad stuff. Stick to the really awesome stuff! And if you want to really dig in to the triple chocolate cake, go easy on the fried appetizers or the cream-heavy casserole. Choose your indulgences wisely, and balance out the rest of your meal accordingly.
4. What your plate should look like: Very simple. Load up half of your plate on the raw, steamed, lightly sauteed veggies first, then go for the meat, starches, and other veggies (I'm talkin' about you, creamy green bean casserole with fried onions on top). And leave some negative space on the plate! Before going up for seconds, have a little conversation with someone to give your body time to see if it's still hungry. Because....
5. There will always be more later: One does not have to eat a days worth of calories in one sitting. If your family does an earlier meal, you can always eat some more a few hours later when you are hungry again.
6. Don't drink your feast: Alcohol, mulled cider, Bailey's over ice...these all have significant calories, so watch how much you drink. We don't think much about it, but we can seriously pack on some pounds with our beverages. And of course, if you are going to choose to indulge in the cocktail segment of the holiday, please give someone your keys to drive you home. Don't endanger other people or yourself by drinking and driving.
7. Dance: I am VERY serious when I say we have uncles hooking up speakers during our Thanksgiving feast in anticipation of the dancing. My family busts out some serious Bollywood after all the plates have been cleared. If it's not dancing, it's a competitive, heart-racing game of charades, where everyone is up and waving their arms around and yelling. Basically, we get moving! There's no laying on the couch for us. Digest a little, of course, but then help clear the plates, play with someone's baby, or do anything to prevent the post-feast couch potato-ness. It's just not necessary. Also it's way fun to rock it out to some dance tunes ANY day of the year!
Whatever your plans are for Thanksgiving, have a wonderful and happy, healthy holiday!