Don’t Let Thanksgiving Get the Best of You

“Don’t overdo it!”  “You will feel lousy if you drink and eat too much and will need to run a half marathon to burn off turkey dinner. It just doesn’t seem worth it.”

“Of course it’s worth it. It is only for one day, and how could I possibly resist pumpkin and apple pie, candied yams, and the cheese plate?”

Sound like the nutrition nemeses and your health angel defending opposing teams? Yah, I hear them too. Loud and clear but have decided they can get along just fine with me as referee. Here is how I make sure neither feels guilty or left out while celebrating the true meaning of Thanksgiving (giving thanks and giving…period.)  My hope is these suggestions will shield you from a raging hangover and sour stomach while still keeping you involved in all the holiday action.

1.  Give thanks for your one and only body. The past seven weeks have been devoted to slowing down and honoring your spirit and physicality and this week is no different. Take a few minutes tomorrow morning to close your eyes and visualize the day with family and friends and savoring the spread of delectable food. Picture yourself enjoying every bite and hold an image of you feeling satisfied, happy, and not overly stuffed.

2.  Remember a few weeks back when I recommended writing a gratitude list to encourage peace of mind and merrier days? Share what you are grateful for with pals at ‘Friendsgiving’ or with your family gathered around and ask others to do the same. Gratitude is what this season is all about and if you are going to indulge, balance with appreciation for access to an abundance of fresh and soulful food, being able to laugh with, and enjoy loved ones, and the freedom to take a day off.

3.  Rev your metabolism with a 15-minute HIIT session and burn fat all day! I talked about High Intensity Interval Training on week three of our communications and this is the perfect, no excuses exercise routine that can welcome your Thanksgiving day and stimulate your metabolism in the time it takes to load your hostess gifts into the car.

4.  Don’t skip breakfast to make room for cheese and crackers. Eating a hearty morning meal will keep your blood sugar in check so you can be selective about the treats you choose to eat later. There is no need to dishonor the Thanksgiving spirit by having a boring breakfast so ring in the festive spirit with a steamy bowl of Pumpkin Oatmeal.  Follow these easy instructions for a quick and nourishing bowl of goodness:

•  Prepare a bowl of steel cut or rolled oats.
•  Stir in a couple spoonfuls of pumpkin purée and ½ tsp. vanilla extract.
•  Top with raisins or dates (or chopped fresh apples or pears), crushed walnuts, a drizzle of maple syrup, and dash of nutmeg.
•  Finish your warm cereal with plant-milk such as almond or hemp.

5.  Whether you are hosting a Thanksgiving potluck or will be someone’s guest, contribute a large bowl of whole, seasonal fruits such as Asian pears, apples, persimmons, and figs and display them as a centerpiece on the grazing table. This way, when you or others feel like reaching for fatty fare, the urge can be slowed by noshing on lower calorie and fiber-rich fruit instead.

6.  Enjoy a glass (or two) of a robust red with dinner, throw back a couple of your host’s signature martinis, or slurp the spiked nog, but avoid pounding temples and brain fog on Black Friday by moderating your intake and sipping on some Tea, sparkling water, or good ‘ole H20 between cocktails.

7.  Be a conscious cook and swap nutritious ingredients like dates, stevia, or maple syrup for white sugar, and applesauce or pumpkin purée to moisten baked goodies without the use of oil and butter.  Get creative with alternatives to traditional whipped dishes and use celery root, cauliflower, or parsnips instead of potatoes and make them as creamy as mom’s recipe with olive oil and unsweetened almond milk. For a satisfying and nourishing side dish, you can’t go wrong with a colorful platter of roasted autumn roots.

To prepare:

•  Peel and cube red and golden beets, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, purple sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.
•  Add to a large bowl with halved Brussels sprouts and quartered red onions.
•  Toss with melted coconut oil, sea salt, fresh chopped tarragon, a sprinkling of ground sage, and fresh pomegranate seeds.  Pumpkin seeds or walnuts are also a nice addition.
•  Divide vegetables between two large baking sheets and spread into a single layer.
•  Roast in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until all veggies are lightly browned and tender. (Be sure to shake the sheet or flip veggies half way through for even browning.)
•  Serve in a large rustic casserole dish or bowl.

In charge of bringing an appetizer? All it takes is five minutes to make this rich and creamy Holiday Hummus Dip  that you and guests can gobble up without guilt.

8.  Plate your dinner with a healthy eye. Fill 75 percent of your dish with plant-based sides such as roasted veggies, green beans, grilled asparagus, or salad, and the remaining with a starch like roasted potatoes or wild rice stuffing, and lean meat or plant proteins such as simmered lentils with wilted kale.

Most important, be sure to Laugh, Sing, Play, and Honor the Spirit of the Day!
Happy Thanksgiving,

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