Thanksgiving: A Feast or Meal


Thanksgiving time creates thoughts of family, friends and plenty of irresistible foods.  Boundless temptations can make it challenging to stay with healthy choices. Yet, Thanksgiving can support your best goals once you start thinking of it as a “meal” rather than as a “feast.”  

Arrive Moderately Hungry
Strive to avoid over-hunger in preparation for this meal.  Eat normally earlier in the day and arrive at the Thanksgiving event reasonably hungry.  If you’re not famished, you can think more clearly, select your food more wisely and eat slower. 
Reframe Your Thoughts
Think of Thanksgiving as a “meal” not a “feast”.  Visualize deriving pleasure from the quality rather than the quantity of the food.  Pace yourself, eat slowly and savor each bite.  Strive to eat calmly to the point of comfortable fullness.  Save room for a sampling of your favorite dessert.
Remind yourself that you don’t have to overindulge on Thanksgiving.  You can arrange to have Thanksgiving themed foods for the next several days.

Exercise First
A refreshing exercise session may help compensate for any excess calories eaten at dinner.  Depending on your effort, 30-60 minutes of strong exercise could burn 150-300 or more calories.
Social Strategies
Surround yourself with family and friends who are supportive of your positive nutrition and lifestyle choices.  Connect with them throughout the event.  Temper your involvement with those who make it harder for you to take care of yourself and your personal goals. Instead of rushing through dinner, take time to talk, reflect, and delight in the company of others.  Eating slowly gives your body time to register fullness (usually 15-20 minutes).
Drink to Fullness
Before the meal begins, drink 8-12 ounces of water.  This will help fill any void in your stomach and put a dent in your hunger.  It will also provide faster fullness, satisfaction and can make it easier to curb your total intake.
Smaller Plates
Our brains tend to register a “full plate” as being equally satisfying, whether the plate is large or small. This Thanksgiving, try to use a smaller dinner plate of 8-10” diameter to avoid overconsumption. 
Be Selective
Before your dinner plate is in your hands, survey the entire table of options.  Identify which healthy foods will occupy most of your plate including plenty of veggies and turkey breast.  Be discriminating about which high calorie foods you might serve yourself.  Select only little “samples” of indulgences.  This way, you’ll feel less deprived but also victorious knowing that you’ve made wiser choices overall.
Eat Your Courses in Order
Eat your salad and/or veggies first, followed by your protein, then starch, and end with only a small bit of dessert.  Filling up on healthier options first may minimize your need for rich, heavy foods.  Before dessert begins, recognize that you’re no longer physically hungry.  Use that awareness to guide you toward savoring only a sampler of your favorite dessert.
Above all, celebrate and delight in the true spirit of this holiday.   Be thankful for the big and little things bringing you joy this season.   Approaching this meal with a positive perspective using the techniques listed above, can translate into healthier choices … another thing for which to be thankful.