November 27, 2013
Creating a Plan for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving feasts are just that- feasts! Tables are typically filled with festive dishes, sides, desserts and more. Sometimes we are in a place where it's easy to avoid the higher-fat, refined-grain or high-sugar foods. In which case turkey, veggies and a whole-grain side are very balanced choices. But sometimes we are in a place where it's not reasonable to avoid the Thanksgiving style foods, and that's OK, too. But the key is to stay balanced: enjoy the day and the company, enjoy the food but don't over-do it.

Here's how:

Step 1: Think about your menu.

Take a moment to think about everything, from apps & entrees, to sides, plus beverages & desserts, which will be present tomorrow.


Step 2: Choose your favorite 'carbs'.

Think about your holiday "plate" as having 1/3 filled with carbohydrate (just like your normal healthy plate would.) The holiday 'carb' options that fill this part of your plate will be anything not necessarily on-plan. Ex: stuffing, rolls, potatoes, cranberry sauce, breads, desserts or alcohol. 

Your goal for 1/3 of your plate from these starches/desserts/alcohol 'carbs' is about 300 calories from these at most. Knowing that, we can be choosy: which do we love the most? Is it stuffing and pie? Or cranberry and potatoes? Whichever they may be, picking your favorites allows you to enjoy those 300 calories and more easily say no to the extra calorie-dense foods that are just there.

Your goal for the other 2/3 of your plate: protein and veggies. If you're still hungry after the meal, feel free to reach for seconds but stick with these options for higher satiety.


Step 3: Think about what makes it easier to stay satisfied.

If you know you need at least 20 minutes to get really full after your meal, give your hands and mouth something to do: decaf coffee, herbal tea, sparkling water or the like can be enjoyable and buy you time to really gauge how hungry or full you are. They also provide you something to do while family and friends socialize near the table.

A planned walk around the block, game or other activity after the meal can also help buy you time, and drive the focus away from the food and onto the company you're surrounded by.


Step 4: Have a plan for the next day (Friday).

After you've done the above, remember that it's OK to make these food choices and it's OK to get back on track on Friday with your normal routine. Acknowledging this can help you start prepping for what to do with leftovers, what meals to have over the weekend after, etc.

Remember that it is one day: if you can give away your leftovers, plan to celebrate in non-food ways and stay active, you can 'survive.' Use your planning strategies, such as those above, to set yourself up for success in having a balanced, enjoyable day and move forward again on Friday.

Happy holidays!

Written by Erika Brown

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