Happy Thanksgiving! And so it begins, our season of holiday eating. In my mind it really began with the leftover Halloween candy. But it starts in earnest with Thanksgiving.
The next 4-5 weeks represent a challenge for my weight management clients. They are all in need of a road map to navigate the family dinners, neighborhood open houses and office parties. Plus the stress of meeting all of those expectations……
First, let’s address the concept of traditions. Many of the foods that we choose for special meals during this season are because of tradition: handed down from family, or cultural, or religion. Traditions help to form our identity and keep us connected to our communities. Rule #1 is “never mess with tradition”.
Now let’s talk about stress. We all need some stress. It’s the stimulus that gets you out of bed in the morning and nags at you until you meet your deadlines during the day. We can’t eliminate stress but we can certainly manage it by keeping our expectations reasonable, not over-scheduling our personal time, and by learning to say no and “no thank you”.
Exercise plays an important an important role in stress management. Exercise is the only way we have to dissipate stress-related hormones. Scheduling time for daily exercise not only helps to alleviate holiday stress but helps to prevent holiday weight gain.
But now, back to the eating. Social gatherings are about people and food. But how can we enjoy all of the fun if we can’t enjoy the food as well?
If we eat 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, then we will have consumed 1092 meals. Thanksgiving is just one meal.
Try this: use the salad plate instead of the dinner plate as a strategy to reduce your calorie intake. Pass up foods that you can get every day like mashed potatoes and gravy to save those calories for grandmother’s stuffing. And no seconds unless it is vegetables. Then after dinner, take a long walk instead of settling in to watch the football game on tv.
Keep our traditions; manage our stress; enjoy our food. Happy Thanksgiving!