T-Day Survival Tips, Part 2

In Part One, I gave some (slightly) advance prep tips for getting into a healthy, moderate mindset. Here my last minute pep talk to help you really enjoy tomorrow’s feast without feeling like you need to fast for a week afterwards.

Eat slowly. Don’t shovel. If ever there was a time to put down your fork between bites and enjoy some conversation with your meal, this is it. Since it takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to register fullness (yes, I know you know this), eating slowly will help you avoid that busting-out-of-your-pants feeling. Who really enjoys feeling like that? No one. When you eat slowly and pay attention to what you are eating, you will feel satisfied without taking in supersize portions. You may even truly have room in your stomach for dessert, instead of just shoehorning it in.

Don’t really like it? Then don’t eat it. I don’t understand why so many people take “some of everything” even when they don’t like some of the foods being offered. Focus on the things you really enjoy, and don’t waste calories on the others. (No, this doesn’t mean claiming an entire pumpkin pie for yourself.) This will also help you feel happy and satisfied, without overeating. This is an area where it is helpful to have a plan for dealing with food pushers. (“Oh, Aunt Sally, I already had some of your Jello-giblet salad. It was the first thing I ate!”)

Don’t roll with it. One pet peeve of mine is the plain dinner roll. Many people serve these, and they are usually some of the most boring specimens of the bread kingdom that I’ve ever seen. Nothing more than something to put butter on, really. Speaking of really, do you really need to eat a roll when you are in the presence of much more delicious starches? (Stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and dessert, I’m talking about you.) If you are eating for reasons other than nutrition and true hunger, please make sure that whatever you’re putting in your mouth is at least really, really worth it.

Redefine waste. Stuck with more leftovers than expected (either because they were pawned off on you, or you couldn’t pawn them off on other people)? You don’t have to eat them all. Seriously. Yes, some of the joy of Thanksgiving is in the leftovers (often because you can enjoy them without just having completed a cooking marathon), but how many days in a row do you really need to be eating stuffing? Set a time limit, then get out the food waste container. I usually set a two day limit for everything but the actual leftover turkey. As I always say, better for extra food to go to waste than to go to your waist.

Practice moderation, young Jedi. Do I love leftover stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie? Yes I do! But when it comes time to trot them out, I take small portions and eat them with a salad and a hearty portion of cooked veggies. This mirrors my usual non-holiday practice of making low-calorie vegetables the largest part of the meal, and the calorie-dense starches and proteins the smallest part.

Move. You can’t “burn off” Thanksgiving dinner with exercise, so don’t try. (At least not in one or two sessions.) But now is not the time to skip physical activity, either. Eating excess calories becomes more excessive if you aren’t burning any off with activity. Whether you’re playing catch or going for a walk with family on the big day, or simply sticking to your normal exercise routine (gym or otherwise), you’ll feel better and be healthier for it.

That’s about it. Have a lovely, delicious and safe Thanksgiving! And if you must fight over the drumstick, no hair-pulling!