Put Thanksgiving In Its Place

PumpkinsSquashesThanksgiving is upon us, and for many people the celebratory aspects of gathering with family and friends for a festive meal gets obscured by worries about eating “too much.” As I’ve reminded many patients in the last week or so, Thanksgiving dinner is one meal on one day (ditto for Christmas dinner, and so on). Eat it, enjoy it, then go right back to your regularly scheduled eating plan.

Yes, the typical Thanksgiving dinner is going to have more calories than an “everyday” dinner, even when no belt-loosening is needed. From my vantage point (both professional and personal), the really holiday food danger zones are “treat creep” on the actual holiday as well as in the days and weeks surrounding the holidays.

Case in point: Earlier this week my husband, Jeff, asked me what we were going to have for breakfast on Thanksgiving. I replied that we were of course going to eat breakfast (I don’t endorse a tactic of starving yourself to “save” calories for a big meal), but that I wasn’t planning anything special. While I’m fairly certain that our modern Thanksgiving feast doesn’t really resemble the original Thanksgiving meal, I’m really certain that the Pilgrims and the Native Americans didn’t start the historic day with coffee cake or French toast (they also didn’t spend the day on the couch watching football, but that’s neither here nor there).


Then, last night, Jeff graciously asked if there were any last-minute groceries I needed for my menu…or any special snacks. Again, I gently [cough] reiterated the one holiday, one holiday meal concept. I’ve experienced far too many holidays where a huge spread of snacks is laid out a few hours before the meal…then no one’s actually hungry when it’s meal time!

I feel fortunate that I don’t work in an office where everyone’s bringing in holiday goodies. I find it ironic that so many people who love to bake holiday cookies and treats don’t want to keep them in their own home (because they know they have trouble limiting themselves), so they bring them into work to tempt their coworkers, some of whom would prefer not to face temptation every time they go into the break room.

I had two pieces of Halloween candy this year, and have so far not had to face any holiday treats (not that I don’t ever have treats, but they are planned for treats, not “Oh, hey…cookies!” impulse treats).

As for the actual Thanksgiving meal, which we are having on Friday (long story), it’s just the two of us, so I’m keeping the menu small:

Stuffed Turkey Breast (from Whole Foods)

Caramelized Onion and Bacon* Gravy (new recipe from a magazine)

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon*, Balsamic and Lemon (ditto)

Tossed Green Salad

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes (recipe from the Taste of Oregon cookbook)

Mashed Potatoes (however Jeff sees fit to make them)

Cranberry Sauce (a tiny batch)

Pumpkin Pie (using the classic Libby’s recipe)

The stuffed turkey breast doesn’t contain a ton of stuffing, and I don’t do rolls at Thanksgiving. To my mind, there are already ample carbohydrates, and I’d rather have potatoes and a bit of stuffing than bread. We’ll have some leftovers, but no so much that we’re eating Thanksgiving dinner for days. The only bingeing I plan to do is binge-watching Season 3 of “House of Cards”!

* You’re probably like, “That seems like a lot of bacon,” but I assure you the amounts are small and are used as flavoring agents!

Photo of First Thanksgiving from Wikipedia Commons