I know not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving, but I am sure you can relate to family gatherings with tons of food. This is one way people get together—food. It is something we all have in common. On the downside, it can be what makes dealing with specific food allergies, food addictions, and other things so difficult to maneuver through. But that is exactly what you will be armed with by the time you are finished reading—abilities that mimic those of the BMW M6, “power and control on long straights and in tight bends” that will allow you to zoom around the obstacles, fly through narrow alleyways, and stop on a dime to pull off the healthy options without guilt or remorse.
First things first. If you eat healthily the whole year, you don't have anything to worry about when it comes to the occasional splurge at holiday time. If 90% of the time you take care of yourself, its ok to spend the remaining 10% being bad. Being bad and feeling good about it.
Here are the rules for those of you who have no restraint when it comes to the extravegance of holiday meals and desserts.
1. Eat breakfast:
I know what you are thinking when you wake up on Thanksgiving and decide, “I'm going to skip breakfast this morning. It's no big deal. In fact it is probably better because I am going to eat enough later on to feed a small family of pigs for a week.”
This thinking, though seemingly benign and frighteningly logical, is completely wrong. You need to give yourself enough fuel to make it through the morning. In the long run, you will eat less throughout the whole day. You won't be snacking and if the turkey takes that extra hour longer (as it usually does) you won't be scavenging in the kitchen for bites of this and nibbles of that. By eating breakfast, your body will have enough calories and not be starving by the time you sit down to the big feast so you can make rational decisions about how much your body can process at once.
In case you forgot. There are always leftovers. You can eat this food for days. You don't have to eat it all in one meal. You can spread out the love. So eat breakfast. And make it a good breakfast. You will be amazed at how much better your whole day will go.
2. Make yourself in charge of making a dessert or dish that will support you well:
If you have food allergies or don't eat sugar, you can make a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free dessert that is so delicious and decadant that your dessert dish will become the honorary winner of the “clean plate club.”
Which traditional dish makes you extra sleepy or extra bloaty? This is the one you can turn into a healthy (and more delicious) alternative.
A note to the skeptics. I know you out there who hate the word “alternative” when it comes to food. You want the “real thing.” Well, what you consider the “real thing” is usually made with trans fats, crappy preservatives, flavors or colorings (time to download that top 5 things to avoid list and put it in your wallet). You call that cranberry jelly crap that comes out of the cans, “real”? I know some of you out there love this stuff and can't imagine a real Thanksgiving without it.
Create a fabulous dessert that will satisfy you and keep you from feeling left out. My recommendation: raw chocolate truffles (I can make them in 15 minutes with raw cacao beans and agave syrup. Call me if you want to know more about these options! And agave is low glycemic, so people who are sensitive to sugar can eat it with much better results. (Some diabetics even find it ok.)
My other recommendation: Angela Grace (aka “Gelatina”) Kanevski's famous coconut milk pumpkin pie.
1/2 medium sized pumpkin
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup agave
3-4 TBSP pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon)
gluten-free pie crust using Pamela's or GF mix with Earth Balance or ghee
(all measurements subject to adjustment based on the amount of pumpkin you use.)
Bake the crust for 1/2 hour. Once you add the filling, bake at about 350-400 degrees until it doesn't jiggle.
I always make gluten free stuffing and gravy. Over the years I have perfected the recipes. They are delicious!
3. Your energy levels will be so much higher when you eat easier to digest foods:
rice flour instead of wheat flour
agave instead of sugar
coconut milk instead of dairy
4. If you want to get really serious, consider food combining rules or eat in the proper order:
* eat fruit and sweets alone or at the end of the meal in small amounts. You can also wait for a while before eating the cranberry sauce and dessert.
* Eat protein and starches separately for better digestion and energy.
Eat the protein and salty foods first, eat starches second, then veggies.
* Don't eat too many types of protein at once. Pick one or two and stick with that.
5. Practice Intuitive Eating:
Really check in with your body. Stop when you are full. Eat only the foods that sound good to your belly and your body. Ignore your noisy mind with all its opinions and ideas about what you “should” be eating.
6. Chew. Chew. Chew.
I know. It's basic. But is it by far the most effective technique I have listed here and if you utilize it to its full potential you will be amazed at how much easier it is to listen to your body. I promise, I will be chewing on Thanksgiving.
7. Slow down.
Enjoy the meal. Savor it. Talk. Laugh. Enjoy the company of those around you. Besides, hanging out and getting close to those around is the point!