For many, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is a green light to indulge in once-a-year comfort foods. If it’s only once a year, then it’s not a big deal, right? Perhaps not, but what happens at the Thanksgiving table can set the stage for the rest of the holiday season. As much as we look forward to feasting, we certainly don’t look forward to feeling uncomfortable in our clothes and worrying about weight gain. Here’s some food for thought, if you will, to consider as we approach the holiday:
During our celebrating, keep in mind that for some it is an overwhelming and stressful experience to have such a strong focus on food during Thanksgiving. And then there are those who are dealing with other concerns, or grief and don’t look forward to the holiday and its food and celebrations. Whatever type of stress – positive or negative – that we bring to the holiday table, our eating choices are impacted as a result of our emotions. Being aware that our emotions can play a powerful role in how and what we eat allows us to make more conscientious food choices.
Although it seems like a wise idea, avoid “saving up” for the holiday meal by skipping breakfast, snacks, or lunch beforehand. Even if the big meal is at a non-meal time (2pm anyone?), try to keep to a regular schedule as much as possible. When we enter a meal overly hungry and/or deprived, it sets us up to overeat. And a Thanksgiving meal usually leaves us more than comfortably full to begin with, so preparing ourselves for success begins early in the day.
Survey all of the food choices, including appetizers and desserts before making decisions. Once you know what’s available, determine how your choices fit into your plan for the day. It may be hard to resist specialty items that only come once a year and they may or may not be worth the calories if other choices would be more satisfying. Remember that in our overabundance, there will always be more at a later time.
Pay attention to your portions, particularly if there is a large selection available. Taking a small serving of several different dishes may be the equivalent of a larger serving of only two or three dishes. Keep the size of your plate in mind, and well as how often you fill it.
Tune in to your body’s signals. If you’re beginning to feel full, put your fork down and take a break. Difficult as this may be when we sit around a table filled with food, the more we can relax and take our time, the better we can listen to our body.
Find time during the course of the day to move. What a concept! Blow off some steam, escape the family, and digest with a walk, active video games like Wii, running around with little ones, or playing games outdoors.
Focus on the meaning of the holiday beyond the food. Consider the togetherness of family and friends, traditions, and ways in which you are particularly thankful this year.
Last but certainly not least: enjoy yourself! In anticipation of the holiday, consider what elements need to be in place for you to have a peaceful and fun celebration.
Be sure to tune in next week for some ideas to put your leftovers to delicious use. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
How Stacey Got the Shot: Thanksgiving afternoon 2008, as guests were arriving. 1/40 second exposure at f/5.6, 55mm focal length, ISO 400.