What a Healthy Thanksgiving ACTUALLY Looks Like

Hard to believe Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

My Facebook news feed is full of three things right now:

  1. People complaining about the political conversations that are likely to come up at Thanksgiving dinner (ugh).
  2. Mainstream advice about how to have a “slimmed down” holiday, including things like how many minutes you need to exercise for on Friday to burn off your meal and infographics displaying the number of calories in a piece of pumpkin pie (rage).
  3. Other like-minded bloggers and online wellness coaches doing what we can to get a better message out there about what a healthy Thanksgiving actually looks like (thank God).

Thanksgiving

For my attempt at spreading a healthy Thanksgiving message this year, I’ve taken what I consider to be three ridiculous Thanksgiving concepts, and I’ve put my own #StressFreeFitness spin on them.

What a Healthy Thanksgiving Actually Looks Like

BS Thanksgiving Tip #1: Steer clear of bad foods so you can stay on track.

My #StressFreeFitness Solution: 

Don’t allow yourself to categorize any of the food on the table as either good or bad. Remember that health is not just about what you eat, but it’s also just as much about what you think and say. Instead of harping on whether something is “bad” for you, focus on:

  • Prioritizing your daily definites. These are the few effortless actions done every single day that help keep you on point with your overall wellness goals.
  • Honoring #GoPROeats. Fill the majority of your dinner plate with protein and produce first: salad, green veggies, turkey, etc. This might even be one of your daily definites anyways!
  • Practicing mindfulness. After starting off with protein and produce, assess the rest of the food and ask yourself what else you really want, if anything. Are you craving anything specific? Ask yourself why you want it, if it will actually be really delicious and worth it to you, and how you will feel after eating it. If you still want it after considering these factors, honor the craving.
  • Following the rule of first bites. If something no longer tastes as amazing as the first bite or sip does, stop eating it.

Here’s a real life example of my plate from Friendsgiving last weekend:

Friendsgiving 2016

As you can see, about half my plate is filled with salad, roasted veggies, and homemade cranberry sauce. If this were canned cranberry sauce, I would have left it behind. I took some turkey for protein and did put a little gravy on it. I skipped the roll and mashed potatoes. But I was craving stuffing, so I took a little bit and enjoyed every bite. For appetizers, I passed on the chips and dip and instead stuck to a couple of pesto filled cherry tomatoes, one taste of the mushroom crostinis, and a couple scoops of baked brie. For dessert, I had a small piece of pumpkin pie because it’s my favorite and because my bestie made it from scratch! I skipped out on the other pie and store-bought cupcakes on the table. Not restrictive, not depriving, not overdoing it. Nothing was “good” or “bad” to me. Everything was simply what I wanted mindfully in the moment.

BS Thanksgiving Tip #2: It’s only one day, so eat as much as you want!

My #StressFreeFitness Solution:

Don’t fall into a food FOMO (fear of missing out) trap. It’s really easy to convince ourselves that since the holidays only happen once a year, then we have to eat aaalll the associated holiday food because it’s what we are supposed to do, and if we don’t, we’re missing out on something. I’d argue that we can actually eat ANY food at ANY time of year should we really, really want it. For example, if I want a big plate of mashed potatoes in May, well, I can make a big plate of mashed potatoes in May. I don’t have to stuff myself silly on mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving for fear that I’ll never be able to eat mashed potatoes again. If I want to eat mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, it’s because I’ve actually gone through the steps I outlined above re: mindful eating in the moment.

Grain Free Pumpkin Bars

BS Thanksgiving Tip #3: Burn off your meal with a super hard workout! 

My #StressFreeFitness Solution:

Don’t work out on Thursday to earn your meal. Don’t work out on Friday to make up for eating dessert. Just like my gym pet peeve around Halloween is when instructors and trainers encourage “doing it for the candy,” my gym pet peeve during the holidays is when people think about their workout as either 1) justifying what they will eat later, or 2) making up for what they ate earlier. Thinking about exercise in this way, as something you must do after eating and/or celebrating a holiday, is disordered. Plain and simple. Instead of thinking about working out to negate calorie counts, prioritize movement for the sake of movement! Work out because you want to work out, because it makes you feel strong, and because you are thankful for what your body is able to do. Whether this is a quick metabolic resistance circuit in the morning or a walk with your family after dinner, move because it serves you in the moment.

Standing Cable Rows

Finally, some additional #stressfreefitness solutions to keep in mind for a healthy Thanksgiving:

>> Eat a nutritious meal ahead of time (minimize starches) so you don’t show up starving. When you show up ravenous, you are more likely to go all out and binge. Make sure to also stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking lots of water.

>> Focus on food for the right reasons: the memories it brings, the time spent preparing it with family or friends, and the time spent enjoying and savoring it with family and friends. Don’t obsess about it or villainize it. Celebrate it. Appreciate it.

>> Take some time to practice gratitude because that is what Thanksgiving is actually about, no? Remind yourself of all the things you are thankful for and more importantly, why you are thankful for them. Reach out to your family, friends, colleagues, significant others, etc. and tell them why you are grateful for them.

Thanksgiving

>> Finally, and as always, no beating yourself up if things don’t go as planned. If you end up overindulging, remind yourself that it was only one meal and avoid regret and negative self talk. What’s the point?

I hope these help put some perspective on what a healthy Thanksgiving actually means for anyone who may have been confused from any of those mainstream healthy holiday messages floating around. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. As always, I’m grateful for you. <3


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