Most people have a love/hate relationship with Thanksgiving. It is wonderful being with family and friends, enjoying a long, relaxing weekend and being able to take a break from the daily stresses of your life. On the other hand, those stresses can be replaced with new ones: Being with family, trying to be a perfect hostess/host and wondering how you are going to stick to your diet on a day that is all about eating.
Thanksgiving is basically a great excuse to use for overeaters to, well, overeat! This holiday is the ultimate test for a foodaholic. Tables laden with traditional feasts that include stuffing and potatoes and casseroles and mac n cheese and pies galore!
But just because the rest of America is gorging doesn’t mean you have to as well. Know this — it’s OK not to gorge yourself on Thanksgiving. There is no hard and fast rule that you must be a glutton for the day. This might be a perfect time to make a new Thanksgiving tradition; eat less and enjoy the day more.
Here are some tips to help:
• Feast on family and friends, not on food. There is so much to enjoy at a get-together that isn’t about the food. In our busy lives how often do we actually have the opportunity to spend concentrated time with people we care about? Celebrate the occasion by connecting with loved ones at the table rather then binging.
• Remember Thanksgiving is still just a Thursday. So much energy is placed on this big day and all that comes with it: The planning, the meal, the guest list, the tradition. Getting through the “big day” without gaining the extra pounds is a national topic of conversation. Perhaps we should view the “big day” as just another Thursday. Thursday seems much easier to cope with then the “big day.”
• Fail to plan, plan to fail. Most of us are exposed to large festive meals with more options then we are used to. If you are committed to not putting on the pounds, have a plan. Have a sense of what items you will eat and how much you will have. You may want to use the one plate rule to help with portion control. Perhaps you will sample everything in small amounts. Regardless of your specific menu, planning is always better then winging it.
• Don’t face the challenge alone. Bookend with a friend. Tell someone you can be honest with before the meal what you will eat or won’t eat and call them after the meal to let them know about your success. Commitments take on a new meaning when they are shared with others and not just with ourselves.
• Remember your last food hangover. Take yourself back to your last binge: The fatigue, the guilt, the pain and bring that memory to the table. Do you really want to wake up the next morning feeling stuffed with aches and stomach cramps. How many Tums did you need last year? Can you recall those pants feeling that much tighter the day after? Remember the regret you had and asking yourself why you ate this or that? Think it through and maybe your last hangover memory will help you stay healthy and balanced through the meal.
• Ask yourself what a “reasonable” person who you truly respect would say about your food choices. Remember the key word is what is “reasonable.” I sometimes say to people if 100 of the best doctors saw your plate what would they say — reasonable or not reasonable? Picture your plate filled with food items and imagine a team of experts surveying your choices. Imagine how good it feels to know your choices would be endorsed as healthy by the experts.
• Honor and respect your triggers. If you lost the battle with the pumpkin pie last year why would you go in the rink with it again this year? If you know you struggle with the dessert year after year don’t take it on. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
• Sometimes Disneyland is not the happiest place on Earth and neither is the Thanksgiving table. The table may be filled with family who you may not be thrilled to break bread with. Have a plan for coping with your family, especially the difficult members. Try to get yourself seated next to a family member who you enjoy hanging out with. If you are disappointed with the adults, perhaps you want to sit with the kids. If you find yourself stuck with no out and are seated in what feels like hostile territory, my suggestion is to ask people around you about themselves. People love to share about themselves, especially if they have an audience.
• Take care of yourself. Know you’re not being weird if you call your host to ask ahead of time what is being served. If you are serious and committed about keeping it healthy, there is no harm or insult in getting a sneak preview of the menu.
For more information on Dr. Silberstein, check out www.sourceforhelp.com