Have a guilt-free Thanksgiving Feast

So everyone who knows me, knows that I am not going to tell you that you need to cut out butter, trans fats, dairy, or anything that makes food taste decadent and delicious.  I suppose, if I was Super Nurse Bridgid, I might, but I’m a very realistic gal, I love food, and I think that there are very few times a year that you totally rock out with eating decadent food, having your family and friends at your side, so live it up! That being said, if you have severe cardiac disease, diabetes, congestive heart failure, or a few other chronic diseases, let’s not go completely bonkers and send yourself into distress requiring an emergency room visit, please? There are a few ways to keep the holiday fun, and keep/maintain you weight loss goals that you have in mind….because no matter how much you think that you will be maintaining your diet, you won’t. I am not just being negative, but friends and relatives will make dishes that you have no idea how much butter (or even straight up lard) was used to make that delicious crust, or how much extra cheese was added to dishes.  Unless you have a very health conscious family or group of friends, most likely your Thanksgiving meals will have some unexpected fat and calories added….but it’s one day a year, right?

How to I stay healthy and fit?

Remember it is just one meal: it may be a really yummy and highly commercialized meal, but it is just one meal, so don’t eat the same amount that you would in a week!  Keep your head about you, and eat normal servings. There is no need to fill your plate until the point that it is over-flowing with food. There will be leftovers, so grab some of them, and have some of that meal the next day too….that would make it better than eating to the point you feel like you will explode, right?

Fill your exercise bank: I hear all the time when people eat some decadent dessert or huge meal, that they will “run 10 miles tomorrow”.  Most likely you won’t.  I’m not being mean, but most people say that and then they don’t and then they have food guilt.  What do I do?  I know that I will be eating more, so before my body is slow and laden down from extra fat and alcohol in my diet (from a fun family meal), I have a long workout.  I also tend to keep in mind all week with my workouts that I will be having a huge “cheat day” from my normal diet.  That way, I have already done the hard work, and I can eat with pure pleasure and no guilt!

Don’t starve! One thing people do frequently is that they know they are going to eat a big meal, so they don’t eat all day.  BAD move!! Then you are starving, so when you finally see appetizers and the meal, you will for sure overindulge! Eat a breakfast high in fiber and protein (after you get in that workout, of course, right?!?!) It will keep you filled up and regulate your blood sugar so your body feels satiated, and you have a better chance of just eating normally….not until you think you will explode if you don’t unbutton your pants.

Take a walk post meal: Because of the tryptophan in turkey (along with the traveling and stress of planning/cooking for holidays) and all of our blood rushing to our stomachs to help digest that huge meal, we finish our meal, and people want to hang out and watch football, relax, nap, etc.  My suggestion? Go out and walk for 30 minutes.  Get your blood pumping, help digest faster, ramp up your metabolism, and then tackle those dishes.  Depending on the number of dishes and how vigorous you are, you can burn up to 100 calories in 1 hour of dish washing….it’s a start!

If you really are concerned: if you really are worried about eating too much, go slow.  Take small helpings, small enough that nothing on your plate touches (and if you can handle the ridicule, just use a salad plate- it gives the illusion or more food!) and eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes from the time food hits your lips and gets into your stomach for your brain to get the memo that you are satiated and don’t need to eat any more (that’s why starving yourself can really backfire on you- you eat like a glutton for 20 minutes then want to die from feeling so stuffed.) And drink lots of water, along with the fiber in all of the veggies, and the protein it will help to fill you up faster.

Alcohol can be a caloric nightmare: Not all alcohol, but wine is usually around 200 calories per glass, so if you have a few of those, you’ve just taken in all of your days calories almost, just on drinks alone! so for those of you really, looking to keep it “skinny” this year, I wouldn’t jump towards the wine, or keep it to 1 to 2 glasses.

Ditch the guilt: All this being said, don’t feel guilty about having a good time, giving thanks for all of the wonderful things we have in our lives, being with friends and family, and eating good food.  THAT is what Thanksgiving is about, not your caloric intake!  Everyone is allowed a “cheat day” and on Thanksgiving, you just really live it up!

Really?  Have a great day, enjoy yourself, and appreciate your life, your friends and family, and have an awesome day.  Don’t focus on the calories or feel guilty for having a good time, just get back right on track the next day….as long as this is a once in a while thing for you, your body will bounce back! Don’t et one day let you lose focus on being healthy and fit, but as I said, ramp up your exercise before, if you are really concerned, have that fitness bank filled, and make a withdrawal on Thanksgiving!  Enjoy your days, be safe, and have an amazing time.

For all of the healthcare, emergency service workers, military, and everyone else that is working through the holiday to help others, thank you for all that you are doing; your hard work and sacrifice is greatly appreciated!!

Yours in Good Health