Thanksgiving and other holidays are supposed to be happy days, spent with family and or friends, where we come together and ENJOY our favorite holiday foods.
It should NOT be a day where we demonize food or feel like we need to EARN food or work off food. Don’t get me started on those posts about “It takes X amount of burpees to burn off a piece of pumpkin pie” – stop it. Enjoy the pie.
On the flip side, if you have been working at creating consistency and positive, healthy eating habits, it should also not be seen as a day to completely forgot about everything you have been working on and just pig out to the point of feeling sick or so bloated that you look like a tick ready to pop.
We need to get away from this “all or nothing” mentality.
Thanksgiving can easily be enjoyed without stressing about our diet, or the scale.
Here are some simple things to keep in mind when it comes to ENJOYING Thanksgiving responsibly.
1) It is ONE day. Enjoy that ONE day.
There are 30 days in November and 31 days in December. Let’s assume you eat 3 meals a day. That makes 183 meals for the two months.
Let’s assume there are 3-4 meals of pure holiday joy during the two months. Enjoy them – and put your focus on the other 179 meals.
Where people tend to get into trouble is when they start celebrating the feast at the start of the week because “who cares, I will be pigging out on Thursday, so why not just start now?”
Or allowing the feasting to continue past Friday (because leftovers happen) and the rest of the weekend.
This is the mindset that can easily snowball back into old habits that you have worked hard to break. Leading up to Thursday, you should continue your week as you normally would. Eat responsibly, eat when physically hungry, get your workouts in, and maintain a slight caloric deficit (assuming your current goal is fat loss). Simple – IF you have been working on these habits up until now.
Give yourself a day, but nothing extra before or after. It is ONE day out of 365.
Another way to look at it is from a month-to-month perspective – what days do you want to freely enjoy, no plan, just mindfulness, and maybe a little more control than you normally would have on special occasions? Put a red X on those days… and then crush the rest of the month – 28 days of 30 is pretty damn good!
2) Enjoy Your Favorite Foods – responsibly
I use this with my clients all the time. Do you enjoy (insert favorite holiday food here)? Then eat one serving/slice/portion/scoop/etc – not the entire thing.
Yes, it can even be a super rich, sugary, fatty dessert. One piece will not destroy all of your progress and ruin everything. However, if you know you have certain trigger foods, you may take some extra precautions before indulging. Plan to have just the ONE piece – and move on.
The truth is, food does not carry morals, nor does eating a certain food make YOU a bad person. It is food – that is all. But – don’t waste your valuable stomach space on standard foods that you have access to every day. If someone brings out the bag or chips, stay away – and tell them to get more creative.
Thou Shall Not allow guilt to be felt on Thanksgiving Day!
Enjoy it, clean up your dishes as your mother taught you, and move on back to your regularly scheduled life.
3) Plan Accordingly on the Day Of
If you are like me you KNOW that you will go a little crazy with the food choices at the feast. These are probably foods you don’t regularly eat, so why not?
This being said, if you normally eat an early Thanksgiving dinner, then maybe have a lighter, high protein breakfast, or pass on lunch – knowing all too well that you will definitely get those calories in later.
Focus on protein and veggies early in the day, saving all those rich, carb and fat-filled foods for later.
Even if you have the best of intentions and you do overeat, oh well. It’s OKAY!
Side note: I know I said you don’t need to feel like you need to earn your food, however if you want to make the most of it, hit a nice heavy-weight training session the morning of the feast, or the morning after – this will at least let the extra calories go more towards building muscle!
The Bigger Picture:
Holidays are supposed to be enjoyable times. When you create a healthy relationship with food, you don’t worry about holidays because you know they are only a small fraction of the entire year – and there are bigger habits that matter.
When you have an unhealthy relationship with food, you stress and worry about the holidays, but often ignore all the other moments that you mindlessly snack, overeat, and all the moments that you eat without even being hungry.
One final thought – since 90% of people are trying to lose fat – take the stress of fat loss off during the holiday months. Yes, you can do it, but I like using this time for revamping your metabolism and building some muscle. Focus on getting stronger, improving sleep, and maintaining that number on the scale and you come out with a massive win into the New Year!
The moral of the story here is short and sweet – enjoy the holiday, enjoy your family, enjoy the food, and get right back to it Friday morning and through the rest of the weekend -and all will be good – I promise!
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