Ahh, turkey, sweet potatoes, pies, and cookies…oh my! Okay, that’s a bit corny, especially coming from me, but those are some of the foods you can expect to see during Thanksgiving dinner this year. Eating around the holidays is a source of camaraderie and good times for many people, but also a source of stress for others. If you’re trying to lose weight, trying to maintain your physique, or targeting fitness goals, it may seem like the food on the Thanksgiving table is off limits, but that is not the truth. You can eat the food in front of you, but you need to keep a few things in mind.
The most important thing for you to focus on during the holiday eating season is mindfulness. In this context, we mean be aware of the food you put in your mouth. That may seem like a simple point to make, but many people struggle in this area. Have you ever found yourself mindlessly taking repeated chips from the bag while watching a movie, snacking on the items in the snack tray while talking to someone, or otherwise eating without really being aware of what you’re eating? Of course you have! We all have! The goal then is to be aware of what you are eating and to take control of the same. There are many ways to do this, so I cannot offer an exhaustive list but rather can provide a few examples.
Considering the chip example, instead of leaving the bag in front of you, take a portion of chips, place it in a bowl, and take that with you, leaving the bag in the kitchen cabinet. This can help make you more conscious of what you eat, since you will have to take notice you are out of chips, go to the cabinet, and consciously pull more chips out of the bag.
About the snack tray example, the solution here is do not linger where the food is. The longer you linger close to the food, the more likely you are to eat something. Take your conversations somewhere else.
The next two items fall under mindful eating, since if you are not mindful, then you will not be aware of the next two:
- Portion control—it goes without saying: the more you eat the more likely you are to gain weight, negatively affect your physique, or fuel your body with the wrong fuel or too much of the right fuel (you only need so much fuel at one time). That turkey in front of you—do not take the whole drumstick, just have a slice or two. Those mashed potatoes—you probably do not need three servings. That pie—maybe stick to one slice, two if you are jacked.
- Balancing food consumption—do not just go for the “bad” stuff; be sure to have some of the good stuff as well. Have that piece of pie or those cheesy potatoes, but make sure to have some lean turkey or ham as well as some vegetables or fruit. Holiday eating should be enjoyable but also be balanced. At the same time, be mindful of the extra things you add, such as butter, gravy, dressing, hollandaise sauce.
It’s okay to enjoy food
Eat! It’s okay. But eat mindfully. You can have that pie, you can have that butter, you can have those cookies, and you can have that extra serving of your favorite Thanksgiving food; just do not overdo it. Be mindful of your eating and practice portion control as well as balancing food consumption.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.