This time of year, most of my clients start panicking about the inevitable onslaught of travel, pies, and family stress that can be associated with Thanksgiving. Well I say, screw that! This year, how about we all take some key, powerful steps towards not letting this super fun, gratitude-filled holiday derail us in any way! Giving in to the assumption that the next month is just going to be a landslide of undoing all the amazing things you’ve been doing for your body this fall is just plain silly, and that frame of mind sets you up for failure. Remember, you are in total control of all your actions: what you do and do not eat, how you take care of your body, how you interact with loved ones, and how you let things affect you. So with that in mind, I give you my 8 tips for conquering Thanksgiving, and having a healthy, fun, and fabulous holiday!
1. Travel smart
If you’re heading out of town for the holiday, your travel day sets the tone for the rest of your trip. If you’re frazzled, rushing, stressed, and starving, you can imagine what kind of precedent that sets for your Thanksgiving! This year, make sure to eat a good breakfast before your flight, and pack healthy snacks like kale chips, nuts, and super hydrating coconut water. Get to the airport 1.5 hours before your flight, so you have plenty of time to get where you need to be. Pick up a little comfy travel kit with a blanket, eye mask, ear plugs, and inflatable neck pillow. And make sure you have some fun reading material to keep you company! If your flight is during a mealtime, pick up food at the airport before you board (don’t rely on any of the dubious selections provided on the plane!) — sushi; a Mediterranean platter with hummus, pita and veggies; or a big salad with protein are all great options that you can find at the airport. And, of course, make sure you have a water bottle for the flight! After your flight, buy the biggest bottle of water you can find and drink the whole thing within an hour. Air travel is super dehydrating, which can set you up for all kinds of cravings and poor food choices throughout your trip.
2. Pack portable workouts
This year, don’t just give up on your whole exercise routine for the holidays. That is a surefire way to feel crappy about yourself and put on extra holiday weight. No need, my beauties! Bring your iPad and bookmark some quick, easy YouTube workouts you can do absolutely anywhere. Even just 15 minutes of moving your body will make a big difference and keep you from feeling like a Thanksgiving sloth! If you know that yoga is a sanity booster for you, scout out some local studios and bring your mom or siblings along for a family class! If an actual workout seems totally overwhelming, don’t stress! A nice long walk in the brusque fall air, a game of touch football with the family, or even just chasing after your nieces and nephews totally counts!
3. Bring the comforts of home
We all have our little creature comforts that keep us sane, and in the face of in-laws, a strange bed, and screaming cousins, these may mean the difference between a calm, happy, you and a stress-basket. Pack a good book, your journal, a meditation cd, your favorite pj’s, even an aromatherapy candle or oil that helps you relax.
I love Aveda’s Stress-Fix Aromatherapy Oil… Roll it on your wrists, under your nose, or in your hands and breathe deeply for calming yumminess.
4. Never arrive hungry
The number one biggest mistake people make around the holidays is “saving up” their calories for the big meal. This is surefire ticket to overeating, losing all self-control, and feeling like a failure. Always have a good breakfast and lunch (depending on what time dinner is) before showing up for dinner. If you’re feeling a little peckish before dinner, have a handful of nuts to tide yourself over. Stabilizing your blood sugar is the key to eating in moderation and enjoying your holiday, without the guilt, self-criticism, or drama.
Check out our 3 Healthy & Tasty Breakfast Ideas!
5. Make or bring a healthy dish
Always being prepared isn’t just for boy scouts, it counts for holiday eating as well! If you don’t know what kind of food situation you’re walking into, or you know that you have Aunt Maxine’s marshmallow-laden yams and greasy gravy to look forward to, be an awesome guest and bring a healthy dish or offer to cook one! Some crudités with hummus are an easy option that you can pick up on the way over, or, if you’re a part of the action, offer to cook some yummy vegan mashed yams, pumpkin pie, or some delicious roasted brussels sprouts so you know you’ll have healthy options to choose from.
Check out our recipes in A Healthier Take on Thanksgiving!
6. Load up on veggies first
This is the number two best holiday eating strategy for not overdoing it. Load up on lots of veggies, salad, or crudités before tucking into the turkey, fattening sides, or desserts. If you’re full of veggies, you’ll be a lot less likely to overeat all the problematic foods! Not sure that you’ll be able to find healthy veggies to start with? Bring or make them!
7. Have a few bites of all the desserts
Thanksgiving is not about depriving yourself, or feeling like the weird girl in the corner watching everyone eat. There is nothing wrong with indulging in a bit of dessert, but eating two pieces of pie on an already full stomach is a surefire way to Guilt City. (Not to mention Bloat Town and Fatiguesville) Instead of binging on your favorite dessert or abstaining altogether, have a bite or two of all the dessert options that look good to you. You’ll get a diversity of flavors, which will trick your mind into thinking you’ve eaten more than you have, and you won’t feel deprived! After every bite, connect to how you feel. Are you stuffed? Just right? Still hungry? Try to never go past comfortably full. And if you’re eating for any emotional reason, pause and take stock of what’s happening, so you can deal with it! You may need to go outside for a bit to get away from things, or confide in a close family member to get something off your chest. Overeating is not a way of dealing with emotions.. It’s a way of avoiding them! And avoidance always comes back to haunt you later on.
8. Juice it up
How you eat the day after your big holiday meal can have a huge impact on its lasting effects. Gorging yourself on Thanksgiving leftovers for the next three days can turn one special occasion meal into a whole weekend of poor choices. Instead, have a detoxifying green smoothie or green juice the next day, to help your body cleanse from the night before. If you really want to partake in leftovers, do it at lunch, not at dinner, so your body has plenty of time to burn it off. Try to go back to your healthy way of eating as quickly as possible after the holiday, and enlist the support of your friends and family! Believe me, they’re feeling the effects of that sausage stuffing just as much as you are, and they may welcome the idea!