Thanksgiving always comes with stresses around family, travel and food, but it there are few things you can do to minimize negative outcomes and even turn them into positive ones. Here are five tips on how to avoid pitfalls on Thanksgiving so that you can relax and enjoy the day.
- Eat a small breakfast and lunch. Many people skip the first two meals of the day so they can indulge in the feast without guilt. This strategy, however, is counterproductive because we typically make up for the meals with snacking or starving, and then still eat a huge meal (the calories add up one way or another). Here’s the thing: snacking all day is never a good idea (it messes with insulin release) and stuffing ones self isn’t either (guilt and feeling physically burdened are hard to stave off). So, what’s the solution? Staying balanced throughout the day, is the way to go. Eat two to three meals in the day spaced by about our hours as hopefully you usually do (research shows that 2-3 meals per day is ideal for weight loss, weight maintenance, and overall health). This way, you won’t fall prey to grazing, you won’t be starving before your holiday meal, and you will be less likely to overeat once the celebration is on it’s way.
- Try some new plant-based recipes. In addition to mine, a few instagram accounts I recommend for harvesting plant-based recipes include: @thefullhelping and @Jessicinthekitchen @veganricha and @nytcooking.
- Meditate before your meal to reduce stress. Stress, which can get high with travel and family and food around, can cause us to eat more and raises cortisol levels, which increases fat storage (cortisol sends our body into fight or flight mode and signals it to preserve energy). Find a quiet space where you can sit for 5 minutes without interruption. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. As you inhale, say “be” to yourself, and as you exhale, say “calm.” Repeat these words to yourself (in your mind not out loud) over and over for the duration of five minutes. If your mind wanders, take note of the thought, and bring yourself back to the mantra and your breath. When you get frustrated with your family, are stuck waiting the airport, or feel the urge to over eat, employ this technique. Just say the words to yourself and see how it can turn a potentially unpleasant experience around.
- Make sure to laugh. Research on humor as a therapeutic eating tool is promising, showing that laughter is a great way to curb poor eating habits. It reduces emotional and mental stress and anxiety, which are associated with negative eating choices, releases endorphins, which can reduce appetite, and reduces cortisol, which can cause unwanted fat storage. These things collectively help stave off cravings and indicate that you’re socially engaged, which is yet another thing studies show is associated with improved food choices, well-being, and longevity. So, rather than look for all the frustrating and annoying aspects of travel, family, and food, find and create moments of fun and laughter.
- Do some standing balance yoga poses. Standing balance poses require extreme focus and are therefore inherently grounding. Ever notice that when you’re emotionally fraught, you just can’t stand on one leg? Don’t let yourself get to that point. Start your day with these three poses: tree, eagle, and standing hand-to-big -toe.