“Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants.” –Kevin James
Today is the BIG day. The turkey’s in the oven, the pre-game festivities are underway. It’s Thanksgiving and that marks the official beginning of the holiday ‘eating season’. Some of you may have been training for this all year, while others have been ‘saving themselves’ or maybe even dreading the huge meals and month long holiday food ambush. Here are my 8 “Feel Great’ rules to help keep your turkey day and entire holiday season food-sane and healthy: (You don’t need to stop reading – dessert IS part of the package. I have a generous heart…).
1. You Can’t Drink Your Dinner and Eat It Too… Okay guys and gals, I am all too familiar with how this goes down. It starts innocently with a glass of wine or a drink at dinner or a party and before you know it you’ve drained the bottle and can be found sitting in the corner bonding with your friends Jack and Jim. Not only is this bad news for your reputation (thank you Facebook) but imbibing isn’t great for your waistline either. After a few drinks not only are your eating inhibitions down, but alcohol adds up fast. Consider that those 3 innocent, 5 ounce (yes, that is a ‘standard serving’) glasses of wine ring in at a total of 360 calories. That’s a piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Is coffee with Irish Cream or Kaluha more your style? One cup of that goodness is gonna cost 350 calories. Sorry to burst your “Paleo bubble” folks, but calories DO count. Drink wisely.
2. Don’t start your meal with the “I Could Eat My Arm” feeling… Would you walk into a snowstorm wearing shorts and T-shirt? That would just be stupid, right? Approach meals and parties the same way – you’re walking into a ‘food and drink’ storm, don’t go in empty. ‘Saving yourself’ for the main event may seem like a great idea in theory, but it’s likely not going to end well. Eat breakfast, lunch and/or have a small healthy snack (cookies do not qualify) before you hit the buffet or take your seat at the table.
3. No one ever left the table saying, “Damn that was an awesome dinner roll… Choose your indulgences. If you LOVE stuffing, then eat stuffing. If stuffing is, meh…, then don’t feel like you need to have a scoop. What do you really want? Which foods do you only get to have at this meal? If you eat sweet potatoes every day, maybe pass on them (unless you’re a sucker for the marshmallow, brown sugar and butter version that mom makes). If the rolls are on table are basically just a slice of Wonder bread in a rectangle shape or came out of a can that explodes when you ‘pull here’; are they really worth it to you? Be a food snob. Eat the good stuff (but please DO NOT post pictures of your choices on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook – no one really cares…). Remember that this isn’t your last meal. You will live to eat again – the only thing that should be stuffed today is the turkey and even that’s debatable.
4. Bringing your own meal in your own Tupperware is not acceptable: Bring a dish to SHARE. Being militant about staying ‘paleo’, ketogenic or Whole 30 compliant is just craziness. It’s a HOLIDAY – food is meant to be enjoyed – one meal will not; OMG – completely destroy your pancreas, break your thyroid or give you a heart attack. Seriously, live a little. Leave your pre-prepared, pre-measured perfect meal at home. Do bring something that fits ‘your standards’ to share with everyone. Show them that eating healthy food can taste good – lead by example not by isolation.
5. Today is NOT the day to convince your family that they need to be Paleo… Yeah, this is not the time or the place to ‘save’ uncle Bob or to tell everyone at the table how the stuffing, roll, pumpkin pie and Cool Whip salad are going to kill them. They thought you were weird before the whole Paleo thing – and this is definitely not going to win you any popularity points. Let them enjoy their meal. It’s going to be alright. I promise.
6. You are not in a Competitive Eating event…
“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.”
Slow down! Chew your food. DVR the game – you’ll be able to catch up and you can skip the commercials too. Taste and enjoy your food and your company. Put the phones away and TALK to each other. I know this may sound bat-$h!t crazy, but try it. I think you’ll like it.
7. Eat Dessert! You read that right. EAT DESSERT and ENJOY IT!!! This Paleo thing isn’t a religion – and dammit, pumpkin pie is good. This isn’t a license to eat the WHOLE pie, but a reasonably sized slice is totally sane and healthy. One dessert won’t kill you and in the event that it does, you’ll die happy.
8. Be THANKFUL for and enjoy your family, your friends AND your food… No explanation needed here, folks.