I have been studying and practicing holistic nutrition for many years now. Every year, I move closer to my ideal diet and away from the habits that detract from my health. This year, for maybe the first time, I am so in love with my daily diet that the thought of Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t excite me. It’s not an excuse to ‘eat up’ anymore; it’s just a day where I am more challenged than usual to give my body what it loves and craves.
The typical Thanksgiving meal is high starch/sugar and high fat, which if you aren’t already aware is the WORST nutrient combination you can eat. High carb can be ok, and high (healthy) fat is ok, but the two together send your hormones out of whack and over time lead to diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular illness, etc. Personally, when I eat a meal like that, especially with all the bakery goods and intensely sweetened desserts, it can send my blood sugar into a tailspin that literally can take me weeks to recover from. (Did I mention that flour is one of the worst ingredients for your appetite and your blood sugar? Be warned!)
Our food choices don’t just affect us for one meal, or even one day. The foods you choose to eat today can affect your body and your choices for a long time beyond. When I see that, I decide to make choices that give me the feelings I want to feel long-term—centered, calm, focused, energized–and I know what I need to do to feel that way, and continue to feel that way on a daily basis.
So as I approach Thanksgiving 2016, I go into it wanting to leave the table feeling as good and energized as I sat down to it. And Friday morning I want to feel satisfied with my eggs, spinach and avocado, instead of fighting off the obsessive craving for a chocolate chip muffin.
The following are some tips to practice health and self-care in the face of an imperfect situation. This applies not just to Thanksgiving, but to any holiday or meal out. (The key is keeping blood sugar levels as stable as possible.)
- Have a high-quality breakfast and lunch. If the meals leading up to the big one are poor quality, our blood sugar is likely to be unstable before we even get to our Thanksgiving feast–which makes us more likely to indulge and eat in a way that is not supportive of our health and our personal goals. Make sure your breakfast and lunch include protein, good fat and fiber. Eat lots of alkalizing food, like veggies, too.
- Drink lots of water. Water helps us to feel fuller and keeps our systems functioning properly, which will help to keep us from overeating. Half your body weight in ounces is a good rule of thumb for a daily intake. Also, follow every alcoholic or caffeinated beverage with a glass of H20.
- Limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol actually stimulates the appetite. If you are going to drink, try to abstain for the hour before and during your meal. Alcohol’s appetite-stimulating effects are the strongest within an hour of consumption.
- Avoid caffeine. Caffeine can also affect your blood sugar. By switching to decaffeinated coffee or tea after your meal, you may be able to reduce the rise in blood sugar from that pumpkin pie you’re having for dessert.
- Take a mineral supplement. Starchy and sugary foods create an acidic internal environment. A good multi-mineral supplement is alkalizing and will help bring you back into balance. The best mineral supplements are liquid and contain fulvic and humic acids.
- Eat slowly. The faster you eat, the more you eat, and the harder it will be to put down your fork when the body has had enough. Slow eating also stimulates better digestion, so you’re less likely to suffer from gas and bloating after your meal. Take three full breaths before beginning to eat (maybe during grace, if that is part of your tradition). Put down your fork and take a breath between bites. You’ll also notice and taste more of what you’re eating.
And for extra credit: bringing a nutritious dish to share is a great way to take care of yourself and your loved ones, too.
What are your tips and practices to keep you feeling great on Thanksgiving?
Have a happy, healthy holiday!