This article originally appeared in the November issue of the Rittenhouse Sq Revue.
Giving Thanks: How to Be Truly Nourished This Thanksgiving
Did you know that according to some research, the average American consumes approximately 3,000 calories during Thanksgiving dinner? That’s more calories than most people need during the entire day. Add in a few hundred extra calories each day following Thanksgiving as the leftovers disappear, and most people are almost guaranteed to begin a few months of steady, holiday weight gain with their Thanksgiving meal.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Thanksgiving is meant to be a celebration of the autumn harvest, and a time when we nourish ourselves with whole food from the earth. It’s also a time to celebrate things that we are thankful for and that truly nourish us – our friends, our family and all of the blessings in our lives that bring us joy and happiness on a daily basis.
So why do we overeat so much at Thanksgiving dinner? For some people, it’s simply about not paying attention to how much they are eating. We can be so busy preparing the meal, running around the den with our nieces and nephews and catching up with family and friends that we forget to pay attention to when we’re full. For some, it may be because they’ve deprived themselves of their favorite foods as a way to “save up” for the holiday, and in turn, they binge when they finally get to dinner.
But let’s face it – what would Thanksgiving be without grandma’s turkey, dad’s mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie? Here are some tips for staying healthy this Thanksgiving while still enjoying all of the delicious and comforting treats the holiday offers.
“Save” your calories for dinner. When we skip meals, our bodies go into starvation mode, and begin thinking that they need to cling to whatever calories we give them when we do eventually eat. This leads to a sluggish metabolism and a voracious appetite at dinner that will cause you to overeat.
Deprive yourself of your favorite family dishes. If you love pumpkin pie, have some. Life is too short not to! But keep portion sizes in check. Have three bites of the pie, and then fill up on fruit and a nice cup of coffee or a glass of wine for dessert. By “crowding out” some of the calories and fat from the pie with fruit, you will save hundreds of calories and leave the table feeling satisfied, but not stuffed.
Eat until you are really full. It takes approximately 15 minutes for our bodies to send us signals that we are full after we eat, so by the time we realize it, we may have already overdone it. Practice mindful eating by putting your fork down between bites, fully chewing all of your food, and paying attention to the sight, smell, taste and texture of each bite.
Have a healthy Thanksgiving Day. Have a good breakfast and a light lunch filled with fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Take a walk or jog around Rittenhouse Square, or treat one of your nieces or cousins to a nature walk in one of the parks in the area. Getting some fresh air and exercise will increase your metabolism and help you work up an appetite for dinner.
Bring your own healthy dish to dinner. Everyone needs something they can eat a large amount of and fill their plate with. Have some fun with the amazing seasonal produce we have available to us in our area. How about a pureed soup with Kennett Square mushrooms? Or a big, fresh arugala salad with peaches and dried cranberries? Take your favorite flavors from the season and turn them into healthy holiday dishes. Who knows, you might start a new family tradition!
Consider what your “primary foods” are. What are the things that truly feed you? Is it looking at family photos and reminiscing about old times? Is it spending time with your favorite uncle? Get up from the table and remember what Thanksgiving is really all about – giving thanks.
And here’s a great, easy recipe to bring to your dinner…
Roasted Autumn Vegetables
Roasting seasonal vegetables is a great way to celebrate fall flavors. Use local produce from a Pennsylvania or New Jersey farm, and your veggies will be packed with even more nutrients and taste. This is a great side dish to bring to your traditional Thanksgiving meal (hint -–it can even be made the day before). It will leave you feeling filled with grounding energy.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Chop up 4-6 cups of any of the vegetables below:
Carrots – cut into large chunks, or baby carrots
Parsnips – cut into large cunks
Broccoli – cut into large pieces
Cauliflower – cut into large pieces
Red onion – cut into thick slices
Eggplant – cut into two-inch cubes
Potatoes – cut into large chunks
Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, a few minced garlic cloves, and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Place in a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes. Can be served hot, room temperature or cold.
Need some help staying on track during the holidays? Email me for a free consultation.