Thanksgiving Guide: How to Indulge, Enjoy, and Still Button your Pants (Butternut Squash Soup Recipe Included)

November 18, 2011

I love Thanksgiving and the holiday season.  The gathering of loved ones, time off from work, and of course good (and plentiful) food.  Although I have been at a healthy weight for many years now, the holidays still pose their challenges.  Holiday eating used to cause me much anxiety, but I have learned many skills over the years that I hope you find helpful for enjoying your holiday to the fullest, without sabotaging your overall healthcare and life goals.

*It’s just 1 meal.  Thanksgiving (and Christmas and New Years Eve) are 1-day events.  People don’t gain weight because of 3 holiday meals.  Holiday weight gain occurs because of office and holiday parties, leftovers, and eating because it’s in the nature of the “holiday spirit.”  So choose the meals that you will indulge in, and eat cleanly outside of those meals.  Get rid of temping leftovers.  The holiday season is not an excuse to not be mindful.

*Thanksgiving food needn’t be junk food.  Sure, we all want to eat and feel full, and perhaps take a lazy nap after our meal, but can you choose recipes with fresh, whole ingredients?  If you are a guest at somebody’s home who insists on serving boxed stuffing and canned cranberry sauce, perhaps you can offer to bring a side dish that includes some vegetables and other fresh ingredients?  This butternut squash soup recipe from Williams Sonoma is delightful (I leave out the heavy cream and still find it smooth and creamy).  I am also going to experiment with a Greek Greens Pie with Cornmeal Crust recipe that I hope is good!

*Drink responsibly.  Avoid high sugar mixers, and stick to red wine or straight alcohol.  For those who wish to get the most “bang for their alcohol buck,” have your drink(s) before the big meal.  You’ll need less to feel the effects with less food in your stomach, and your warm, fuzzy feelings will continue well into the meal 🙂

*You can choose to stick to your weight loss plan if you want to.  If you are on a weight loss plan and don’t want to lose momentum during the holiday, focus on filling your gut with low calorie, nutrient-dense foods.  Offer to bring something you know you can bulk up on.  Start off with a bowl of soup (again, the butternut squash soup!), and pile your plate with mostly vegetables and lean turkey breast (no skin).  You can feel full without sabotaging your progress.  Avoid or minimize sauces and gravies.

*People don’t gain weight from tastes.  One bite is all you really need to get the full flavor and satisfaction.  Bulk up on lower calorie, nutrient-dense foods, and taste anything that looks good and exceptionally decadent!

*Exercise.  It’s harder to gain weight if you keep up with vigorous exercise.  Many gyms are open on Thanksgiving morning, and there is a sense of camaraderie among gym goers the day before and after a holiday.  We all are in the same boat:  trying to knock off as many extra calories as possible to offset Aunt Sally’s famous pumpkin pie.  If you normally do 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, do 45.  I will be running the Bethesda Chevy Chase Turkey Chase 10K race early Thanksgiving morning, and I would love to see you there!

*Mind your cravings.  After indulging in a decadent day of eating, your blood sugars will be off, and you will crave more sweet and decadent foods than normal the next day.  Utilize your willpower to eat cleanly, and know that the cravings will pass.

*Keep your meaning and true intentions in mind.  Holidays are celebrations.  Enjoy the company of your surrounding loved ones.   The memories of your holiday will likely include funny stories and meaningful connections, and not how many calories you consumed.  If you do find yourself worried or preoccupied about food, remember that food made with love and good intention and shared with those you care about is healthy food.  Enjoy.

Remember, you are what you eat.

In good health,


2 Responses to “Thanksgiving Guide: How to Indulge, Enjoy, and Still Button your Pants (Butternut Squash Soup Recipe Included)”

  1. karen Says:

    I think you give sage advice on enjoying the holidays …well written words that will keep me focused..Thank you Molly!

  2. Jeanne Says:

    Very helpful and wise advice…..Thank you for such a timely message.

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