Tips For a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving


All of us at the & The Center for Integrative Healing & Wellness wish you a happy, healthy Thanksgiving Day! You probably won’t eat perfect during the Holiday, and that’s okay. Don’t worry about it! Enjoy the day. How you eat on Thanksgiving Day does not determine your health; how you eat the other 364 days of the years does. Here are some tips for making this special day healthier, plus a few post Holiday tips just in case you overindulged.

Start Thanksgiving With Physical Activity – And Stay Active

Take the focus away from binging this Thanksgiving. Go outside and enjoy the crisp autumn air. Take a walk early in the day. And after dinner, suggest everyone go out (if the weather permits) for a neighborhood stroll. What a wonderful way for families to enjoy the holiday together.

Another tip: Plan some outdoor fun before dinner, like a game of soccer or volleyball with the kids. (It’s a great strategy for keeping the appetizer buffet at bay, too.)

Enjoy a Hearty Breakfast

Start a healthy Thanksgiving with a big bountiful breakfast like hot whole-grain cereal and an egg-white omelet brimming with veggies. That’s because saving up calories for the big meal rarely works. Otherwise you could end up overindulging on belly busters like a full ladle of gravy (about 800 calories!) instead of a tablespoon-size taste (70 calories). A healthy Thanksgiving starts with a hearty, healthy breakfast.

Help Out & Pitch In

Call your host and say, “I’d love to bring something. What are you planning on serving?” If you discover that one of the dishes is particularly unhealthy, offer to bring your own version. Sweet potatoes, for example, can be real killers – full of butter, syrup, and marshmallows. But when prepared within healthier guidelines, they can be perfectly healthy - and delicious!

Just bake the yams in foil at 400 degrees F until their syrupy juice starts to seep out, usually about one hour. Then, peel and layer them with pineapple slices and a little cinnamon.

Know Yourself

For most of us, there’s a certain part of the meal that gives us the most trouble. For some, it’s alcohol. For others, it may be dessert.

Devise a strategy. For alcohol, tell yourself, “I’ll enjoy a half glass of wine with appetizers, and a half glass with dinner,” or decide to stick with mineral water at first, saving your alcohol for the main meal. Or, if you have a rough time putting on the brakes once you get started, don’t start. Steer clear of the bar, and relish everything else the day has to offer - good conversation, good food, good memories.

If you have a sweet tooth, plan for it. If a taste of chocolate satisfies you, take it. Enjoy it. But if one taste sends you wanting a lot more, offer to bring your own healthy dessert, such as fresh raspberries and sorbet. Or have dessert waiting for you when you return home. A nice reward for a job well done! Put the mindful eating skills into practice. Eat slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and really savor each mouthful. It’s one of the easiest ways to enjoy your holiday meal without going overboard on calories.

Position YourselF

Don’t put yourself right in front of the candy dish. Who needs the agony? Plant yourself elsewhere, facing other pleasures – a nice fire, warm smiles, good tunes and a dance floor. You’ll have a much better time, and you’ll like yourself a lot more come morning.

Divide Your Plate

As we advocate with the Anti-inflammatory eating style, fill your plate half with vegetables, one quarter with white turkey meat, and the rest with a healthy starch, like corn on the cob, a baked potato, or sweet potatoes.

Do what is right for you - No One’s Watching

People often think that if they say “no” to certain dishes, everyone notices, or the host is insulted, when in fact there’s a very good chance no one notices. Just play it down. Simply say, “No thanks, I’m full,” or “Try me later.” Then, sit back and enjoy the rest of your healthy Thanksgiving Day.

Keep Your Goals In Mind

Before leaving for the party, steal away for a little quiet time to focus on you, only you. Take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself of your ultimate vision – a healthier you, a happier you. Then, tell yourself, “It’s going to be a great evening with family and friends!” Julia Child (of all people) said it best: “Life is the proper binge.”

OK so you Over Did iT a bit (or a lot) - now what?

Stop with the guilt - focus on the present

No good comes from beating yourself up. In the coming weeks (when the four main food groups for many people are cookies, candy, fudge, and booze), do your best not to descend into a “binge-guilt-binge-guilt-oh-what-the-hell” cycle.

Focus instead on the present, and praise yourself for laying the groundwork with a post-Thanksgiving healthy eating plan. Be proud that you’re conscious of your eating and exercise behaviors, and your efforts to improve them. Even better, lay the groundwork for a healthier life in 2019 and beyond. Consider booking a wellness retreat at CIVANA in January. That way, even if you slip up over the holidays, you’ll have piece of mind knowing that you’ve already made the commitment to “get back on track” in 2019. We will be hosting our Nutritional & Wellness retreat - CEO of you LifeStyle - on Jan 17-20th - come and join us!

Here’s another plus about booking a CIVANA retreat in the new year. Slated for roll-out in late December of 2018 is the opening of the new amazing 22,000 sq ft Spa CIVANA - designed to take you back to the origin of SPA-  Salus Per Aquam (Health through Water) by offering a choice of hydrotherapy immersions that include a tepidarium, hot/cold walking pool, cold plunge shower and saunarium. The ritual of “taking the waters” is intrinsic to the traditions of spa along with alternating hot and cold exposure. A pre and post ritual to ground the body for the healing therapies.

Get right back on track

Don’t let a Turkey Day binge turn into an “I blew it” binge that lasts till January 1st.

Toward that effort, make sure that you’re returning to a home well stocked with healthy foods for the day after Thanksgiving.  A big bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen table.  Fresh salad fixings in the fridge for lunch. Homemade soups in the freezer. Nonfat Greek yogurt, berries and other healthy snack foods. Make healthy use of leftovers. Top your salad, for example, with strips of roasted, skinless turkey breast.

Don’t let one day of overeating turn you into a butterball. Pick yourself up and get back on track, and keep moving. Get back to your regular exercise routine, or if guests are in town, plan something active for all of you for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  A hike in the hills.  A game of softball.  Cruising the shopping mall.  Do your best to stay off the sofa…

Stick to your normal healthy routine

Don’t, for example, overcompensate for your Thanksgiving binge over the next several days with a ton of hard-core exercise. Just stick to your regular fitness schedule. Trying to cram in extra workouts at the gym could leave you feeling stressed out. What’s worse, they may lead to an injury, putting you out of commission for the next several weeks. That’s the last thing your health goals need.

In the days after Thanksgiving, don’t starve yourself either. Sure, it seems like a good idea; you want to eat less to make up for the Turkey Day binge. But as you learned from my prior articles, restricting your food intake will only make you hungry. And when your stomach growls for too long, you know what happens. Any leftovers sitting in the fridge, especially the fatty, sugary ones, end up in huge platefuls in front of you.

Instead, start your day with a nice big bowl of hot, whole grain cereal topped with fruit, and if you’d like, an egg-white omelet full of stir-fried veggies. Round out the rest of the day with plenty more super-healthy anti-inflammatory-style foods, like:

  • Fresh fruit

  • Fresh veggie snacks with hummus

  • Green salads

  • Baked potatoes with salsa

  • Sweet potatoes with a little Dijon mustard

  • Corn on the cob

  • Cooked whole grains like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, and quinoa

  • Corn tortillas with lettuce, onions, salsa, and pinto beans

  • Hearty, bean-rich soups

  • Fish

  • Nonfat Greek yogurt

  • No-sugar-added applesauce

Fabio AlmeidaeZine36