Truth time – are you already stressing about how stuffed you’re going to be on Thanksgiving? Or restricting this week to “save room” for your Thanksgiving meal? Or dusting off your stretchy pants for Thanksgiving dinner? There is another way. A way that allows you to truly enjoy the holiday without guilt, without needing to unbutton your pants mid-meal, without feeling like a stuffed turkey at the end of the night, and without needing to crash diet or obsessively workout days before and days after the big day.
There is a way to move through Thanksgiving with ease. (And still enjoy the food!) Here’s my three-day plan for a guilt-free, pleasurable Thanksgiving. (It will work for any holiday.)
The day before
- Set your intention and visualize – how do you want the day to go? Spend time writing out your intention for the day. For example: I will move through the day relaxed, enjoy my family, feel calm when I sit down to eat, and slowly chew my food. After writing out your intentions, sit in meditation and visualize the day. Play out the ideal day from start to finish in your mind. Focus on the details: what will you wear, what will you talk about, what will your plate look like, how much will you eat.
- Hydrate – it’s likely that you won’t drink as much water on a holiday as you normally do. Be sure to drink extra water the day before. Typically you want to aim for half of your body weight in ounces per day but today down a few extra glasses.
- Have a treat – what’s your favorite indulgence on Thanksgiving? I recommend having a small portion the day before. We tend to overeat during holiday meals because we feel like we only get to eat the foods once a year so we should go all in. If you love pumpkin pie, have a small slice on Wednesday. It will still be special on Thanksgiving but you won’t feel like need to eat enough pie to last you all year.
The day of
- Move and meditate – holidays are busy, especially if you are cooking. Wake up with enough time to start your day with movement and meditation. Take a long walk with your dog early in the morning before the rest of the world is awake, hit your mat for a yoga session, or go for a run. Just move. And then spend a few minutes in quiet meditation. Run through your visualization exercise again and then surrender your plan. Close your meditation with this mantra: I have all the time in the world today. I am healthy. I am happy. I am at peace.
- HAVE BREAKFAST – this one deserves all caps because it is so important. Don’t skip breakfast to save room or calories. Don’t do it. This is just setting yourself up to binge eat later in the day. A green smoothie with healthy fats and protein is the perfect holiday breakfast. It is quick, doesn’t dirty a lot of dishes, and floods your system with nutrients. Here’s a simple green smoothie:
- 1 cup coconut water (or filtered water)
- 1 giant handful of organic spinach or kale
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 cup frozen berries
- 2 tablespoons chia or hemp seeds
- Probiotics powder (optional but recommended)
- Eat what you love – Most people make enough to feed an army for Thanksgiving. Just because there is three kinds of stuffing and several types of potatoes doesn’t mean that you need to eat some of everything. What do you really love and what is just so-so? Fill up half of your plate with veggies (as many greens as you can) and the rest with your favorite foods. Leave the rest. You don’t need to feel guilty about only eating what you love. Once you sit down silently recite “I love my food; my food loves me.“
- Chew, chew, chew – You’ve selected your favorite foods so why not enjoy them? Take small bites and chew each bite until liquid (about 20-30 chews per bite). If you feel self-conscious about all the chewing around your family, just do the best that you can and chew slowly. Breathe between bites. Look up from your plate and talk with your friends and family. Stop when you feel satisfied regardless of what’s left on your plate.
The day after
- Lemon water – start your day with hot water and lemon. Lemon water helps to eliminate toxins, aids digestion, and gets things moving. It is also alkalizing and balances the pH of your body.
- Twist it up – gentle twists will help your digestive system. This routine from Tara Stiles is my favorite.
- Go green – have a giant serving of greens with your breakfast. I’m loving greens with balsamic lately.
- 1/2 bunch of organic chard
- 1/2 bunch of organic kale
- 1/4 cup of raisins (if raisins aren’t your thing use a chopped organic apple)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Go back to normal – the holiday came and went. Let it go. It doesn’t matter if you followed any of these tips or ate until you were stuffed. Let. It. Go. Don’t carry guilt or stress with you for the rest of the holiday season. Let yourself off the hook and resume your normal fitness, self-care, and eating habits. One meal is not going to make or break your well-being.