You’ve been working hard to be healthy and eat well. Does the Thanksgiving meal have to derail you? If you want to maintain your good healthy habits then include mindful eating at Thanksgiving time. And if you do it with an attitude of gratitude, it changes everything. Read on:
1. Count your blessings. Giving thanks for the good things in your life puts eating and food in perspective. Yes, we all go to great lengths to create the most beautiful table covered with delicious dishes and fabulous food, but is this the only thing that defines this holiday? Start counting the good things that are in your life right now including the people who bless your life, for good health, for freedom, for a home that keeps you safe and warm and on and on.
2. Give thanks for your hunger signals. This is an amazing metabolic system that helps you balance your energy needs telling you when you are hungry and when you are full. Start noticing your hunger. On a scale (see above) from one to ten, with one being famished and 10 being Thanksgiving stuffed, where are you on the scale? Schedule your eating so that you come to the Thanksgiving table at about a 2 or 3 on the hunger scale so that you can fully enjoy the meal; try everything and then reach a level of complete satisfaction at about a 7 or 8, avoiding the terrible discomfort of being overstuffed.
3. Enjoy the total sensual experience of the Thanksgiving gathering. Smell the aromas of the roasting turkey, the cinnamon baked apple pies or fresh baked dinner rolls. See the beautiful colors of the table, centerpiece, napkins and the varied shapes of plates, cups and serving dishes. And hear the sounds of Thanksgiving with bustling cooks in the kitchen, cousins sharing stories from the past, a frenzied football game in the background. There is a lot going on and you haven’t even tasted the food yet. Now taste the food. Enjoy the varied flavors and textures of each bite. Can you taste the rosemary in the butternut squash? What is that strong flavor in this carrot dish? The cranberry salad is wonderfully sweet and I love the creamy whipped topping.
4. Savor the eating experience. Only put on your plate the foods you know you want and in the amounts you think you need. You can always go back for more. Enjoy the moment by eating slowly, taking time to taste each bite. Put your fork down between bites and engage in conversation. If you load your fork with the next bite you will be more focused on the loaded fork than the food in your mouth and before you know it the food on your plate is gone. Sit a moment and let the food settle before taking the next bite. You will be far less likely to overeat if you take your time, plus leftovers taste amazing!
5. Add an activity to the Thanksgiving traditions. How fun is it to engage as a family in fun physical activities? I know families who, after the big meal, go for a big walk around the neighborhood. Maybe you challenge other families to a volleyball match. If there’s enough snow, add a fun day of skiing to the mix. Take a walk around your city center to view the lighted Christmas tree and other holiday sites. Whatever you do, keep active. If you’ve indulged a little too much (and we all do it), then keeping active will go a long way to burning up a few of those extra calories.
Above all, give thanks for all that is good in your life. Have a most wonderful Thanksgiving Day with your loved ones!!