Eat less during Thanksgiving?!?! The sacrilege.
Doesn’t that...defeat the purpose?
I mean, it’s that one time of year you get to let yourself eat as much as physically possible until all you want to do is pass out in front of primetime football in your uncle’s recliner.
You wait all year for this.
With that said, it’s not surprising to know that the average American gains about 1-10 pounds during the holiday season — and keeps it on for another five months.
With that said, it’s not only okay, but perfectly understandable to not give a crap about the calories you eat during Thanksgiving because gorging yourself to maximum fullness is just the tradition of how you celebrate with your family.
And that’s totally fine! Literally not the end of the world to take that one day out of the year to let those worries go.
Nevertheless, I still get asked questions by the hypervigilant about the best ways to control yourself during Thanksgiving dinner so you don’t end up starting the new year 10 pounds heavier with all of your fall progress undone.
If you’re one of those people, this article is for you.
Let me just start off by saying that overeating during the holidays is almost definitely as mental as it is physical.
Mentally, when we categorize our Thanksgiving food more generally than specifically, we eat less. So, how do we apply this concept during the holiday dinner?
Basically, you want to think of the meal as an actual dinner, a meal!, rather than a bunch of dishes you have to “get through” or boxes you have to check to ensure you get the full Thanksgiving experience.
Many people eat their plate of food thinking, “okay, now that I’ve finished my macaroni and cheese, let’s go try some of that dressing next” and keep going until they’ve eaten all of the tasty offerings in the spread. This is the categorizing of eating that I mentioned earlier.
However, by adopting this mentality, you’re now seeing your supper as a mission to complete rather than a dinner to enjoy and nourish your body with.
During normal meals, we stop eating when we feel full or when we are “satiated”.
However, AS YOU ALL KNOW, these physical cues go out the frickin window on that fateful Thursday. And that’s mostly because our psychological cues around food are stronger during this time and we eat until we’re absolutely stuffed.
And this is because we are categorizing what we are eating. To override this phenomenon, you should think of the meal as a whole. Basically, think of the meal as one dinner instead of individual dishes you have to get through.
Pay attention to how much food you are having rather than how many dishes you are having. This can be difficult during the holidays due to all of the family chatter, all the catching up and the hilarious reminiscing.
However, it can be key in your efforts to not return home loosening your belt. So, here are some tips to keep the holiday feast a bit more reasonable:
1.) Make your plate at Thanksgiving like you would make any other plate. Don’t pile it high and only take what you think would satisfy you on any other day.
2.) Go slowly and savor your food. This is how Thanksgiving dinner should be enjoyed rather than stuffing yourself for the sake of doing so.
3.) Pick out 3-4 dishes (in addition to the turkey because that’s just a given) that you want to make sure you try. Once you’ve enjoyed those, eaten them slowly to indulge in them and finished them up, see how full you feel. If you feel satisfied, it’s okay to stop there!
4.) For the macro-conscious, focus more on the protein-rich foods (like turkey and ham) as well as the veggie-rich food (like greens, green bean casserole, yams and brussels sprouts) than the carbohydrate-rich foods (like stuffing, pastas, mac and cheese and pies). This can not only make your dinner more nutritious, but make you feel fuller sooner and for longer.