For people like you and me, who care about our bodies, Thanksgiving can bring mixed feelings of fun, relaxation and guilt. We all love to spend time with friends and family, and we all love to feast on stuffing, pie, etc. The good news is you can enjoy Thanksgiving without the guilt and without throwing away the progress that you’ve made so far this year.
There are two parts to enjoying Thanksgiving without the guilt:
- Enjoy Thanksgiving on November 28th
- Set your metabolism up for success.
The first one is by far the most important. If you were only going to do one thing, then focus on #1. Here’s a breakdown:
Enjoy Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving
The most important thing to remember is that Thanksgiving is just one day per year. It’s not a week-long feast. The most important thing to remember about making that a reality are 3 words “strategy trumps willpower.”
With the stress of travel, family, etc. during the holiday’s willpower is already at a premium, so a strategic focus is even more important. (Read more about activation energy here, or watch the video below.)
1. Manage your leftovers: Take home or keep the protein and veggies. If you are a guest, take home protein and veggies. If you are the host, make it your goal to send home the desserts and such with your guests, and also to keep (but not hoard) at least some of the protein and veggies. When you wake up on Friday thinking about pie you don’t have any on hand, it’s pretty easy to let that thought pass while you eat turkey instead.
2. Contribute to a healthier menu: We’re not trying to ban anything, or eliminate the fun. We’re just trying to make a few better options available, and (more importantly) trying to ensure that we have substantial healthy leftovers. If you are in charge of the/a protein, make a bigger one than you need so that you can probably have a lot of the good leftovers. You can also make some awesome veggies side dishes – maybe make an extra one, or just a bigger batch. (Here’s a good place to look for healthy recipes)
Set Your Metabolism up for Greater Success
This part is a bonus. If you can do any of this stuff, that is great. If you can’t, don’t worry about it.
Feasts are about extra food, and especially about extra carbs. Our modern lifestyles of grazing and sitting make metabolizing extra carbs very hard on our body (among other problems). Eating less frequently really improves metabolic health, and thus helps with fat-loss and body composition. Read more about meal frequency here. Being sedentary retards our muscles ability to metabolize glucose without the aid of extra (excess?) insulin production. Here are 2 ways (in descending order of priority) to help your body do better things with the extra food and carbs:
1. Wait to eat: everyone fasts every day – like when you sleep, and a longer fast – like 12, 16 or even 20 hours – will improve your insulin sensitivity (amongst other things) and help your body do better with the huge influx of food to come.
2. Workout: strength and interval training will help deplete your body’s store of carbs and improve your insulin sensitivity. If you can get 20min of kettlebell swings done, or maybe more, that’ll help.