The season of Pumpkin Spice everything is officially upon us, which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner. This season is great for spending time with all the people you love and doing family activities, such as pumpkin carving. But, for those of you who are very mindful of what and how much you eat, the thought of multiple Thanksgiving dinners can conjure up a little anxiety… Will you be able to resist all the delicious treats? How will you be able to control what you’re eating if you aren’t the one who prepares the meal? Will you be able to stick to your goals? What happens if your family and friends don’t understand? The truth is things might not go according to plan and some of these concerns might become a reality, but we’ve come up with a few helpful tips and tricks to help you prepare for it.
1) Go in with a plan
Whether this means you’ve decided to pack your food scale, eyeball your portions, or plan on being conscious of what you put on your plate, stick to your plan! This can be as simple as filling up on meat, veggies, sticking to only one starch for dinner, and then saving room for ONE piece of your favorite dessert!
2) Don’t arrive hungry
Whether you’re into macro tracking or not, please don’t avoid eating all day in order to “save” your cals for Thanksgiving dinner. You are far more likely to over eat if you’ve been hoarding your daily calories for this one dinner. Ever heard of the saying “Eyes bigger than your stomach”? (maybe that’s just a Francophone saying?) Anyway this 100% applies here; if you’ve been starving yourself all day, you are going to load your plate far more than if you hadn’t starved yourself. Our recommendation is to have a nice big high-protein & veggie meal prior to dinner, this will help you load your dinner plate wisely.
3) Pick your treat and make it WORTH it.
If you are deciding to have dessert, that is absolutely okay! One treat won’t make or break your progress, as long as you don’t use it as an excuse to completely blow up. We sometimes get our grandmas telling us : “Well you’ve already had one, might as well have another one…”. It’s hard, we get it! You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but chances are you will be much happier with yourself if you only indulge in your one treat vs eating half the dessert plate. Also, make your treat worth it! Eat something that you only enjoy this time of year or something that you absolutely LOVE. What I mean by this is just make sure that you really enjoy your treat and it’s not something that you can find every day, (i.e a chocolate chip cookie). This can be a dessert, mulled wine, rum & eggnog, etc.
4) Handling Pressure
Whether you’re new to this healthy lifestyle or a seasoned veteran, there will be questions, curiosities, and comments from various family members. Some might be positive ones where they really just want to know what you’re doing… And others might take shape in some negative comments, making you feel like your lifestyle is an inconvenience. (Ex. “You’re taking this too far”). Try to keep in mind that you deserve to take care of yourself and there’s nothing wrong with living a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few ways to handle the pressure :
• Go in with a positive mindset! You know that there will be questions and as previously mentioned, it’s easy to let your anxiety get the best of you. Try to be patient with your family/friends, and maybe even share with them what it is that you’re doing and why you value it so much.
•Make yourself a list of non-confrontional responses to comments. Don’t get defensive, that can turn things awkward pretty quickly. Our go-to is to emphasize how extremely happy we are with our current lifestyle. That usually turns the conversation from negative to positive in a heartbeat.
•Talk to your spouse, sibling, parent, friend, etc. and try to have someone on “your side”. In case you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s great to have someone that you can talk to that has your back. This can be someone who’s at the same family function or even someone that you can just send a quick text to.
5) *FOR YOU MACRO TRACKERS*
It’s hard to track the macros when you aren’t the one preparing the food. Whether or not you bring your food scale, just try your absolute best. If you’re a seasoned macro-tracker, you might even feel pretty comfortable eye-balling your portions. Going over your macros a little bit is much better than saying “ah screw it. I don’t have my scale anyways, I’ll just eat whatever I want”. Here are some helpful tips specially geared towards tracking your macros :
•Log your meal ahead of time as much as possible! You don’t want to be fiddling on MFP during dinner. Log an approximate of what you plan on eating, take a picture of your dinner plate once it’s all made up and adjust accordingly if needed.
•Account for additional fat used during preparation. I personally tend to add 5g per dish, unless you know for a fact that they did not use any cooking oils to prepare the dish.
•Prepare and bring a side dish! It’s a nice gesture AND it gives you piece of mind knowing the macros for at least one of the dishes being served!
All this to say, enjoy your holiday season! It’s okay not to be perfect 100% of the time… We are human after all. There will be bumps along the road, and this is just one of those bumps. However if you do decide to take an “off” meal, that’s absolutely okay! Just try not to let it spiral out of control and turn into a week-long binge. Your body deserves to be taken care of! I hope this has helped some of you feel reassured and prepared for the upcoming family gatherings.
Happy Thanksgiving from us at Outlook Nutrition! 🙂