A Recipe for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Over the last two weeks, I’ve received dozens of questions about the big holiday on Thursday.

You know. Thanksgiving. The day devoted to family, food, festivities, and football.

For some of us, this sounds like heaven on earth. For others, it can induce some serious stress.

Regardless of the camp you’re in, there are ways to enhance your day to make sure your Thanksgiving is both happy and healthy.

Just follow my five step recipe for Thanksgiving success and you’ll be well on your way!

Step 1: Exercise in the morning


First things first. Start your Thanksgiving with a sweat. This way you’ll get a shot of stress-relieving and feel-old hormones that will be sure to help you feel fantastic for the rest of the day.

Does this sound too boring to you? Then make it a social event and rally a group to sign up for a Turkey Trot or head to a Thanksgiving themed class. Organize a group hike.

Prefer the solo approach? Hit the gym, walk, bike, jog ... the options are endless.

Just make sure to start your day with a sweat.

Step 2: Have a healthy breakfast

Smoothie .jpeg

It can be tempting to fast all day and binge at dinner. However, I NEVER recommend this approach. Why?

If you head into your Thanksgiving meal totally famished, a few things will happen. One, you’ll be a grump. Coupling that with your annoying Uncle could be a recipe for disaster. Two, any alcohol you have will go straight to your head. Which could precipitate awkward conversations about politics with your right or left wing extremist relatives. Three, you are more likely to binge on the first thing you see. Which could be the weird hor d’oeuvres your cousin brought that doesn’t even taste good.

Having a good breakfast doesn’t mean you need to eat a Denny’s grand slam. Instead have a lighter breakfast that will leave you feeling great and that loads you up on nutrients.

Need some inspiration? Try this green smoothie (from this post) or my favorite oatmeal (in this post).

Step 3: Avoid the pre-meal snacks


Now, this one depends on your personal preferences. If you wait all year for a special artichoke dip or special appetizer, please savor and enjoy each and every bite.

But if you’re just grazing on food mindlessly to kill time until the big meal, skip on the snacks. And if you feel like you must snack on something, have some raw veggies.

Bottomline: Indulge in the foods you love on Thanksgiving and pass on those that aren’t doing it for you.

Step 4: Seriously enjoy your meal.


I mean this. Thanksgiving comes once a year (unless you’re Canadian-American). So savor and enjoy the holiday.

Appreciate the feast. Breathe in the delicious aromas. Relish in the fluffiness of the mashed potatoes, the complex seasoning on the stuffing, and the heartiness of the gravy. Truly taste the wine and cider.

Consider Thanksgiving a serious holiday for your senses. And enjoy every moment.

Step 5: Lose the guilt



There is no reason to feel guilty for enjoying your Thanksgiving meal. If you find yourself feeling guilty for eating your favorite holiday foods, may I offer you a suggestion?

Gently close your eyes and take a few deeps breaths. On your inhalation, breathe in celebration. On your exhalation, breathe out any guilt or anxiety you feel.

Seriously. Give this a try.

And if you need more help on savoring the day and losing the guilt, check out my post here.

Now you have my cooking-free recipe for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

I’m wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy, and better Thanksgiving.

With gratitude,

How to Have a Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

The holiday season is upon us and in the last week, I’ve received dozens of worried queries on how to handle Thanksgiving.

I sense a lot of stress, anxiety, and anticipated guilt with the upcoming holidays.

Questions like:

What should I eat?
What should I NOT eat?
Should I eat pie?

have flooded my inbox.

And for good reason. As a society, we often associate food with shame and guilt.

And that breaks my heart. (Especially because I used to feel that way.)

Because food is a beautiful thing —it provides nourishment, pleasure, and community. It sparks conversation and discussion. Inspires creativity. Food is an integral part of our communal culture.

Somewhere many of us have gotten mixed up with food. It’s become less of a pleasure and more of an anxiety. More shameful and less pleasurable.

But starting today and with the Thanksgiving holiday, you can change your relationship with food. You can relish in the pleasures of food and ditch the guilt.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving with a large meal, like many Americans, I have some tips to help you enjoy the holiday. Without the regret, guilt, and remorse.

Because you can enjoy a meal without feeling bad. And you should!

Here are 5 ways to have a guilt-free Thanksgiving.

1. Celebrate your Thanksgiving on a single day at a single meal.

Sit, enjoy, and relish your meal. Fill your plate with foods you truly love. And savor each and every bite.

And then the next morning, get yourself back on track. And the night before Thanksgiving? Eat as you normally would — fill up on vegetables and other nutrient dense foods.

Thanksgiving doesn’t give you a week, month, or season’s long excuse to overindulge.

Enjoy the day (sans guilt) and then get back to business!

2. Fill your plate ONLY with foods you love.

If your mouth waters thinking of fluffy mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, go for it! And slowly chew and relish every single bite. Are you ambivalent toward stuffing or suspicious looking jello salad? Skip it!

Eat what you love, and pass on the rest.

3. Say no thank you to leftovers

Unless you are taking home a veggie plate, green salad, or fruit, politely decline on the leftovers. Because the next day you should be getting back on track. And let’s be honest, potatoes and stuffing never taste as good the next day. Plus you will enjoy your Thanksgiving meal MORE if you know you’re only having it once.

4. Break a sweat!

Break a sweat before the feast. Go for a run or brisk walk. Play soccer, football, or basketball with family. Sign up for an exercise class. Find something you love and commit to it. Your mind and body will thank you.

5. Take a deep breath and lose the guilt.

Gently close your eyes and take a few deeps breaths. On your inhalation, breathe in celebration. On your exhalation, breathe out any guilt or anxiety you feel.

Seriously. Give this a try.

There was a study that compared reactions to images of food between Americans and French(wo)men.  Americans were shown a picture of chocolate cake and the first word that crossed their minds was “guilt.” The French were shown the same image and the word that came to mind was “celebration.”

Thanksgiving is a time where I say we embrace our inner French. Celebrate and enjoy. Without the guilt.

If guilty and anxious thoughts are crossing your mind with Thanksgiving, please try one (or ALL) of these tips. Because food is a beautiful thing. And you deserve to enjoy.

Wishing you a wonderful (and guilt-free) Thanksgiving,

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