Thanksgiving is just around the corner! If you’re looking to add some healthy but still delicious dishes to the mix, I’ve got your back!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love relaxing while watching the parade and dog show, hanging out with friends and family, enjoying a few adult beverages, and of course eating the delicious food. I’ve talked to quite a few people who want to make some nutritional changes but want to wait until “after the holidays.” Because it’s better to start a diet in the new year, right?
Guess what? You don’t have to be ON a diet!
You can just eat in a way that mostly moves you toward your goals, is sustainable, and delicious. And when a special occasion like Thanksgiving comes up you can have more food than you normally do, have some more indulgent food than you normally do, and then MOVE ON. You don’t have to eat all the pies, all the cookies, all the everything.
You’re not bad on Thanksgiving. You’re not cheating. That kind of mindset keeps you in diet mode. It keeps you thinking that eating is always something that you’re either doing well at or failing.
This is your life, you’re just living it! If you are working towards improving your health in some way, or just want to maintain the good health you already have, then yeah, you’re going to want to mostly eat in a way that supports that. You can absolutely avoid certain foods and enjoy others without it being a “diet.” I believe it’s all in how you look at it. There are a lot of foods I don’t eat right now. I choose not to because I’ve decided I don’t want to feel tired, lazy, bloated, constipated, etc. anymore. I’ve also worked hard to get to the point where I’m not on that sugar cravings roller coaster and I don’t want to get back on it!
I did a little searching for some Thanksgiving recipes that I think anyone and everyone would enjoy, regardless of dietary preference. You could make or bring any of these and not mention that they’re gluten, dairy, grain, and/or refined-sugar free and nobody would know! The interwebz are full of healthier options for all your holiday favorites. I like to create them as well but am just getting started with actually putting recipes up! So I picked out a bunch for you. Let me know if you try any of these or something similar!
In addition to these recipes, I wanted to share a few tips and strategies for moving into the holiday season and fully enjoying yourself but also keeping your health a priority.
1) Spend some time thinking about, or better yet, writing down what your health goals and intentions are. How do you want to feel? Do you have particular health concerns? Do you feel tired, depressed, anxious? Do you suffer from an auto-immune disease or other chronic illness? Are you sick and tired and feeling sick and tired? These are all signs that your body is out of balance. Think about what you want for your body, mind, and emotional health. Write this down and keep it in the forefront of your mind.
2) Plan ahead of time what you’re going to have and what isn’t worth it. Whether you’re hosting a holiday meal, going to be a guest somewhere, or going to parties at work, etc. going in with a plan is one of the best ways to help you manage the situation. Decide what indulgences might be worth it and which ones are not. The key here to deciding what’s worth it is being aware of those intentions from #1 above. 👆 You could say “it’s worth it” about every sugary treat that comes your way but you’re probably not being true to yourself and the health intentions you have. When you know what you want for yourself it’s easier to say no to some things but then fully enjoy the things you say yes to.
For example, I don’t think it’s worth it to go for things like pretzels, store-bought candy, cookies, pies, etc. I’d rather save my pie eating for my mom’s pumpkin pie. I can let the store-bought rolls pass me by knowing that I’m going to say yes to a little bit of gluten-free stuffing.
3) If you’re going somewhere, bring a dish or two! Check out some of the recipes below or find something similar. Everyone can enjoy it and you can feel good knowing that it’s a healthier option. You can also use that as a way to help convince other people that healthy food IS good!
4) If you’re going somewhere that is appropriate to do so, confer with the host about the menu. Are you going to be with family? Maybe you can chat with your mom/dad/siblings/etc. about what the meal plan is and see if you can make some suggestions. You may be able to start some new traditions and get others on board with choosing healthier (but again, STILL just as delicious) dishes!
5) Indulge with better ingredients. Goes along with the last two I suppose but you can switch out things like white sugar, flour, and even milk with other ingredients like raw honey, natural maple syrup, or coconut sugar (and use less!), almond, coconut, or other gluten or grain-free flours, and coconut milk. It will still be sweet, it will still be a dessert and a treat, but will at least have some beneficial properties to it!
6) Fast the next day or part of the day. You may have heard of intermittent fasting. This isn’t to punish you for eating a lot on Thanksgiving. This is just a strategy you can use to lower blood sugar, lower insulin, allow your body to burn through the excess energy you may have consumed, allow your cells to “clean house” a bit, and fight inflammation and free-radical damage. Fasting is a great tool for any time, but particularly after a big feast. You may want to ease into it a bit a few days ahead of time. Which would be, like, now.
Ideally, you should be able to go at least 12 hours without eating. Most of that time you’re sleeping and just naturally fasting! So, have your dinner and then don’t eat again until at least 12 hours later, which would be breakfast. Then, try 14 hours from dinner to breakfast, and then 16.
7) Get moving! Again, not as punishment but to help your digestive system work properly. Going for a walk after your big meal can help stimulate proper digestion to break down and work through all that food.
8) Take a digestive enzyme. Eating a massive amount of food at one time can just be really hard to digest. Especially if you already have a compromised digestive system. A digestive enzyme can give your body a boost to more efficiently break down that food into manageable and absorbable molecules.
Alrighty folks, I hope you can enjoy this time of year and know that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! I plan to fully enjoy myself but will be utilizing most, if not all, of those tips!
On to the recipes. Let me know if you try any of these and how they turn out!