Healthy Eating Tips Holiday Tips

Thanksgiving Day Eating Tips Protect You From Getting Stuffed like a Turkey!

Just like many holidays, Thanksgiving Day has evolved into an excuse to stuff your face. A traditional meal includes mouth-watering turkey and cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potato and gravy, green beans, corn, rolls with butter, and pumpkin, apple or pecan pie. And of course, there are drinks and appetizers to boot.

With so much food on Thanksgiving Day, it’s easy to get as stuffed as the turkey! However, if you play your cards right and eat to your self-satisfaction, unlike the turkey, you will survive Thanksgiving Day and the holiday season.

Thanksgiving Day Celebrates Cultural Unity

Thanksgiving is a tradition that has been celebrated for about 400 years. It is much more meaningful than just sitting down to a meal, we should be celebrating cultural unity.

1621 marks the first Thanksgiving Day feast. Together, the Plymouth Colonists and the Wampanoag Indians sat down to share a meal that represented the bountiful harvest and foods gathered as a result of the two cultures working together. This was the beginning of a 50-year harmony between the Pilgrims and Indians.

Indians and Pilgrims Create the Thanksgiving Day Tradition

While the Wampanoag Indians and the pilgrims were not friends, they were friendly. Neither group trusted each other. The pilgrims thought of the natives as savages and the Indians felt the settlers were weak, short and smelly. But to survive they understood they needed each other.

The Indians knew how to farm and wanted guns. The pilgrims had muskets and cannons yet they needed to learn how to farm and avoid poisonous plants to survive. So they built a relationship on trade.

Diplomacy and trade helped bring them together. These strangers from two different nations learned to live together in peace. The perfect moral to a Thanksgiving Day holiday tradition!

The Indians brought deer and spices to the feast. Colonists contributed wildfowl,  vegetables (corn, lettuce, cabbage, onions, peas, and carrots) and fruits (cranberries, blueberries, gooseberries, plums, grapes, and raspberries).  Interestingly,  this is not what we consider a traditional feast.

Although there are a few similarities to the original feast, much of the tradition has been lost. In particular, the traditional bounty has been replaced with foods filled with sugar. For example, fresh fruits are now served as cranberry sauce and pie!

Hence, the nutritional value of the modern-day Thanksgiving meal has been diluted with excess calories, fat, and sugar.

A Holiday Tradition of Thanks & Giving

One of the most memorable Thanksgiving holidays I have experienced was volunteering to serve a meal to a group of senior citizens. The organized event brought a community together; a group of moms, seniors, and a school full of children.  A traditional Thanksgiving meal was served by moms to the seniors and the children gave the seniors hand-made gifts and performed a special holiday entertainment show.

Everyone had fun and we were all thankful! Lots of smiles were exchanged. The children were proud and happy that the seniors enjoyed the songs and celebrations. The moms were delighted to serve the seniors and enjoyed watching their children interact with the seniors. The seniors were excited and appreciated the time we spent together.

Similarly to the Indians and Pilgrims, consider working together to give to your community. Help others. Get involved. There are many options: you can volunteer from home or start your volunteer program.

Above all, it is important to consider, that no Thanksgiving meal, can compare to the gift of giving. However, in keeping with Thanksgiving tradition, let’s FEAST!

The Thanksgiving Day Feast: What Will It Be?

Thanksgiving Day can set the pace for the rest of the holiday season. No matter what foods are served choice dictates your holiday survival. There will be a smorgasbord of comfort foods that will call your name and beg, “eat me”.

Today, a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal is loaded with a lethal combination of calories, fat, carbs and sugar. However, one meal won’t kill you. The leftovers, holiday food giving and parties are what spirals uncontrolled eating and then tips the scales in the wrong direction.

One Tiny Thanksgiving Day Eating Tip

Take into account what you might eat on Thanksgiving Day and make a simple change to your tradition. Then use it again and again until you make it a habit and the easy change becomes your NEW Thanksgiving Day tradition.

Pick your poison:

  1. Will you join the turkey and stuff yourself?
  2. Are you able to completely avoid high sugar and high-fat foods and drinks?
  3. Or, maybe just dive right in then take tiny portions and eat it all?

Make the change:

  1. If you and the turkey are going down together then make it your last supper. Eat the one meal and immediately, stop there!
  2. Stripping down to the basics: turkey, green beans, sweet potato and a glass of wine or a small piece of dessert is an accomplishment on a day of gluttony. Once you prove to yourself you can get through the meal making choices and controlling what you eat, it will be easier going forward. There is no reason why you cannot do it again. Take pride in your decision and stick to your guns, you are stronger than you thought.
  3. Go ahead eat it all. As long as you are aware of the quantity of what you eat, you will be ok. Realize that too many tiny portions can add up to more than what you might have consumed had you just managed what you ate differently.

 Is Thanksgiving Day Rewarding When You Stuff Your Face?

Thanksgiving is typically a holiday where families gather together and overeat. But why? What is so rewarding about overeating? Whether you eat  1 or 4 portions, the last bite is still the last bite. Eat your fill and move on. Enjoy the company and time you spend with family as a way of distracting you. Instead of sitting around and stuffing your face, enlist the entire family to jointly volunteer. There’s nothing like doing positive activities with your family.   

Happy Thanksgiving Wrap up

Kick start the holidays on the right “weight control foot”. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. Why stuff your face and gobble up all the food around you?

The pilgrims and Indians ate traditional Thanksgiving meals containing fewer calories from added sugar and fat. If you want to eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal, try one that fits the original Thanksgiving Day fare. There are no calories, no guilt, no regrets when we volunteer to help one another; individually and together as a society.

“Pick your poison” then feast on the foods you choose.

But most of all, HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY! Enjoy your holiday and make it meaningful.

About the author

Valerie Goldstein

Valerie raises the bar for health and nutrition know how with unconventional expertise and unconditional support for wellness.