You can enjoy the holiday without feeling crummy afterward (unless the food coma is all part of the experience for you - then you do you!) These tips will help you feel your best physically but also emotionally, because both are important for having an enjoyable holiday.
Eat regular meals before you go.
The idea of “saving your appetite” for a huge meal later that day isn’t a great one. By not eating for the majority of the day, you’re setting yourself up for a blood sugar disaster (read: hanger). Instead of saving your appetite, make sure to prioritize a good breakfast with protein, fiber, and some sort of healthy fat.
If you have allergies, come prepared.
The best way to go about this on a holiday is to offer to bring something to share. Either make a filling side so that you know you won’t be hungry or make your favorite part of the meal (or just an allergy-free alternative to serve alongside the other), with permission from the host. That way, you don't have to miss out, and you certainly don’t have to risk a reaction. If dessert is your favorite part of thanksgiving but you don’t tolerate gluten, offer to bring one to share. Filling sides might include a sweet potato dish or hearty salad. This goes for sensitivities, too!
Fill half your plate with colorful vegetables.
Prioritizing colorful, non-starchy vegetables keeps the caloric intake lower. Not that we’re concerned with calories here, but too much too fast will leave you feeling bloated, heavy, and tired. Non-starchy vegetables include foods such as broccoli, green beans, leafy greens, and brussels sprouts. Are you saying there aren’t any colorful vegetables at your family’s thanksgiving? Sounds like a great opportunity to offer to bring something to share!
If you’re cooking…
Include something steamed and seasoned lightly with lemon juice and spices to complement an otherwise heavy meal! You can see more tips for making thanksgiving a little healthier in this blog.
Sip on ginger tea when you get home.
Ginger accelerates gastric emptying, which means it helps your gut keep things moving along (and we all need a little help with that after a big meal). It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can be helpful after a day of alcohol and sugary desserts. To make it, you can peel a piece of ginger root and thinly slice about 1/2-1” of it into hot water. Lemon juice and turmeric (either ground or fresh) would also be a great addition to soothe your digestive system and reduce inflammation.
Consider your mindset.
If your emotions are the aspect keeping you from feeling your best on Thanksgiving (and around the holidays), you’re not alone. Food is our locus of control, so it makes sense that we might feel a little off kilter and even experience food guilt when we start attending meals made by others. Much of this stems from our tendency to label foods “good” and “bad,” and breaking away from this mindset can be difficult. In this situation, it’s important to realize that all foods in moderation can be part of a healthy diet. And of course, learning to forgive and show compassion for yourself is a valuable skill.