Whatever your personal feelings are about Thanksgiving, we know this one-day holiday is notorious for overeating and food-induced comas. I am not going to lecture you to lay off the stuffing or skip the dessert because 1) I am not the food police and 2) you are allowed to enjoy your favorite foods. But there are certainly different tips and tricks you can implement into the day to make sure you keep your body feeling good and nourished!
Commonly people skip breakfast the morning of Thanksgiving in order to “save room for later”. It is important to understand that our bodies do not work that way! If anything it leaves us feeling starved by the time the meal comes, which means we eat everything in sight – and way too much of it/too fast! And it leaves our blood sugars in terrible shape.
Think about it, we haven’t eaten all night while sleeping and then don’t eat for another 4-6 hours after waking up, that’s a lot of hours without food! It sends our blood sugars dropping which can cause symptoms like irritability, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and other annoying buzzkills to the day. Then we go eat our oversized Thanksgiving plate in under 15 minutes which causes a fast spike in blood sugars. Our blood sugars peak about 1.5-2.0 hours after eating our meal, now queue the (what seems like) obligatory nap! This pattern of very low sugar then a very speedy spike in high blood sugar tosses our bodies and hormones into a weird rollercoaster ride all day and leaves us not feeling our best.
By eating a nutrient-rich breakfast 3-6 hours before THE meal, you’ll be showing some major love to yourself! It sets your body up for stable blood sugars, stable energy levels, and stable hormone signaling. Ideally the meal would be protein, healthy fat, and a side of veggies or another fiber rich carb. And by eating a meal it can help tame that constant snacking that could otherwise takes place, which also causes weird spikes in insulin and blood sugar and leaves us feeling “empty” all day.
Keep breakfast super simple since you will most likely be cooking up a storm for a big portion of the day!
- Scrambled eggs + organic grass-fed ghee/butter + big handful of spinach and broccoli + salt, pepper, turmeric + small fruit or a cup of berries
- Fried eggs + organic grass-fed ghee/butter + salt, pepper, chili + 1/2 small avocado + sweet potato “toast” or toast of choice
- Chia seed pudding
- Tacos: tortillas + black beans + goat cheese crumbles + diced avocado + cilantro
- Breakfast salad: a big bowl of baby greens and arugula + 1/2 cup legumes or a small baked potato + protein + baby tomatoes + pesto or extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice + 1/4 cup of raw nuts or seeds
- Protein ideas: fried eggs, deli turkey slices, grilled chicken, edamame
- Full-fat yogurt of choice + 1/2 cup berries + 1-2 tbsp. chia seeds + 1/4 cup of almonds or cashews + cinnamon, nutmeg
- Smoothie/smoothie bowl
Move your body
If you know you are going to spend the majority of the afternoon and evening lounging around and relaxing in a sedentary state, take advantage of the morning to get some physical activity in. It can be done alone or with whoever you are spending the day with, inside or outside, so there are no excuses! By starting the day with exercise you are getting your body moving, your digestion going, and helping your body handle the blood sugar spikes later on.
Any type of yoga class
Local turkey day walk/run
Zumba or dance class
HIIT or interval workout
Cardio or kickboxing
Whether it is due to the eating, the talking, or the cooking – we tend to drink significantly less water than normal on Thanksgiving day. Being dehydrated can lead to constipation, increased hunger, and more cravings. If you feel thirsty, your skin is dry, or your urine is yellow/dark then you are dehydrated. The goal is for your urine to be pale yellow/clear and you should be drinking water steadily all day. Depending on your Thanksgiving crowd, there could also be lots of alcohol flowing – at minimum make sure you alternate alcohol and water intake to keep your hydration status up.
Use intuitive eating
If you are not familiar with the term “intuitive eating”, this is a very brief description: tuning in to your own body’s hunger cues and letting it guide your meal size, food choices, and when to start or stop your meal. In other words, rejecting all diet mentalities and listening to your internal messages and signs instead.
A great way to implement intuitive eating is by checking in with yourself halfway through the meal. You may think “I’m starting to fill up, maybe I should take a few minutes to take a break and then see how I feel” or maybe it’s “I’m still hungry I’m going to finish this whole plate”. Whether you finish the plate or not, it’s about taking notice of how hungry or full you feel throughout the meal so that you stop when you are satisfied and not just when you are going to burst or because your plate is clean!
I also encourage you to slow down because the meal and the good company isn’t going anywhere. Take your time to chew your food and savor the labor that went into it and try to make your meal extend at least 30 minutes! It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to even begin receiving signals from your digestive system that you are eating, so keep that in mind before you dig into second helpings 15 minutes into the meal.
Download this FREE ebook to by Meg Gerber, RD, LDN, IFNCP. It is gluten and dairy free, rich in plant foods, and low in added sugars. It makes your mouth water and gives you healthier versions of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes!
Ready for part 2 of a nourishing Thanksgiving series? Trust me, it’s a good one!