A Thanksgiving Compromise

So, my family has decided to come to our home to celebrate Thanksgiving, contingent on the request that it’s traditional food and not “healthy recipe crap.”

Honestly, I wasn’t planning to make “cauliflower mashed potatoes” or “almond flour stuffing” but I assured them that the food would be traditional, like our usual holiday meals, and asked them to help me create a list of the important dishes so I didn’t leave any out.

While my plan did not include healthy remakes of recipes, I was planning to limit the number of dishes I made, for example, only one style of potatoes instead of two and choosing between green bean or broccoli casserole, not both.  With my family joining us, I’ll take into account their favorites and make sure they’re on the table.

I chose to compromise because having my family at our first hosted Thanksgiving is important to me.  That social gathering and time together is more important than any food related goals I have.  This does not mean that I can’t make healthy choices, but I’ll go into that later.  You may also be asking, “Don’t you want your family to be healthy?  Why wouldn’t you encourage them to try a different, healthier dish?”  Here’s why.

This Thanksgiving is going to be different.  There are already changes in place.  This will be the first holiday without either of my grandparents.  The first Thanksgiving not at their house.  The first Thanksgiving not with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.  This year will be a big change.  For the last 30 years of my life, holidays have included the same traditions, same food, same people, and same location.

This change is going to be hard on everyone.  It will be different, and different is uncomfortable.  When I talk with people about making a change or starting a new habit, I ask them to think about something that seems easy and that they feel confident doing.  Once that’s a true habit, we’ll add another habit, again, something that seems like an easy change.  These gradual progressions could (and should) continue forever, but the changes should all be manageable and executed with confidence.

I know this Thanksgiving will be different.  Asking my family to try some new recipes or go without a food that holds good memories would be too much of a change.  Compromise is okay and I’m choosing to make our first hosted Thanksgiving a positive and memorable success.

As you enter the holiday season, ask yourself:

  1. What are my short term goals?  Narrow this down to the next few hours, event, or day.  Is it to enjoy time with family?  Is it to prioritize protein at meals?  Is it to take a walk daily?  Set behavior goals and hold yourself accountable.
  2. What are your long term goals?  These can be any length of time from a few weeks away to years away.  Do you plan to run a marathon next year?  Do you want to live a healthier lifestyle on a day to day basis?  Are you trying to lose or gain weight?  Keep this in mind and revisit question 1 to make sure your behavior goals are in line with your long term/outcome goals?

Once you’ve looked closely at both types of goals, make the decisions that are going to keep you happy, healthy, and guilt-free the next day.

A few tips:

-Try to avoid “banking” calories.  Starving yourself before the holiday meal will only contribute to reduced willpower, poor decisions, and damaged metabolism.  Eat portion-conscious meals at your normal meal times.

-If you’re concerned about overeating, use a smaller plate.  It is likely you will fill the plate you have so choose a small one.

-Use a smaller utensil for serving.  You’ll put less on your plate.

-Prioritize protein and healthy vegetables.  Put these on your plate first and eat these first.

-Eat until you’re 80% full.

-Choose the foods that you love.  If you’re not spending the other 364 days of the year waiting for your aunt’s pecan pie, then go without.  Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it.

-Wait at least 20 minutes before deciding if you want 2nd helpings.  Ask yourself, “On a scale of 1-5, how hungry am I?”  If it’s a 4 or 5, go ahead, in moderation.

-With the many events that may come up over the next few months, choose the important ones and the reasons you’re going.  If you don’t want to hang out with the people in your office, don’t go to the office party.  Or if you do, limit your time or eat before you go.  If the only reason you’re thinking of going to your friend’s party is because you haven’t seen them in a while, invite them over for dinner instead.  But if you live for the party-social interaction, go to the party, have fun, make decisions based on your behavior goals, and don’t have regrets in the morning.

-If it’s a potluck, make a dish you’ll be happy to eat and share with others.

-There’s no rule that says you can’t pack your own snacks.  If you’re worried about temptation, pack some snacks that will help curb your cravings and align with your goals.

The holidays are a time to appreciate family and friends, and there are increased temptations.  Revisit your goals frequently and remind yourself of what’s important to you.

Meal plans usually suck. Here are 6 better ways to transform your diet. — Blog – Precision Nutrition

Almost every client starts out asking for a meal plan. The only problem? Meal plans usually suck. Instead of considering yet another doomed eating regimen, check out these 6 ways to transform your diet in a sustainable way. ++++ “Do I get a meal plan?” This is the most common question we get from folks…

via Meal plans usually suck. Here are 6 better ways to transform your diet. — Blog – Precision Nutrition

Pumpkin Banana Oat Balls

These pumpkin banana oat balls are super easy and don’t even need to be baked!  Chill for a cold, soft treat or bake for a little crunch!  They’re perfect for a pre- or post- workout snack and can be packed for 0n-the-go.  One batch makes about 12 servings.

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*Almond flour can be subbed for coconut flour.

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Help! I can’t throw away food!

Today, as I browsed through Precision Nutrition’s Facebook page and blog, two things stood out to me.

This article by Krista Scott-Dixon: The Perfect Time

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Specifically, this part:

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And this post:

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So, both of these are true statements, and overcoming these limiting factors is not always easy either.  “Red light” or “trigger foods” are those foods that we cannot stop ourselves from eating in large, indulgent portions.  This could mean candy, doughnuts, cookies, beer….but it can refer to “healthy” foods too, maybe, handfuls of almonds.

Making sure these items are out of the house is key to success.  It doesn’t mean that you can NEVER have them again, but they’re not sitting next to you, tempting you, torturing you, and putting you through a stress that is not necessary.  But what about when they’re already in the house?  Yes, a kitchen overhaul is sometimes necessary.  This means going through everything in your kitchen and deciding what stays and what needs to go.  This can be a difficult process, but not everyone falls into this category either.

What about the people who have a couple of things in the house that are calling their name and they’re fighting against it because they just can’t bare to waste food or make themselves throw it out?  Maybe you’ve been in that position before.  “Well, it’s the last box of cookies I’ll buy and then I’ll focus on being healthy.”  But then somehow another box ends up in the pantry and the cycle starts over.  (And maybe you weren’t even the one to bring that second box in the house).

I cannot stand to waste food or throw it out.  Most of the time my kitchen stays fairly in order with the occasional “red light” foods slipping in every now and then.  But it doesn’t really call for a kitchen overhaul and it’s not enough food for me to bag up and take to a food pantry to donate.

So, those of us in the latter category: what do we do instead?  I’ve thought of some ideas:

Start by dividing the large quantity items into individually packaged, smaller quantities.

  1. Store these snack bags in a few locations (work, gym bag, car) so they’re not all accessible at once. This can deter you from giving in to that urge to “eat them all quickly so they’re gone fast!”
  2. Hand out the prepared snack bags to the homeless.  Nutrients are important for everyone and when you’re in need, food is food.  Keep the bagged snacks in the trunk of your car (where you can’t reach them when you’re driving).  
  3. Share the guilt with your co-workers or friends.  I really do mean this in the kindest way.  With the treats in small portions, your co-workers will feel less inclined to take as much as they want (potentially sabotaging their own health goals).

It’s important to remember that progress is progress and even making small, manageable changes will result in progress.  Comment below and share what you do to get rid of those “red light” foods and stay on track.