Friday, November 20, 2015

Enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday! (Skip the Guilt)

Thanksgiving is right around the corner - it's time for planning the meal, cleaning the house, getting ready for guests to visit, and mentally preparing yourself for the craziness that can be during time with family :)

All over the interwebs these days are tips on how to survive the next month or so without gaining the dreaded holiday pounds. While a lot of that is good stuff, I like to think about it a little differently.

If we back up a little and make sure to keep things in perspective, think about this question: What does Thanksgiving mean to you? For me, it's about spending time with friends and family, enjoying each others company, and yes, eating some of those special dishes that just mean Thanksgiving (my favs are my Mom's dressing/stuffing, homemade bread with butter, and roasted root vegetables - YUM! and Hello carbs! ha).

Here are some ideas to help you enjoy the holiday without regret or guilt:
  • Start the day with a walk or run.  There Turkey Trots scheduled all over, but if there aren't any in your area, or if that's just not your thing, just get outside and walk around your neighborhood. Even better, recruit friends or family to do it with you!  Fresh air is a great way to start the day, and getting a little exercise will help you be ready for the day, both physically and emotionally.
  • Take time out to really pay attention to those you're spending time with. Think about their life and what they're doing, and then ask them specific questions about how they are doing or what is going on in their lives.  Really listen to what they are saying.  So often, we just have the same old conversations - "What's new?" "Nothing much" etc. You'll be surprised what you might find out if you actually have a meaningful conversation. 
  • Typically, when family gets together, there's going to be some drama, or some underlying potential drama. You know what I mean. Mom always asks when you're going to get married already, Uncle Sam drinks too much punch and says embarrassing things,  Aunt Hazel gets emotional and cries by the end of the day... whatever it is for your family.  Instead of letting that type of drama get to you, go into the day understanding that this is who your family is.  You aren't going to change them, so just accept it, and don't be surprised by it.  Relax, observe it, and don't let it impact your mood/day (and if in doubt, just breathe!).
  • When time comes for the big meal, fully enjoy the foods that you love!  Take some of that dressing, or pecan pie, whatever is your favorite, and mindfully enjoy each bite!  
  • During the meal, be mindful of how you feel.  You don't have to eat seconds or thirds of everything, as most likely there will be leftovers.  And if you're really paying attention, the second serving isn't usually as good as the first (kind of like the law of diminishing returns).  If the meal isn't at your house and you really want to have leftovers of a certain item, just ask!  Most host/hostesses are more than happy to send extras home with you - less for them to have on hand the next day.
  • If you are blessed to have leftovers - don't just eat them because they are there.  If you want them, by all means, eat them and enjoy them.  If you're getting burned out on them, share them with others or re-purpose them into something else:
    • Turkey and vegetables can be used to make a delicious soup - and who doesn't like soup these days when it's chilly outside?!
    • Make a Shepard's Pie - there are a bunch of recipes on Pinterest, but you can use turkey, leftover vegetables, mashed potatoes, etc.
    • If in doubt, most things can be frozen for another day - think of how nice it would be to have some of those meal items during December when things are really busy. Or even January, when you have winter doldrums and some reminders of the holiday would be welcomed
Most importantly, remember that this time of year is about being thankful for the people and experiences you have in your life.  The meal itself is secondary.  So enjoy your time with friends and family, and be thankful for the time you have together.

What are you most looking forward to during this Thanksgiving holiday?    Please share in the comments. 

Have a great week! :)

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