This week the conversation in my integrative nutrition practice revolves around what to eat for Thanksgiving, how to survive the family cooking marathon, etc. It is only interesting to see how the healthier my clients become, the more questions they ask around traditional holiday gatherings.
My take on health, diet and traditions (and one of the core teachings in my January Fit For Life 3 months group program) is that it is not traditional foods that make us fat and sick. It is modern foods, crafted in a factory or in a lab, using "pretend" food, rather than real food made from scratch with your own hands using farm to table ingredients.
In fact, I love Thanksgiving because it brings people back in the kitchen. It is one of the rare times during the year that busy professionals slow down, office shut down, and the family gathers in the kitchen to cook amazing meals and sit together around the table, the way my people, the French, love to do it:)
So by all mean, please cook and eat what your heart desires! And if you still feel a little guilty or anxious you may pack a few extra pounds, try to observe the following 5 tips to maintain your health during the Holiday:
1. Prepare and strengthen your digestive system before Thanksgiving to minimize digestive discomfort and weight gain by drinking 8-10 full glasses of good quality water a day starting with a full glass of lemon water when you wake up to flush your system; taking probiotics once or twice daily (eat fermented foods, probiotics supplements or Zenberry which is filled with probiotics); and taking a turmeric pill of 400mg after each meal. For every alcohol or caffeinated beverage consumed, drink 2 glasses of water.
2. Load up on vegetables and make them the star of every meal, they will crowd out other more calorie dense and less healthy foods. I recommend that at every meal, 1/2 of your food intake is made of leafy greens and your favorite seasonal vegetables like pumpkin, squash, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc. They are voluminous making you feel full, they contain water, fiber, and many essential micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals).
3. Steer clear of table sugar. Sugar is what makes us fat by triggering an insulin surge which stores sugar as triglycerides and keeps the fat stored. Sugar also makes us sick by increasing inflammation in our body which manifests in different ways for different people: inflammation of joints, brain, arteries, belly, digestive organs, etc. Sugar is also addictive. You cannot stop after eating just a little bit. So prepare all your favorite food with gentle sweeteners like raw honey, real Vermont maple syrup, molasses, brown rice or coconut syrup for instance.
4. Eat mindfully. Eating mindfully means knowing when you are eating, why you are eating and savoring the experience. This prevents over-eating, or snacking mindlessly. In fact, I recommend you do not snack as you prepare your Thanksgiving meal, but instead experience the anticipation and hunger build-up which makes the food taste so much more delicious. It becomes a deep sensory experience.
5. Exercise daily. In my family, the big traditional feasts are followed by a 90 minutes family walk (Picture 15-20 of us walking on a small country side road) in the cold, rain or shine. We leave the table right after the meal, without cleaning up and we clean up when we return, refreshed and awaken. Exercise every day next week and during your days off, exercise multiple times. Keep active to aid your digestion and burn some calories. Look on my Goji Fitness Youtube station for short bouts of exercise if you are pressed by time.
You can find this week's Pre-Thanksgiving Feeding Success menu HERE. It will help you prepare your digestive system using delicious seasonal foods.