Here we are. Thanksgiving 2K17, LET'S DO THIS.
Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday, trailing behind Christmas. My family and I don't pull out the fine china and eat by candlelight as we honor the tradition of going 'round the table 5 times over saying what we are grateful for (if those are your traditions, good for you. I admire your sophistication and grace). However, I will say that while our process doesn't include dining in a formal setting, it does involve complex components, each perfected after much experimentation and statistical analysis of data collection that has spanned across many generations of Sanders.
We do Thanksgiving less like Monica and more like Joey Tribbiani. Here's a tutorial of our process that you can do in the comfort of your own home:
Step 1: Saddle up in favorite sweatpants.
Step 2: Cook! That! Turkey! (Ty Pennington Extreme Home Makeover style)
Step 3: Begin the process of grazing.
Step 4: Burn the top of the marshmallows in the broiler on the sweet potato casserole.
Repeat steps 3 & 4 for another 7 to 8 hours.
You may be asking yourself,
"Lee Ann. Aren't you a seasoned fitness professional? Are you meaning to disclose to me that despite your gym-ratness and obnoxious love for exercise that you "saddle up" so-to-speak in your best over-sized athleisure to chow down?"
Hear me on this, acquiring six-pack abs doesn't make pecan pie taste any less delicious. We all have our emotional connections with food. Some are good for us, others bad, but regardless, I think an important part of being an educator in this industry is acknowledging the fact that food is much more than simply fuel.
All of that being said, I know that for a lot of us that have been working very hard to maintain and/or lose fat, cooking for Thanksgiving can present a difficult mental situation.
"I'll just save all of my calories for the day for dinner."
"I'll starve myself the day before"
"How do I make dinner healthier?"
"What if I gain weight?"
Sound familiar? If not, that's awesome, because you're spending your time in the moment versus wrapped up in macros. If you do worry about these things, it's okay. You're not alone. Let's ease your turkey day fears (well, when it comes to food at least...I don't know what to tell you to do about that one cousin who always asks how school is going..refer to the pie chart and pick an option).
Now that we've got THAT out of the way, let's talk about food at Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving lunch/linner/dinner is typically viewed as a "yellow" meal. Lots of good 'ole carbs. We also get a huge dose of sodium thanks to casseroles containing canned soups, sauces, and turkey/ham (if you brine and/or baste the turkey). It's likely that you already knew this, but this info is relevant in order to address and remedy the concerns listed above.
#1: Do NOT attempt to starve yourself and "save" all of your calories for dinner. This ALWAYS backfires in the form of overeating to the point that you feel like that girl on Willy Wonka who blew up like a balloon and had to be rolled out of the factory. PASS. Eat on your normal schedule, as best as possible. Choose healthy, balanced choices for meals other than thanksgiving dinner on the day of. Hydrate like crazy....with water. (:
#2 There are so many ways to make your Thanksgiving dinner better for your body without sacrificing flavor. A) Pick low-sodium or unsalted options for as many ingredients as you can, and add salt to taste. You'd be surprised how much sodium lurks in canned goods, and the thing is, it's more than enough. You only have so many taste buds, and 1000 mg of sodium may taste the exact same as 2500 mg of sodium....so why take the extra salt? You can always add salt, but you can't remove it. B) Remove excess fat when possible (drain the bacon before adding to green bean casserole, chose white meat instead of dark meat...or if you're like me and turkey is YOUR THING, go ahead and eat the dark meat. It's okay.) C) USE A PORTION GUIDE. This is extremely helpful in controlling your intake so that you don't wind up feeling sick. Turkey or ham should fit in the palm of your hand, about the size of a deck of cards. Casseroles, half a baseball sized. You may be thinking that these servings seem itty bitty, and they are compared to what we are used to seeing with our eyes on our plates, but these servings are actually the portions we should be eating of these foods, even though I know we are used to having more. Just give it a try when fixing up your plate. You may be surprised at how your tummy feels (in a positive way) by sticking to appropriate portions. D) Try not to drink your calories. I know you love your wine, and Lort I know you love it even more when Aunt and Uncle Smith roll into your crib, but take a deep breath, try to relax, and know that it's ONE DAY. If Britney Spears can survive 2007, you can survive Thanksgiving.
#3 YAH THAT WHOLE PORTION CONTROL THING DIDN'T WORK. I LOVE PIE TOO MUCH. I GOT ON THE SCALE AND I GAINED 4 POUNDS. I QUIT. Hey, this is a lot of us. It's okay. And no, you didn't gain 4 pounds. And double no, you're not quitting. I won't let you.
Let's take a left turn for a second and do some basic math.
There are 3500 calories in one pound of fat. Therefore, 3500 X 4 pounds = 14,000 calories. In order for you to theoretically gain 4 pounds of fat in one day, you'd have to consume 14,000 calories IN ADDITION to the number of calories you eat on any other normal day (most of us, that's 1500-2200). THINK ABOUT THAT. Eating over 14,000 calories in a single day would likely put most of us in the emergency room.
Alright, so if I didn't eat 14,000 calories, then why does my scale say I did? First of all, scales are stupid and should be outlawed. I know you already know this. Your weight spikes after eating meals similar to those at Thanksgiving because of two reasons:
Remember how we talked about a mile back about how Thanksgiving meals are rich in sodium and carbohydrates? Both of these factors cause the human body to retain water when consumed (usually in excess). Every 1 gram of carbohydrate causes your body to retain 3 grams of water. Woah. This is why many of my clients call me in a panic to report overnight weight gains. Most often the culprit is 1) hormones 2) salt and/or 3) carbohydrate rich meals (ladies, often for us we get all three of these at the same time. This is why your weight can be all Jekyll and Hyde during the menstrual cycle).
Drink as much water as you can.
Laugh and tell stories with your family.
Go outside and walk while the Turkey cooks.
Eat your pie.
Watch your football.
Enjoy your life.
You are loved. Happy Thanksgiving, Friend.
Turkey or bust,
P.S. The next time I see one of those fitness ads that tells me how many miles I have to run in order to burn off 2 pieces of pumpkin pie, I'm gonna run....right to that ad agency with some pie cause clearly you need some positivity in yo' life.