Upgrade Your Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving can be a tough time to be focused on health and nutrition. Especially when your grandma brings her famous chocolate cake or an enormous box of After Eights (they're not even that good, but once I start I can't stop!).
Even without those added temptations, the stuff that you might think adds nutrition to your plate is often only adding bloat to your belly! Did you know most cranberry sauces are made with cups of white sugar and often an added dose of conventional orange juice (which just means MORE SUGAR!).
The average American may consume as much as 4,500 calories at a Thanksgiving Feast. I'm not one for counting calories, but that's excessive by anyone's standards... except maybe Michael Phelps.
Now, I am all for enjoying the holidays! By all means, have a slice of pumpkin pie and dear god, please enjoy that cranberry sauce. I'll just suggest a few things for making the day a little less problematic for your health, a little bit more nutritious, and I promise... I'm not taking away ANY of the flavour!
If you don't want to try making anything different but maybe just want a few ways to avoid going completely overboard with what's being served up and getting stuck with a bloated belly before you even hit dessert. Here are a few steps you can take:
1) Don't wear your yoga pants
Sounds silly, but if you're wearing pants that will stretch with your bloating stomach throughout the day, you might not notice how much your tummy is hating you until it's too late and you have to spend the rest of the night in the bathroom instead of hanging out with your family & friends. Wear the tightest jeans you own. Trust me. You won't feel like eating all that much more when your buckle starts digging in.
2) Skip that appetizers
Unless these are your favourite part of the day or it's just a straight up veggie tray... skip it! It's usually just cheese and crackers or some weird deviled egg your aunt made. You can have those any day! Save room for the real feast! This step can make a huge difference because the appetizers tend to be out and about when it's just mingling time with socially awkward family members and nothing makes you reach for those crackers more than having nothing to say and just needing to keep your mouth busy. Make it a rule, and sip on some water with lemon to avoid talking. Which brings me to my next suggestion!
3) Sip water & lemon and... if you can handle it... some good ol' apple cider vinegar!
Sipping on lemon water during the cocktail hour will provide your body with some of the added minerals needed for digestion and will provoke your body's natural digestive juices. Even more effective? Straight up apple cider vinegar right before your meal. Same concept, but double the power! The apple cider vinegar kickstarts your digestive system in a big way, provoking the production of stomach acid, bile and enzymes to help you take down that turkey! If it's too much on it's own, throw the ACV in your water and chug it!
4) Avoid liquids with dinner.
You've already had a bunch of lemon water! Avoiding drinking anything with dinner... even water! Drinking liquids with a meal will actually start to dilute those digestive juices you've worked so hard to get going and can inhibit the overall digestion of your food. This step will help you beat the bloat! Don't worry... there will be plenty of wine left over after dinner!
This is the toughest step for most people. Fill the plate! That is fine. Get a little bit of everything. Enjoy the tastes of the season and the comfort of Mum's home cooking! Just try to keep it to one plate, and if can't carry your plate from the counter to the table without your dinner roll falling off... it might be a tad much.
Ok.. yea... that was a bad one. Sorry! But the sentiment is real. Skip the coffee or espresso after your meal. I know it can be tough when you've just stuffed yourself with turkey, full of tryptophan (the amino acid we use to make melatonin - our sleepy time neurotransmitter!), but you want to stay awake for the late night family poker tournament... or whatever normal family's do. However, the caffeine will not only neutralize stomach acid, impeding your ability to break down your food, but it may also cause a premature opening of the pyloric sphincter (the little valve at the bottom of your stomach that releases it's contents into your intestines). When this happens, all that food you enjoyed finds it's way into your intestines, undigested where your body cannot break it down as effectively. This leads to a lack of absorption of the nutrients, but also invites the possibility for that food to sit there and ferment. When something ferments, it produces gas and... well... we've smelled the end of that story.
I hope those tips help you to navigate your thanksgiving dinner and make a few small changes so that your tummy loves you a little more at the end of the day!
If you are someone who wants to try and switch things up and play with new recipes, here is one that might work for you!
This recipe puts portion control into your own hands, one roll is more than enough for each guest! It adds a nutritious, gluten-free stuffing to give you a punch of flavour, without the added carbohydrates and.... whatever else they put in traditional stuffing these days... I actually don't know but I'm pretty sure it's not as good for you as spinach and goat cheese. It also features a delicious cranberry sauce that uses a reasonable portion of raw honey for a little bit of added sweetness from a whole food!
For most people, goats cheese is easier to digest that cow's, but if you are unable to do dairy at all, I recommend throwing a mixture of your favourite nuts & seeds into a food processor (its really nice with walnuts and pecans) until it makes a nice paste - almost a nut butter! - and use that in place of the cheese!
It might not be a giant bird on a plate, but it is turkey, it is stuffed and there is cranberry sauce. This satisfies my family!
For some familiar sides I'll throw in some mashed sweet potatoes. I toss in a hint - just a hint! - of maple syrup and cinnamon to make it a bit more fun! PLUS I use Ceylon cinnamon which will help keep my family's blood sugar as balanced as possible... even if they reach for a the not so holistic dessert that grandma brings. I'll also do up veggies galore of course! Filling up the plate with mostly vegetables will fill you up before you can manage to get down dessert! I'll roast carrots, brussels sprouts, green beans and even peas & corn for my brother who refuses to eat any other kind of vegetable. I just make sure to keep the corn organic (otherwise it's the king of GMO's).
Whatever you do, enjoy this holiday. Reflect on all you have, love the ones your with and give thanks.
In that spirit, I'd like to thank you so much for reading this blog and staying engaged with The Realistic Holistic community. I hope you got something out of this post.
Keep it real!