and it’s the Eve of Thanksgiving. Year after year we are frightened by the idea of this so-called “holiday weight” we might put on. As a Registered Dietitian I get asked countless times “what should I eat for Thanksgiving and the holidays?”
My simple answer, “whatever you want!”
Whoa, is this guy crazy! What kind of Dietitian are you?
Let’s rewind a bit. I am a firm believer in healthy eating. Day in and day out we should try our best to positively impact our health by eating healthy foods and moving our bodies. Maybe you are someone with a specific goal, say weight loss, then these decisions to eat healthy and exercise become even more important.
Let’s not lose sight of a few things. Food is more than just counting calories, making the healthiest of healthy decisions, and being solely goal oriented.
Food is many things. Food is cultural. Food is religious. Food is social. Food is eating that Cuban sandwich and thinking about how much your grandfather use to enjoy these!
Food is interwoven in every fabric of our lives; its not just preeminent health decisions and weight loss. The holidays are a time where we gather with loved ones, take part in social constructs that we look forward to. Stuffing on Thanksgiving, pernil on Christmas Eve, eggnog and wine. Whatever your preference, it has become a preference because we hold these traditions near and dear to our hearts. When someone is following a strict diet that does not allow for you to partake in these kinds of moments, I ask is that even worth it?
Here comes the second BUT!
Let’s also remember that the holidays are simply a few days over an extended period of time. The days of celebration are less frequent than once a week and may be even as infrequent as once every three or four weeks. One meal every few weeks will not detour you from being healthy or even weight loss. However, Thanksgiving dinner turning into a 4 day binge fest can.
My biggest tip for serving the holidays is not limiting what you eat on the actual day, it’s staying healthy the days before and the days after.
I plan on eating more carbs tomorrow than I will probably the subsequent week, but I also plan on getting back to my regularly scheduled program Friday, Saturday, Sunday and onwards.
One exception to this rule, medical conditions.
If you have a medical condition, such as chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes or anything else with medical nutrition limitations, please make sure you consider you health first before jeapardizing it for a single meal. Emergency dialysis is up the day after Thanksgiving year after year due to excess intake of sodium, protein, potassium and phosphorus, so please help lower that statistic by considering your health as a priority.
I am not saying you have to overeat or pass on the vegetables at Thanksgiving dinner. But I am also excited to hear what is your favorite food and what did you enjoy the most! I hate having to preface that questions by saying “and it doesn’t have to be something healthy.” Food is a lot of things, but stressing over food is something we should never do!