The air feels so fresh this time of year – it’s the perfect reminder of the fresh new beginning each year presents us with. As this year begins to wrap up, many of us may feel the holidays can be less than a rejuvenating time to the say the least. But they certainly can be a time to reinvent yourself. I would be honored to help you on that journey!
To that end, today I want to continue divulging my personal strategies for making a healthy Thanksgiving meal a time to celebrate the bounty of life. There is so much to be thankful for. And often we overlook the most important place to focus our gratitude which ultimately is ourselves. So this year, my suggestion is for you to take time for you. Pick and choose what feels good for you below and have a joyful holiday!
Thanksgiving Healthy Eating
1. Make a meal plan weeks in advance and place your online shopping orders in advance so all items not in available locally have time to arrive without delay (or additional holiday fees!) Example: I just love my tea seed oil. It provides healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and stands up to temperatures over 450 degrees, making it a sacred cooking oil in my house! I love the added polyphenols it adds and since Thanksgiving is a time where I love indulging in some of my favorite treats, having extra protection against cellular oxidation is a welcomed benefit! Here is my favorite product.
2. Plan a cooking schedule, so you know what needs to go in the oven at what time to make sure every dish gets their turn cooking without last minute hiccups. This way you rule out the possibility of eating your holiday meal at midnight!
3. Delegate to family and friends so you’re not left to make the entire meal. That’s not the only task you can help delegate. Other chores you can enlist help withL
o Setting the table (days in advance might I add!).
o Making sure the little people all have snacks prepared so they don’t get “hangry” and distract you or your guests with tantrums.
o Cleaning and organizing the house so you can focus on the cooking, hosting and relaxing part. Yes. I said relaxing! You know what I do? I offer local students the opportunity to make some extra holiday cash with cleaning and organizational work. It’s a win for everyone.
One of the things I hear women say the most around the holidays is that they feel out of control. I find that there is a lot of power in switching from a passive to designer mentality. I design how the day goes opposed to being a passive player in how the day unfolds. For example, just because you may be a guest, you don’t have to relinquish caring for yourself. Here some of my suggestions for taking back your holiday mentality, woman to woman :
1. If you are going to a gathering where you know there will be a lot of temptations, make sure you bring a dessert that you’ll love and can make a healthier version of. Try substituting sugary desserts with fruit based crisps that are naturally sweet, or try a healthy sugar substitute like monkfruit in your recipes. This will help you to avoid getting a sugar hangover.
2. Don’t deprive yourself either. Acknowledge that we are biologically wired to feel pleasure, just make wise choices like high quality dark chocolate or a glass of organic red wine. Not only do these provide pleasure, but they are a rich source of polyphenols that will help buffer any inflammation that gets triggered.
3. Use a variety of herbs and spices in dishes you make like ginger, garlic, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg in your dishes. The polyphenols that get delivered in these delicious packages are not only pleasurable to our senses, but offer protection against oxidation and inflammation.
4. Be daring and try substituting more obscure root vegetables like turnips or parsnips for a more traditional dish like mashed potatoes. Or, if you don’t want to go all the way, substitute half of the recipe with nutrient dense root veggies. That way you’ll still get the familiar delicious mashed potatoes, but you’ll also get a boost in nutrition .
5. Choose dark turkey meat if you can, it contains more nutrients than the white meat. Ounce for ounce, there’s twice the amount of iron and zinc in dark meat versus white meat. Dark meat also provides substantially more essential fatty acids, B vitamins, (especially B12) and it’s a better source of the relaxation mineral, magnesium. Who can’t use more relaxation around the holidays? And be sure to save the turkey carcass to make bone broth or turkey soup, so you can benefit from all of the minerals and fat that that the bones and marrow have to offer.
6. Skip the commercially – based salad dressings and sauces and opt instead to make your own, or choose a simple oil and vinegar based dressing with high quality olive or tea seed oil.
7. Aim for making half of your plate a variety of green vegetables like collards, salad, Brussels sprouts and green beans. A quarter can be protein and the other quarter starch. If you know that carbohydrates set off a cycle of neverending Thanksgiving eating, skip the starch altogether and add additional vegetables cooked in healthy fats (coconut, olive, tea seed or avocado oils are my top favorites).
8. My all time secret trick for surviving the beautiful but often overwhelmingl spread of rich indulgent food? My secret is to include a side dish of fermented vegetables or cultured cream to provide my microbiome with healthy bacteria thats help digests my Thanksgiving meal and makes more nutrients available to me. Most of the time when we overeat it’s because our body is searching for nutrients, not sugar. But because many holiday meals are laden withg excessive sweets, we don’t feel “full” until we have reached an uncomfortable point! But wen you feed your gut healthy bacteria, they feed you! Try including a coupe tablespoons live sauerkraut, or fermented beets this year and see how it feels. You can buy these foods in the refrigerated section of your local grocer.
Curious about other foodie tricks I keep handy in my kitchen? Look to this chart for some quick and simple ways you can boost your nutrition and decrease your cellular stress this Thanksgiving:
Instead of this…
100% grass fed cream
Substituting half the recipe with mashed cauliflower, parsnips or turnips
Low fat sour cream or cottage cheese
Full fat versions
Dishes that contain heartier, more nutrient dense grains like quinoa, wild rice or buckwheat
Commercial salad dressings or sauces
Simple oil and vinegar dressing with olive or tea seed oil
Incorporating these simple tips will provide your body with more nutrition, energy and tools to counteract any inflammation that may come along with the holiday stress. When your cells are happy and stress-free, you’re free to enjoy the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday!
May you have the happiest and healthiest holidays!