Do you spend Thanksgiving morning looking forward to the food, only to spend Thanksgiving evening regretting how much you ate? If you’re like most people, this holiday is all about the meal (okay, and maybe a little football too!).
This year, I’m trying a new tactic. I’m spending Thanksgiving thinking, really thinking, about how grateful I am—grateful for my health, for having delicious and nutritious food available to me, for the knowledge and ability to make healthy choices, for having loved ones to share it with, and for this wonderful job that allows me to share it all with you and hopefully make a small difference in the choices you make.
In order to maintain this attitude of gratitude when staring down the bird, I’ve begun practicing mindful eating. Mindful eating arose from Buddhist teachings and involves using all of the senses to eat. For more tips on eating mindfully, check out this handy chart.
Try these other tips to ensure you eat more slowly and avoid the overstuffed post-meal stupor:
- Have a light meal 3-4 hours before Thanksgiving dinner so you’re not famished once the meal is served.
- Use your non-dominant hand to eat, which slows you down and, when snacking, can reduce your overall intake by 30%.
- Put your fork down between bites, while you chew.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before the meal and take sips between bites.
This is arguably the most memorable meal of the year—why not spend it truly focusing on the flavors and texture of the foods instead of seeing how quickly you can reach for seconds?
Think about the traditions and family members that have led to each dish finding its way to your table. Think about how the food is nourishing your body. Eat until you are comfortably full, then stop. You can always have leftovers for lunch the next day. And throughout it all, be grateful for this day that brings together family and friends over one delicious meal.
Tracy Severson, R.D., L.D., is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.