Thanksgiving plan of attack
Thanksgiving is finally in front of us, and you might be asking yourself “Why is Erin bringing
this up on Tuesday and not on Thursday?”. Super valid question, young Jedi (getting excited at
our house for The Last Jedi, life with an 8 year old boy will do that to you). The goal of
Thanksgiving dinner is to enjoy yourself, to not feel deprived and to eat as close to your normal
food as possible, as to not disrupt our road to health. I do not advocate having an all day food
crawl, nor do I suggest sitting in front of your family picking at a sad lettuce leaf and a diet
frozen meal. To feel your best on Friday morning, I recommend you eat as close as possible to
your regular diet, and a planned splurge.
Let’s break down the meal that is the traditional Thanksgiving, I have taken out the turkey as it is
relatively harmless as long as you don’t eat just the skin.
• Sweet potatoes
• Mashed potatoes
• Cranberry sauce
• Oyster Stuffing
• Cornbread Stuffing
• Pumpkin pie
• Pecan pie
• Whipped cream
Tradition has not dictated the beverages or the appetizers, so those are two areas where we can
swap in healthy choices. Crudite is always a welcome addition to starter menu, and sparkling
water is a great, yet festive way to not load up on sugar and calories before the meal even starts.
Of course, if you load up on a cheese ball, crackers and a giant dirty martini then, I can’t really
help you as they aren’t part of the traditional meal, and for our purposes, I can not predict the
variations in every house across the land.
Look over the menu, did I forget something your family always has? If so, you need to mentally
add it back in. Pick one thing on an entire day you must have. The one food you need to have or
else it is not Thanksgiving, and do not worry about the sugar, carbs or anything else. Your must
have list ( I am borrowing my client Victoria’s with her permission)
1. Mom’s yams
Now, list the other dishes in order of importance to you.
2. sweet potato casserole
3. Pumpkin Pie
4. Cornbread stuffing
Finally the dishes you do not care about at all
• Mashed potatoes
• Cranberry sauce
• Pecan Pie
• Oyster Stuffing
Note these aren’t numbered because you aren’t going to eat them, so who cares??
Victoria prioritizes her Mom’s yams over the pies and stuffing. That is ok, however, I do not want
her to have the other fast-acting carbohydrates on her list as they will absolutely do a number on
her blood sugar and digestion. Victoria’s plate will look like this
25% Mom’s Yams
40% Green Vegetable
Kale Salad on the side
WAIT!! Where did the salad and the green vegetable come from? Victoria will bring them. She
spoke to her Mom earlier in the week and told her what she wants to bring. No one really cares if
you bring additional dishes to Thanksgiving as long as you don’t make a big production about it.
If they do, then you don’t want to be there anyway. Taking care of ourselves doesn’t take
Holidays. Let me say this another way: Victoria nicely, yet firmly telling her Mom she needed to
bring broccoli and a big kale salad to the dinner is her practicing self-care. So Victoria has what
she needs. Thanksgiving dinner is not the time to tell everyone about how amazing I am, tout the
benefits of “Why Can’t I Stick To My Diet” and how what they are about to eat is a bad idea. As
much as I appreciate a word of mouth referral, it can wait until after everyone gets up from the
Victoria will take a serving she is comfortable with of her Mom’s famous yams. I do not
recommend getting out a measuring cup, but it is her call. I suggested doubling up on the
vegetables and the salad because they are wonderful for us and fiber is always a good thing.
In addition, if Victoria was to get into an uncomfortable discussion with relatives over dinner, I
would want her to immediately put DOWN THE FORK. When we are tense or experiencing any
extreme feeling, we do not digest our food properly. We can not taste it as well as when we are
calm. As much as Victoria was looking forward to her Mother’s famous yams if she was to get a
disagreement with her bossy older sister about why she had to bring a kale salad to the meal, she
should put down her fork and argue with her sister if she felt the need. Do one or the other. Either
eat the yams or argue with the bossy older sister. Do not do both, the energy of the yams will be
off, and they will not taste like she remembered and taking the time to make a priority list with
me will be wasted due to a long-standing sibling rivalry.
Victoria has chosen her choice with the yams and now I want her to chose when she eats them
and protect the choice. Now, let’s assume she ignores the sisters first attempt at bating her and
she eats her dinner, halfway through Victoria will ask herself
“Do I still want this?”
Victoria will be noting how everything tastes, smells, how she feels eating it. Is she getting close
to being full?Is her body sending her a message her mind cannot receive because she is not
listening? or is she able to enjoy herself?
When Victoria is done eating, she is done. She didn’t choose pie, as she doesn’t particularly like it.
When it comes time for dessert, she will go and get a big mug of hot water with lemon and enjoy
the company of her family. She doesn’t feel deprived or overly stuffed. Her Uncle Fred will make
his usual joke “I am thankful my pants didn’t break this year” that he has made every
Thanksgiving since the dawn of time. Uncle Fred’s wife will laugh and roll her eyes as he pats
his bloated stomach, then goes and takes his usual post-meal nap.
Friday morning comes and Victoria will get up at her Mom’s and go to the gym. She will take a
Spin Class, not because she is in binge recovery mode, but because she likes them. Later on that
afternoon, she doesn’t feel the need for a nap as she slept great the night before, so she sits with
her 12-year-old niece, Emma and they talk over a jigsaw puzzle.
Now, Victoria’s planned success will not have just happened. How often do we just wander into a
significant victory? The overused, yet powerful saying “When we Fail to Plan, we Plan to Fail”
is relevant if you want to feel fabulous Friday morning. The alternative is to do it like you have
in previous years, now where has that gotten you? Have you been like Uncle Fred where you go
into a food coma?
When we know better, we should do better. I want everyone to feel great so plan your splurge by
making a plan. If you have any questions or don’t exactly understand how to prioritize, feel free
to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tomorrow, How to be thankful when things are well sucky….