Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

One way to do this holiday is to try altering your favorite recipes just a tad to make them more diet friendly: Replace your roasted, stuffed turkey with poached, skinless, boneless turkey breast. Steamed green beans, served dry, please. Instead of mashed potatoes, try acorn squash baked without butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon will help it go down, as long as you’re drinking plenty of water, which you’ve traded for the wine. Don’t forget to cut out the salt too. There’s a recipe floating about for a crustless pumpkin “pie” made with imitation eggs and imitation sugar, which you can top with imitation, low-carb whipped cr–topping. Please enjoy all the lettuce and black coffee you want.

Or you could give it a break, already.

If you’re trying to drive your family away forever, this isn’t a bad menu. But I happen to think the holiday table is no place for diet food, and a family gathering is no place for punishment. (At least not self-imposed punishment.) Call me a rebel.

If there’s no room in your diet program for your traditional family holiday foods, then you may want to think through the wisdom of your program. I hope you’ve chosen a means of weight loss that is designed for life-long weight maintenance.

Maintainers know that holidays happen. Particularly, Thanksgiving happens. Nearly every year around this time. It’s fairly predictable, and because it is, we can think through its effects on our weight loss and weight maintenance efforts, do a little planning, and skate through it with the most modest of weight gain, if any.

What you need is to can the fear, and develop a strategy or two. Here are some ideas:

If You are Hosting:
Cook the bird, and have guests bring everything else. Arm yourself with large carry-out containers, and after the meal, while you are very full, divide up the leftovers to send home with your guests. Leave nothing but a carcass for you to cope with.

Be ruthless, and employ help from an immediate household member who is hip to your strategy if you’re having a hard time sending the pecan pie away at the end of the meal.

If your family insists on keeping the leftovers around, then put them in charge of storing them in opaque containers toward the back of your fridge. Make a deal with yourself and with them that you are not going to eat leftovers that are not on your eating plan, and that the opaque containers will be emptied by your family by the end of the week. The deal is, you don’t have to touch them. Your deal with yourself: don’t touch them.

Organize some activity for after dinner. House trimming, tree trimming, walking, a game, a scavenger hunt, the last of the leaf collection, serving dinner at a shelter, taking dinner to someone who’s shut in, a craft project to get a jump start on holiday gifts, a gift-wrap decorating bee, something that will remove people from the kitchen and the food.

If You are Not Hosting:
Sleep in that morning. Why not? When you wake, have oatmeal for breakfast with non-fat milk and a half a mashed banana. For most people, that will stick until dinner.

Offer to bring a tossed salad of baby organic greens, and a roasted vegetable dish. Eat these first from the foods on your plate. Then eat the turkey. Then sit for 10 minutes sipping water. Then eat a forkful or two of anything else your heart desires. Have a whole dessert if you want it. Enjoy everything about it. The smell, the texture, the flavor. Compliment the cooks. Revel in your meal. Just stop when you’re full.

When you’re full, leave the table and the kitchen. Take your water or wine or coffee and go enjoy the company in a room away from food. If there is such a thing. Enlist family or friends in a nature walk as soon as people are comfortable enough to move. Touch football? Don’t volunteer to do the dishes. Don’t hang around, picking at the dessert dishes.

Refuse leftovers politely but firmly. If your family wants turkey sandwiches, then roast a small turkey of your own the next morning at home. No means no. Offering to take home just a little turkey will leave you with just a little of everything else too. I know. I deploy this means to rid my house of food all the time. (See ‘If You Are Hosting’ above.)

For either strategy, if you eat early, have a nice homemade soup or chili on hand for a light, low-calorie evening meal. It’ll be fewer calories and more nutrition than a second slice of pie. Remember the pie fondly, eat the soup.

I hope you’ll enjoy your holiday meal. Remember it’s there for your reflection and rejuvenation, not for stress, guilt, or fear (of food).

Do you have more holiday meal strategies to share? Tell us all about it below, because all of us are a lot smarter than just one of us.

14 thoughts on “A Meal to Be Thankful For

  1. JuJu says:

    I should add that I am very thankful for all of you who check in here and add so much wisdom, grace, help, and humor. I’m honored that you read this stuff, and that you take the time. I’m glad if/when its helpful.

    Thanks, too, to those of you who have written recenty, worried about me and about SDP. Yes, my postings have run a little — thin? (hee!) — lately. I am challenged with more than a few health problems in my family these days. (My own health is good!)

    But, because I’m thinking about you just always, I have big changes in store for 2005. More postings, making SDP even more useful to more people. But I’m not going to tip my hand. You’ll hear all about it round about New Year’s.

    Blessings from my house to yours.

    JuJu

  2. Tortoise123 says:

    Another winner! I was reading the first part and I said “Oh, that doesn’t sound like our JuJu!” Then I caught on to the joke.

    I’ll just add one tip. I volunteer to make a dessert, and bring one that is delicious but less sinful than the other options. I eat that, and see that the rest gets sent home with others! Sometimes I bring a nice platter of nuts and grapes and clementines, too.

  3. metamorpheus says:

    I love it! A battle plan for Thanksgiving Day! I feel better about this week already! This post will travel with me in my back pocket on Thanksgiving Day.

    I already took matters into my own hands for the big meal on Thursday. My sister is hosting the big meal and I offered to bring a dessert as many other family members usually do. I offered to get the killer chocolate layer cake from our famous local dessert place. This is the cake that shows up on all the Best of lists. My sister loved the idea.

    A day later I called her back and told her I will crumble at the sight of chocolate cake on the dessert table. She laughed, I laughed. I then told her I was bringing a fresh bowl of fruit salad. Again, she loved the idea.

    Now, whether or not I can resist the other sweets, pies, etc., remains to be seen. But at least I have a healthy choice during a very dangerous time for me.

    Juju,
    All the best to you and your family on Thanksgiving Day!

  4. amymbee says:

    I need to read this everyday until Thanksgiving, and maybe this year I can go to bed with out being upset with myself! One of the things I am going to do is have a cup of hot tea with my meal….it really helps me slow down!

  5. Mercury says:

    YMMV with this strategy – I don’t eat anything all day until Thanksgiving dinner. I usually cook a few desserts, so I’m on my feet until dinner, and I help with the dishes, so I’m on my feet afterwards. Lots of jogging on the days before and after. I usually lose a few pounds this week!

  6. Nneka says:

    Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for the tips. How common sense and non-over-the-edge either way.

    One question, “What to do if you go away?”

  7. Polly says:

    One strategy not mentioned above is my food karma strategy. Starting a few weeks before Halloween, I start exercising more than average to earn “food karma”. Since I’m pretty lazy about going to the gym, increasing my amount of exercise isn’t too difficult. I love the holidays and I love food so I’m preparing for the time of year when there’s a little more food than average by working out a litte more. If I’m lucky I’ll drop a couple of pounds from the additional exercise just in time to gain it back from the holiday festivities.

    This is a great option for those weak in the will power department when offered pie and stuffing.

  8. rebeka says:

    I am lucky enough that I live in Australia and don’t have to deal with my mother’s big Thanksgiving dinner. But I will be making one of my own to share with my Aussie family. I enjoy everything you write and appreciate the tips

  9. Marla says:

    All the suggestions are so good! I’m going to remember them all. I think the biggest help, to me, is making Thanksgiving last only one day. Only one meal, in fact. A lot of the tips are about how to do that, and I love the idea because then you DO get to eat the yummy stuff, you DO get to enjoy, it just doesn’t go too far.

  10. Lee says:

    I loved this. Because you are absolutely right … Holidays Happen!

    My plan is the same as every year. I’ll eat small portions of everything I want. I’ll even have an entire serving of dessert. I’ll savor each and every bite and soak in the smells and texture. I’ll sip my water and step away from the plate when I am full.

    After eating, the hubby and I always take the kids (there’s usually about ten or twelve of them) for a long hike in the woods. We don’t break any speed records and we don’t worry about getting the heartrate up. But we are out there moving. And man, does it ever do the body (and soul) good.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  11. jappy says:

    Wonderful again! Thanks!

  12. Quinn says:

    Another excellent article from our beloved JuJu! 🙂

    Many thanks to you. May you have a lovely Thanksgiving!

  13. DeAnn says:

    Your first paragraph was starting to scare me. It’s a good thing I read on.

    I completely didn’t behave diet-wise today, but it’s THANKSGIVING. There is more to life than losing weight and this is one day that I just let myself enjoy the company of people I love, and the food that we all cooked together and will share together!

  14. LeAnne says:

    I agree with you here. I’ve lost 116 pounds myself, but I always allow myself to have what I want on Thanksgiving and I’ll do the same on Christmas day.

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