Well, it’s almost here.
Look, this isn’t a holiday where you’re likely going to be winning any awards for clean eating – and that’s ok. Even my doc, Mark Hyman, tells me that if I’m good 90%+ of the time, my body will feel better – and he’s right.
The last thing many of us need – whether from being with family or because we have to work – is more stress. So spending the day obsessing over what you should and shouldn’t eat from the smorgasboard isn’t a good use of your time.
All that said, if you’re looking for a few tips for how to be healthier during the holiday week, here are a few of my faves:
- Double down on water: Remember the Jetson rule – drink half your body weight in water, in ounces, per day (if you’re 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces of water). At Thanksgiving, go bonkers because of all the sodium-rich foods and alcohol you may be consuming.
- Don’t fear the veggies: Aim for half your plate to be non-starchy veggies (no, mashed potatoes don’t count). If you are on veggie duty (as we often are as my wife is vegan), try dishes with Brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, bell peppers – or even make a killer, herby green salad. If you must have something like a green bean casserole or else Uncle Tim will lose his mind, you can try swapping it out for green beans with red pepper flakes and garlic and see if he notices after his third beer.
- Get crafty with the potatoes: Potatoes are the earth’s way of telling us it loves us because they can be the best tasting things on the planet – but they aren’t all that good for you. My mom makes the most killer potatoes – but they are also loaded up with stuff I don’t eat. This year, try and make pureed cauliflower and see who notices. The cruciferous vegetable has six times the vitamin C, double the fiber, and almost 2x the potassium of nature’s original addictive food.
- Start small, and go for seconds: I know, you’re worried Uncle Tim (again) will take all the stuffing, so you pile up your plate on the first go to make sure you get yours. Trust me, there is always more stuffing than you think there will be. So instead of making Frankenplate, go for a smaller one, loaded with veggies and light-meat turkey first, eat it with a nice glass of wine, and then go back for seconds – including all the carb-loaded stuff.
- Eat breakfast: Unless you’re an intermittent faster like me, don’t starve yourself until Thanksgiving lunch or dinner. Doing so will just make you overindulge – so make it a 3-meal sort of day.
- If you’re traveling: don’t forget Jetson’s epic list of travel hacks (link to blog)!
Beyond the food, what else can you do to stay healthy (and sane) on Thanksgiving? It’s more than just what’s in your gullet – it’s also about what you’re up-to during the day to keep yourself grounded, happy and ready to actually give and receive thanks with friends and family.
Some top tips?
- Get outside (unless you are in Minneapolis this year): My mother very often insists we all go for a walk around the neighborhood as a family after dinner. Not only does it prevent my brother from falling asleep in the wingback chair, burning off even a few calories and getting movement on this day when sloth rules is likely a good thing.
- Recognize people are who they are: Have a cousin who super focused on convincing you that, indeed, the moon landing was fake? He isn’t going to change because there’s turkey on the table. Listen, don’t argue, and enjoy what it must be like to live in such an interesting mental world.
- Be grateful: It’s Thanksgiving – the holiday when my sister exclaimed years ago “shouldn’t we at least talk about the pilgrims?”. And now we remind her of that every year. But in all seriousness, being grateful for whatever you have has been shown to make you happier and boosts immune function.
- Enjoy the little stuff: It’s super easy to become overwhelmed with the pomp and circumstance that is the holidays, but one sure fire way to remain centered and happy is to embrace the present. Mindfulness, despite it sounding very much like something one does at a couple’s retreat, has been shown to increase happiness and actually build gray matter in the brain that is useful for “learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.” Check out the super interesting study, here
Hopefully these tips will make your Thanksgiving a little more enjoyable – while still being practical! Most of all – have fun, enjoy the day, and don’t forget to bring your Jetson.