Savoring Thanksgiving: Nourishing Your Bonds & Body

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Ryan Day Coaching

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

I hope you’re as excited as I am for a day (and weekend) filled with delicious food, football, and time spent with the people you love.

When you think about it, Thanksgiving is a holiday that was literally established to express gratitude. Enough people had to collectively come together and decide that giving thanks for things we have is so important that we need to give everyone a day off work to do just that. Crazy!

Of the many things out there to be thankful for, health is right at the top of the list for a lot of people. They say we don’t appreciate our health until it’s too late, so take some time to think about all the things we take for granted for every day.

The ability to walk, being able to brush your teeth on your own, the strength to get out of bed unassisted, the ability to hold a baby, eating your Thanksgiving meal without somebody feeding you. These are just a few and don’t even consider mental and emotional health.

If you’re really gung-ho about your health journey, today I’m going to give you a few actionable steps for Thanksgiving. Before I do that, though, I want to say something really important.

Holidays should be spent focused on enjoying time with your family and friends. The time you get with these people is finite, and when your time with these people is up, you’re not going to be thinking, “I’m glad I worked out on that Thanksgiving in 2023 rather than spending time with them.”

One day is so small in the big picture of a health journey and won’t make or break your progress. Put your health goals in the backseat for a day, and allow your relationships to be front-and-center.

Now that we’re clear on priorities for the day, here are some simple ways to be health-conscious throughout your Thanksgiving day without sacrificing your time with others.

Pre-Game Workout

Most people don’t get together until late morning or early afternoon for Thanksgiving. If you don’t have anything planned before that, it makes sense to squeeze in a workout.  

Anything is better than nothing, but I recommend strength training on the day of Thanksgiving.

When you lift, your muscles become more insulin-sensitive, which means they can utilize blood sugar more efficiently. This can offset the impact of a big holiday meal on your blood sugar and help avoid (but probably not entirely eliminate lol) that post-meal crash.  

Some other really positive benefits of a Thanksgiving morning workout: increased energy and mood. Exercise releases endorphins, making you feel more energetic and happier throughout the day. And let’s be honest, there’s probably going to be somebody at your Thanksgiving where being in a better mood will be beneficial.

Post-Meal Walk

This one is so easy! After you’re finished eating, see how many people you can rope into going on a little stroll. It doesn’t need to be fast. In fact, go slow enough that anybody who wants can join.

The benefits of this walk are two-fold, listed in order of importance:

  1. You get to continue spending time with your friends and family.
  2. Your digestion and blood sugar benefit immensely from a post-meal walk.

Navigating the Feast

Thanksgiving dinner is a feast, and you should savor every bite. That said, nobody is making you go back for thirds (except maybe your very persistent grandma). Here are some ways to enjoy everything without putting yourself in a food coma.

Start with Protein & Veggies: Begin your meal with a generous portion of vegetables and protein. They’re low in calories and high in fiber, which will naturally help you fill up and control your appetite through the rest of the meal.

Mindful Eating: Savor each bite, eat slowly, and put your fork down between bites. This allows your body to register fullness, preventing overeating.

Portion Control: Limit your portion sizes on your first plate. Throw a little of everything you want on there without going crazy. You can still go back for seconds, so no need to have food falling off your plate.

Lose the Guilt

Again, Thanksgiving is a time to connect, make memories, and strengthen bonds. Don’t let food choices distract you from these precious moments.

Instead of obsessing over food, focus on the conversations, the laughter, and the shared stories. Remember, it’s the company that makes the holiday special, not just the food.

Along those lines, let go of any guilt you may feel about indulging in traditional dishes. It’s okay to enjoy your favorite treats, so eat your grandma’s pie or your aunt’s stuffing on Thanksgiving! You never know the last time you’ll get to eat it.

Hydrate

Last but not least. If you’re a Thanksgiving-day drinker, remember that water is also a liquid that exists. Don’t forget to mix it in throughout the day.

Post-Thanksgiving Weight

After the festivities, it’s important to remember that your body weight can fluctuate from day to day, and a single day of indulgence won’t significantly impact your long-term health or fitness goals.

If you see a 3- or 5-pound jump on the scale on Friday morning, don’t freak out.  Water retention, salt intake, and food volume can all cause your weight to swing wildly day-to-day. It’s normal, and you didn’t gain 3 pounds of fat in one day. I promise.

Remember: Thanksgiving is a single day, and consistent habits are what truly shape your health. If you go off the rails, big deal. There are 364 other days in a year to care about your health goals.  

And you know what? You’re probably not gonna be perfect those 364 days either. That’s okay!!

Consistency is king, perfection is prison. Consistent progress over a long time is what gets you to your health goals – not eating perfect on Thanksgiving day.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love, joy, and kick-ass food.