One of the best tips I heard during an Integrative Nutrition lecture was: celebrate the occasion, not the food. While it is baked into our mindset that over-eating on Thanksgiving is a requirement, I’d like to ask you if that is properly baked or actually charred?
On Thanksgiving day, several of my relatives gather at my folks’ house to celebrate. While there are always such amazing aromas in the air, creating that warmth and comfort, what is truly cherished is the company; having time to sit and have lengthy conversations that you simply can’t accomplish in a text message or phone call. There’s eye contact, hugs, laughter and, for my family, mini-massages. It’s a chance not only to catch up, but to also lounge about together talking Christmas lists and favorite bands; with focused time to play with the little ones and marvel at their growth and shining personalities. It’s a chance to show a grandparent a new technology, or pull out the family photo albums. It’s quality time to reconnect. That is why we are gathering. Truth is, you could feast any day really, but what would Thanksgiving mean if you weren’t sharing it with those you consider family? It’s the company that we are filling ourselves with.
So, how do we navigate the food? With likely a counter-full of dishes, many that are annual family traditions, the Thanksgiving feast itself can also be considered a part of the thankfulness we celebrate. Food is amazing like that; it can transport us, fill us with memories, and create an atmosphere in the kitchen that is part of the very definition of family. That is something to truly treasure and enjoy.
Just like you wouldn’t normally fill your plate two or more times at a single meal, why ask that of your belly for the holiday; that’s why they make Tupperware. Thanksgiving is one full day, so go ahead and fill your fine china plate at both lunch and dinner time, if you like. You want to be coherent for your conversations, not agonizing with stomach cramps, bloated and gassy, coveting the bathroom door opening.
Nothing says you can’t try everything your heart desires, but your belly would suggest a tasting size portion that you will truly savor. Instead of soda, wine, or coffee with your meal, consider water. Let the water serve as a palate cleanser in-between each tasting sized portion so that you can more fully appreciate all the subtle hues of deliciousness. Also, the water will help you manage your satiation and keep you in a more normal eating range.
Have your dinner, and perhaps suggest a stroll for everyone to get some fresh air and stretch their legs. For the elderly, perhaps it’s simply up and down the driveway. Movement aids in digestion and, as we say in canine massage school, movement is life. For those that can, consider walking a bit further. Embrace the Fall chill; perhaps ask everyone to find a leaf that they view as beautiful and scoop it up. Then, when everyone returns back to the gathering, they place their leaf on a platter or in glass bowl for all to view. I, personally, love to use leaves as centerpieces on my consoles, in some of the amazing glassware I’ve purchased over the years from the Union City Thrift Store. Those seasonal colors are a large part of what create that feeling of Thanksgiving, so why not include them in your own unique way?
Ah, dessert. I’m quite confident that I will want a bite of every pie that is offered on the special day. For me, I only eat sweets like that at holidays, so I look forward to them. I cut a small slice of each pie, so that in total they equal the size of one normal slice of pie. And, while I rarely eat dairy, I will smack my lips over a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of those mini slices. Just one scoop, because you know how it is – you get your dessert plate, and after a few bites you really are done, but because there is more on your plate, you just go ahead and finish it. Less is more, I promise you, and you won’t feel deprived; just control the portions.
Lastly, remember, it’s about quality time with those we love, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Think back to how we discussed giving and receiving as a cycle. Ask for the help you need and, I assure you, your guests will be thankful to offer it.
I wish you and yours an incredible Thanksgiving. Feast on the love!