Mentally Preparing for Thanksgiving—Focus on What Really Matters

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is how I used to feel after holidays -- full to the point of buttons busting loose.

It’s coming. Only nine days away. It’s like that black storm cloud you see in the distance and you’re excited because storms can be really fun to watch, but it’s also a little scary—What if the power goes out? What if trees blow over? What if there’s so much rain that the streets flood?

Thanksgiving can be sort of like a storm—yeah, it’s cool that you get friends, family, and food all at once, but it’s scary… You want to try everything because how often do you have some of those things? And you don’t want to offend anyone, right? But at the same time, you can easily overeat to the point of feeling sick and then continue the trend of overeating due to leftovers. And then it continues after that because now you’re so used to stuffing yourself that you need to continue, right?


This is where the real reason for this holiday needs to become THE highlight. It’s called “Thanksgiving” because you’re supposed to give thanks for what you have and what you can do. Focus on being thankful for the fact that you have food on the table, but enjoy only enough to satisfy your hunger, not throw yourself into a coma. Focus on being around friends and family and catching up; not the four different desserts that are on the table. You can always make a pecan pie if you really want to, it doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving, but how often do you get your cousins, your sister from out of town, and your grandma all under one roof these days? Focus on the fact that your body helps you walk, lift things, run, take a bike class, go up and down the stairs, do pushups, and do everything else physical that you are able to do. Focus on respecting your body—overfeeding it is not healthy. You should be focusing on fueling yourself, not gorging yourself.

I’ve had problems with Thanksgiving and Christmas in the past. I was—and still battle with being—an emotional eater. I remember dreading, really, truly dreading Thanksgiving and Christmas solely because of the amount of food that would be present. I had a terrible case of bulimia, which caused me to eat and eat and eat until I felt sick, and then I would get rid of it,
usually through trying to exercise as many hours a day as I could without making it too obvious as to what I was trying to do.

Thankfully (see! thankful!) I’m in recovery and the holidays aren’t as hard. Why? Because I’ve trained myself to do a few things that I have found to help me relax a little. Let me share with you what I do.

Kelsey’s Holiday Eating Tricks

  1. I eat really well and exercise hard each day for a week or two leading up to a holiday. This way, my body is used to eating cleaner, whole foods, and my body feels strong and toned. When it comes to the holiday, I’m more tempted to eat well because I’ve done so well for one to two weeks and my body is used to eating well so it craves the good stuff and fills
    up a lot faster (and feels like crap) when I eat the not-so-good-for-me stuff.
  2. I work out hard the morning of a holiday. Always. I do a combo of weights and cardio because it really makes me work hard and feel strong. I’m always more mindful of the damage I do with food afterward, too. If I’m going to work out that hard, why fill up on junk food?
  3. I try to stick to homemade foods only. As in, if someone brings cookies they bought from the store, I pass on them. I’d rather splurge on a homemade piece of pie that I rarely get to eat as opposed to filling up on foods I can buy any day. Plus the homemade stuff tastes so much better!
  4. I try to fill my plate up first with the healthier options: sweet potatoes, turkey, salad, green beans, and corn. If I’m still hungry, then I’ll go back for items that are a little richer or heavier (and not as good for me). This way, I can’t eat as much. Most of the time, though, that healthier stuff is so good that I eat a lot of that and then have to force myself to save room for a little dessert!
  5. I try to stay away from alcohol, or I just have one drink. And I try to make it something I rarely have—like a specialty drink my dad or sister will make. Depends on your preferences, of course, but I would rather fill my belly with good food than beer or liquor. Plus, the drunker you get, the more you eat, and the sicker and more bloated you feel the next day. Gross.
  6. Bring something healthy or if you’re the host, ask people to bring at least one healthier dish, like a big fruit salad or veggie platter with salsa or hummus.
  7. Be mindful of how many sauces and dips you’re digging into. The cheese spreads, bean dips, cranberry sauces, and gravy boats add on A TON of calories without you really realizing it.
  8. I eat a good breakfast full of fruits and whole grains and good-for-me fats. I’ll usually start with a big cup of coffee, at least two pieces of fruit, and then maybe a piece of peanut butter toast to fill me up.
  9. I go into the food frenzy with the mindset that I’m not going to eat everything I see, but I’m not going to call anything off-limits. If something looks good, I’ll have a bite. Don’t scoop a huge heap of something you’re not sure about on your plate without having a small taste first. And the moment you start saying, “I’m going to have pie,” is the moment
    your brain has decided it’s going to trick you and make you OD on it. So just tell yourself to try things that look and sound good, but to go slow.
  10. I end the evening with a cup of green tea (no sugar) and a walk. It helps me digest.


One of my favorite fitness women, Cathe Friedrich, dishes on a few superfoods for the upcoming feast of the bird (and yes, cranberry sauce is on there, but she does admit that it’s high in sugar and calories) and also which pies are your best bet and why—can you guess which ones are the worst for you? It’s not a fun answer, but I’m sure if you’re honest with yourself, you know them.

So… What goals are you setting for yourself for the day of food? What are you thankful for? What are your tips and tricks for getting through holidays that revolve so much around food?


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