Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving
By Samantha Gilbert, BA, CHNP
- Know true hunger. Teach your body the difference between physical hunger and social or psychological hunger. This takes some time to master, especially when your brother keeps bringing up your old high school boyfriend who wore sweatbands all the time and thought he was Eddie Van Halen in front of your new boyfriend, whom you’ve only been dating for a few months. Meditation and Clearing are amazing tools to have at your disposal during these times. Simply slip away to the bathroom or take a walk outside and ask yourself “what are the feelings that are provoking my anxiety and frustration?” Then clear them or meditate for a moment to see if you are truly physically hungry, or just full of anxiety that is triggering your desire to eat. The answer may surprise you. Trust me, this works.
- Eat slowly. Practice keeping your fork down until you have finished your last bite of food and take at least 15 minutes to finish your meal. Many digestive problems can be eliminated by slowing down because your brain needs time to tell your body you are, in fact, full. If you eat slowly and mindfully, conscious of every bite, you’ll probably eat less but enjoy your food more. Think the French Paradox is a load of crap? Think again. Every time I am in France I always lose weight, and I attribute this to the greater positive energy generated in the kitchen and at the dinner table with people I love. Savor what you are eating. Make love to it, and enjoy the process.
- Eat to 80% fullness. What does this mean? It means eat until you are just satisfied. Remember points #1 and #2 above and you’ll master this one in no time.
- Get active. Just because it’s the holidays and your gym suddenly becomes a ghost town or you’re traveling doesn’t mean you can’t work up a sweat. Staying active will help keep your mind clear and your metabolism up. It can also help you cope with Aunt Martha’s annoying comments about your new hairdo. Besides, who doesn’t love a nice, long walk after dinner snuggled next to your sweetheart?
- Get plenty of sleep. Yes, I know you are in charge of your family’s dessert committee (heck, you probably are the committee), plus you’re not thrilled about seeing your in-laws, but trust me, adequate sleep will do you wonders. Not only does sleep change your hormone balance and ability to recover from stress, but the more sleep you get the leaner you are. The less sleep you get, the fatter, weaker and sicker you’re likely to be. And you definitely don’t need to be dealing with that. Quick tip, turn off your computer and TV at least two hours before hitting the sheets.
- Ditch the white stuff. You can still make wonderful desserts without the use of refined sugar. Coconut palm sugar is a great 1 to 1 replacement to white sugar and is loaded with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Other great options include date sugar, maple syrup (grade B and organic), molasses and raw honey (not for infants). Keep in mind that these sweeteners are still sugar and regardless of marketing tactics, are still highly glycemic. Therefore, I recommend keeping them to a minimum.
- Enjoy proteins and fats first. I know Aunt Martha will have platefuls of sugary finger foods, and little crystal bowls from the 1960’s scattered throughout the house full of peanut M & M’s to entice you, but trust me, you’ll enjoy Thanksgiving dinner so much more if your blood sugar is on even keel. Instead, go check out the deviled eggs, or better yet, eat a healthy snack before leaving the house such as an apple with a handful of sprouted almonds or a protein shake with coconut oil. Your adrenal glands will thank you.
- Eliminate vegetable oils. This really is a biggie. All vegetable oils (canola, soy, corn, safflower, etc.) use solvents, usually hexane, during the extraction process that still remain in the finished product. No amount of refining will remove these harmful substances. So called “heart healthy” canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. Don’t buy into industry marketing tactics. These oils are very toxic. Think nut and seeds oils are better? Nope. These oils are so delicate they go rancid very quickly, long before they hit the shelf. Instead, opt for raw coconut oil and raw or organic butter for cooking and baking. Use olive oil sparingly and only after cooking. Click here to read my complete article about oil processing.
- Replace white flour with sprouted options. The abuse of grains through today’s present processing methods renders them devoid of nutrients. Sprouting breaks down hard to digest starches and anti-nutrients leaving you with healthier (and tastier) pies, cakes and breads. Check out To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company for more information.
- Support your local farmer. In 1992, the USDA approved a rule to permit irradiation of raw, fresh or frozen packaged poultry and produce. Irradiation depletes foods of their valuable vitamin and mineral content. Conventional animals are also subjected to deplorable living conditions, and injected with a wide variety of hormones, antibiotics, and flavor enhancers. In other words, you are throwing your health and money down the toilet. Buying from your local farmer supports healthier animals, a better environment, and better health for you and your family. And I almost forgot, your food will taste better too! How’s that for a Rock Star Thanksgiving? Check out the Organic Consumers Association for more details.