How to guide: Thanksgiving & your optimal wellness

Posted on November 13, 2009


We are one week closer to the gorge-fest that is Thanksgiving! I personallyHow to make your meal Gluten-Free am excited for Thanksgiving & the holidays, my first as a Gluten Free Lady! If you’re a regular reader, then you know by now, that eating gluten-free is 1. not that hard to do, & 2. is not really a sacrifice when your health is at stake.

I thought I’d tell you what I’m going to be eating so if you’re thinking at all about watching your gluten intake, your calorie intake or really about eating healthy at all on the holiday, you can match up what’s going to be on your menu with what I’m having. And I’ll give you a few tips on not just surviving these meals with friends & family, but actually enjoying them.

“Why do you know what you’re going to eat already, Kate? That’s weird,” you might say. Not really. When you’re GF, you tend to look ahead at restaurant menus & decide on weeknight meals a few days ahead, because you want to be sure you’re going to get all that you want or need rather than showing up at that meal & being stuck with a less than optimal choice…or even worse…to go to someone’s house or to a restaurant for dinner & find out that all you’ll be eating is salad because you didn’t know there wasn’t another option for you to eat.

Here’s what I’ve sent to my mother, the Turkey Day chef, as my list of safe foods: Turkey, roasted veggies (she does a great roasted veg), plain sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, & if she doesn’t buy the gluten-free pumpkin pie shell, then I’ll have the pumpkin part of the pie without the crust.

Are you really missing anything? I mean seriously. Stop for a moment & consider if your hips, your heart, your gut really need Grandma’s Cheesy Vegetable Casserole with Ritz cracker topping…I scoop of that will probably put you over 220 calories, more than 10g of fat & enough sodium & chemicals to clog all your pipes.

With the gluten-free Thanksgiving, you’ve got turkey that, if cooked right, will be moist & flavorful, roasted veggies that provide carbs, vitamins & healthy fats from the olive oil (my moms’ have olive oil + something else added to them & they turn out soft but not mushy, with crispy edges on the ones that were on the sides of the pan), delicious, creamy potatoes either way (I will come to your house & personally pull any sweet potato covered in marshmallows out of your mouth!), & the choice to still have dessert but a smarter calorie option & none of that chemical & gluten junk in your pie crust…pie crusts are notoriously dry anyways so leave it to the side or if you really want a whole piece of pie, find a gluten-free version…they do exist & taste the same.

Now a few other tips to help you get through Thanksgiving with your optimal fitness goals & waistline intact.

– Go for a walk after your meal. I don’t care how cold it is, bundle up & even if it’s only a slow lap around the block, do it. Moving after a meal helps your body digest as well as puts to use a few of those calories you just ate, rather than letting them just go to storage of fat. **Any food you eat, at ANY meal, if not put to use within a few hours WILL be stored as fat for future use. If you are not moving a lot via exercise, you WILL keep those fat stores around your arms, thighs, stomach, etc.

– Follow this idea I got from either Wayne Dyer or Michael Pollan, who got it from an old Japanese saying. “Eat 80% of what’s on your plate. Leave 20% for hunger.” It’s a funny notion but I like it. The ‘American way’ is to make use of every ounce of food in front of us, whether our bodies need it or not. So many of us were raised to feel it was our duty to ‘do something!’ with that plate of food. ‘Leave the rest for hunger.’

– Eat normally before the “Big Meal.” Eat a normal breakfast, a small mid-morning snack & if the meal is late in the day, then a small lunch to tide you over until you sit down to eat. If the Big Meal is at lunch, then go, eat, and save your 2nd helping for the dinner hour. If you’re so stuffed you don’t want dinner, you must have skipped the tip above this one. Cutting calories to “save” them for the Big Meal only slows your metabolism down, making it harder for you to burn off the calories eaten at The Meal, & making your body more apt to hold onto most of the calories at The Meal as fat since all day you were giving it signals that it wasn’t getting enough.

– For goodness sake, go workout before hand. Seriously, if you burn off a few hundred calories walking, biking, running, doing circuit training- you will be in a much better mental & physical state to eat your Thanksgiving meal. There’s workouts stored in the “fitness” category. Pick one & get up early if you have to in order to get it done. Remember, if your goal matters, then getting up early to fit it in is what you will gladly do. Right? Right!

– Lastly, I challenge you all to make some or all of your meal organic or at the very-least “REAL” food this year. No fake foods (fake cheese, fake creamer, fake gravy). Cut the chemical load. Here’s the order of attack-able items we’re going for:

  • Trans fat free
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup free
  • Gluten-free ingredients *read your labels people!*
  • No ingredients with more than 6 items in that one ingredient i.e. gravy packets that list 12 ingredients just in the packet
  • Organic meat, dairy, vegetables
  • Grass-fed meat, dairy *gold star for you if you get a heritage turkey!*

Send in your comments of how you’re planning your Thanksgiving meal! I hope you’ll consider how you can do Thanksgiving more consciously this year & I applaud every effort you make to move in that direction. It is a worthy investment of your time, money & effort!

Posted in: nutrition