Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. We will have 19 people around our table on Thursday and we are truly blessed to have so many members of our family together. Yet, large family gatherings, cooking large meals, and “together time” can be stressful. Not to mention what it can do to your healthy eating habits! Even good things cause stress — and let’s face it, not every family gathering is entirely a “good thing.”
Here are some ideas to keep your stress level low and your Thanksgiving healthy:
Keep Perspective: Whether you are hosting or a guest, remember no one will recall the turkey or how long it took to get to the table. This holiday is about the being thankful for the people around you and the blessings in your life. Take the time for extra hugs (especially for the harried cook).
Keep Breathing: When things start to overwhelm you, remember to breathe. …in through your nose, and out through your mouth — more out than in. Blow out the stress and give yourself permission to enjoy.
Keep Connecting: Even when we have the opportunity to be in the same room with friends and family it is easy let the time go by without truly connecting. Take the time to sit down and really have a conversation. Make this season a time to share.
Keep Proportion: It’s easy to overindulge at the holiday table. Here’s some tips to stay in control:
- If you are hosting:
- Don’t starve people before they eat.
- Often, the holiday meal is served at an odd time. Serve some healthy snacks (veggies and dip for example) to tide people over.
- Serve something warm to drink.
- If you are cold your body thinks it needs more food. Warm up and you will feel less likely to overindulge.
- Make the meal an event – serve in stages.
- Try starting with a salad or soup first. Then clear and serve the main course. It takes twenty minutes for the stomach to tell your brain it is full. Give it a head start!
- Once you serve the main course take the leftovers off the table. Again, waiting twenty minutes to serve seconds will help your brain catch up with your stomach.
- After the main course, clear (and even do) the dishes. This can be a great time for a walk together, a little touch football or even a chat about what has made you grateful over the year.
- Consider plating the dessert. Putting a small serving on a beautifully decorated plate make a wonderful finish to the meal.
- After the meal, wrap up “doggie-bags” for your guest. It is a lovely gesture and a way to limit the gravy taunting you in the refrigerator.
- If you are visiting:
- Try to treat this meal like any other. If you don’t take seconds usually – don’t!
- Fill up on healthier choices such as turkey and vegetables
- Hit the relish tray hard!
- It’s one day – don’t beat yourself up for a slip.
Keep the quiet: Just for a few hours, disconnect from your electronic gadgets and focus on the people around the table. No calls, no texts, and no tweets. Without the distractions you may be surprised how well you connect.
Keep the thanks: Thanksgiving should be a day to slow down, take a break from your usual busy life and look around. What is good in your life? Who gives you joy and comfort? What are you thankful for this year?
I wish you low stress, great success, and a wonderful holiday.
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Eliz Greene is the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Health. Drawing on her experience surviving a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggling to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.
As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 100 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com.