A healthy Thanksgiving with a new tradition and 10 tips to stay on track

We don’t have Thanksgiving in Australia (of course, but it still surprises many Americans :)). In order to explain to the Aussies, Thanksgiving is about eating and football. That’s all you need to know. The eating is massive. For someone like me, therefore, Thanksgiving is a dangerous time, where I’m very likely to embrace things like Pumpkin Pie (yum) and a very large dinner of roast turkey and stuffing. However, Jed will not be here for Thanksgiving so that just leaves the boys and I.

I like to cook a roast turkey, but the boys really would prefer pizza. They’re teen/tweenagers after all, so that’s not surprising. And with my Nutrisystem going so well, I don’t want to make food that nobody will really eat, and will sit calling me from the fridge for the three days until I throw it out. That’s not good on lots of levels, including the fact I’ve learned that if you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it and that includes not buying it ‘for the kids’ (That was shockingly difficult to learn, by the way.)

So I’m going to do something different, and perhaps start a tradition that will keep my new Nutrisystem healthy lifestyle on track. After all, if it’s a tradition it will happen every year, and it will do two things: A. Remind me about how important being healthy is, how great I feel right now, and how thankful I am that I did this; and B: Give our family something that is centric to America that can be about us being part of it.

Nutrisystem has sent me a list of tips to help me get through the holiday season without flying blindly off the rails (I really don’t think that would happen, but you never know). I’ve been thinking about the tips, and had an epiphany.

I’m going to get the kids to choose the menu, and cook the food. They are going to do everything from setting and decorating the table through to cooking the food. We’ll spend some time early in the week planning it out together, and it will be a great learning opportunity for them on fat and sugar content of the foods they like. (I have told Charlie so often that chocolate milk has more sugar in it than a can of coke that I’m sick of hearing it. But it’s true.)

Make no mistake, I don’t want to suck all the fun out of a relaxing, fun day. Instead I’d love for them to try something new, and build on the one dish each they can currently cook. I haven’t told them yet, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to be on board.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile, I want to share with you the tips that Nutrisystem sent me, that got me to this fantastic brainwave. I know that you’re not all on Nutrisystem, but there is a stack of great advice in these tips which are relevant to us all. And they apply just as well to the Christmas holiday season as well. I hope your Thanksgiving is also healthy, happy and peaceful – and that you are able to hold the ones you love close.

Tips for Taking the Fear out of Thanksgiving

1. Have a plan.  Think things through before you get to the actual holiday meals and parties. Maybe your strategy is to take tiny portions of different dishes; that’s okay. If you’re cooking, you might want to have your bottle of water with you in the kitchen, so you’re less tempted to snack. Do what you can to stay away from the appetizer table. Plan to avoid anything that’s not homemade. The point is that if you go in with a plan, you’ll be less likely to get caught off-guard.

2. Stay on track. Holidays are not the time to skip meals in an attempt to “bank” calories. That’s a strategy that can backfire miserably. Instead, eat everything on your meal plan leading up to the holiday event, and make sure you’re drinking all your water. You’ll be less likely to overindulge at the big event.

3. Set a goal. There’s something about holidays that makes people forget what they do the rest of the year. Do you already have weight loss goals set up for November, December and January? If not you can start today. Once you’ve set a short-term goal, decide on a way to reward yourself once the goal has been reached.

4. Drink smart. Face it, overindulging during holiday events—whether it’s an office party, a family gathering or a neighborhood open house—can add a lot of extra calories to your day. In addition, when you’ve had too much to drink, it tends to weaken your previous resolve and derail any strategies and plans you might have had. Besides, you don’t want to end up as that karaoke-singing family member or neighbour everyone will be talking about for the next month.

5. Trim the calories.  This tip is especially useful if you happen to be the primary cook for an event. In baked items, replace the fat with an equal amount of applesauce and the sugar with a sugar substitute; substitute a quarter cup of egg substitute for every egg called for in the recipe; replace butter with low fat margarine; replace whole milk with 1% milk and sour cream with yogurt; reduce the amount of nuts called for by half. And don’t forget both veggies and salad.

6. Enlist support. Trying to maintain your Nutrisystem program can be hard at the holidays, but there’s no reason you have to go it alone. Ask for your family’s understanding or even their help, so nobody’s trying to foist “seconds” on you. Nutrisystem counselors can help you strategize, based on your individual circumstances. Or you can go to the Nutrisystem Discussion Boards, where you’ll find people who definitely understand what you’re trying to do. Discuss your concerns; share tips of your own, or join one of the many weight loss challenges. Some of them are specifically geared to the holidays. Introduce yourself well before the event, so you have that support already in place.

7. Keep moving. Instead of just sitting around after dinner, suggest a family walk, or organize a touch-football game. Most people will be grateful for the chance to move around, and it can keep you on-track with your exercise plan.

8. Quality not Quantity. If you do plan to indulge in some of the traditional Thanksgiving favorites, use these portions as a guideline:

  • Turkey—3 oz. white meat, no skin (about the size of a deck of cards)
  • Mashed potatoes—1/3 cup (about the size of half of a baseball)
  • Gravy—1 Tbsp. (just drizzle it)
  • Relish made with sugar—1 Tbsp.
  • Stuffing—2 Tbsp.
  • Dinner Roll—if not homemade, skip it
  • Pie—1/12 of a 9” pie

9. Eat Before You Go. Whether you are hosting or just attending a holiday function, be sure to eat your Nutrisystem entrée before the festivities begin — that way you won’t be tempted to overeat during the meal and will be able to stay on track.

10. Embrace the holiday spirit.  This last tip may just be the most important: You can get so caught up in all the planning and hoopla that you lose the whole meaning of the holiday season—coming together with friends and loved ones. It’s the time that’s really valuable, not the food and drink.

Disclosure: Nutrisystem is supplying my food and dietary support in return for my honest reflections on the program. Do you live in the US or Canada, and want to join me and get healthy with Nutrisystem? Join today by calling 1-888-853-4689 or by visiting http://www.nutrisystem.com/nsblog.

3 comments

  • Love your thought process – we sometimes do similar things already on weekends. The kids love that they are getting a say, enjoy the process of prepping and cooking and then actually do tend to eat it all without me constantly reminding them to do so! Good luck, look forward to the next post on how it all went, along with the chosen menu. Xx

  • Great tips from Nutrisystem, although I would likely pass on the dinner roll, homemade or otherwise. I would also have loaded up on lots of low glycemic vegetables too…and substituted mashed sweet potatoes for the high hi white mashed potatoes for a lower gi value. I love that Nutrisystem encourages the consumption of nutrient dense, low glycemic index foods…making it one of the more effective diets available. Glad to see too that you’re enjoying it…good luck to you!

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