6 Tips for Eating a Healthy Thanksgiving Meal
Thanksgiving is coming up, and we've all heard the old saying about tryptophan, the amino acid in turkey, making you sleepy after your Thanksgiving meal. Well, the real culprit is probably because Thanksgiving is an extremely high-carb meal usually.
That means, for most people, their blood sugar will spike way up high and then crash, and that's why you feel sleepy afterward.
For people on a low-carb diet, Thanksgiving can be particularly problematic. It's something that people tend to dread as part of the holidays if they're on any diet, but it doesn't have to be that way. There's a lot of ways you can successfully navigate Thanksgiving and still enjoy it, too. Here are six tips for eating a healthy Thanksgiving meal.
1. Go in with a plan.
The first strategy is just to go in with a plan. If you're on a diet, it's important to make time to sit down and actually think through, during Thanksgiving, what you're actually going to be doing.
Are you going to be going somewhere? Are you staying home? Are you going to let yourself have a slice of pie, or are you going to bring your own food?
Sitting down and actually thinking through this plan step by step will make you much more likely to follow through with the rules that you set for yourself.
Also, think about who's going to be there. What kind of social temptations are going to arise? Is there a particular aunt or uncle that's going to be pushing pie onto you? You might want to prepare a few "no, thank you" type comments in advance of how you want to phrase that. It might sound like overkill, but it really does make a difference.
2. Start the day with exercise.
Next thing, start the day by exercising. A lot of times people get on a positive feedback loop when they start the day off on the right foot. If you go to the gym or go for a jog or go for a bike ride, it might set you up to be more inclined to make better choices later.
3. Don't show up hungry.
Have a snack beforehand. Don't try and starve yourself so you can eat more food and get away with it. That's not really how it works. Have a snack so you feel more satiated and in control of the choices you are making.
4. After the meal, take a short walk.
Another thing that helps is to take a short walk after the meal. It helps your insulin sensitivity to get some light exercise after a meal.
So, while everybody else is crashing on the couch after the pie, maybe you can volunteer to walk the dog, and in doing so, you will not only be benefiting the dog, you'll be helping your insulin sensitivity to get a little better, and you'll digest that meal a little better so you won't feel so bad later.
5. Shift your focus away from food.
Instead of thinking of Thanksgiving as a time to gorge, think of it as a time to spend time with family or friends. Shifting your focus and attention away from the food and onto the people there can also be another strategy of framing the encounter as a whole.
6. Cook (and bring) your own dishes.
Another way to have a good Thanksgiving is to cook and bring your own dishes. For people on a low-carb diet, this is easier to do than ever.
There's plenty of recipes on the internet now, and a lot of the places carbs tend to hide at Thanksgiving, like gravy and cranberry sauce, you don't tend to think about those. They do add up. You can make low-carb or keto versions of almost all of those.
It might be good to pick a few of your favorite dishes in advance. If you really want to have something like mashed potatoes or stuffing, it may be fun to just experiment a little and do something different and try out some low-carb keto recipes.
There are recipes for low-carb gravy. There are some stuffing recipes that are based with cauliflower instead of bread, and there are also some really delicious mashed potato substitutes that you can make with pureed cauliflower or celery root that are actually really delicious.
And they might even be a hit with the other guests. You might have some low-carb converts out of this. Here are some recipe ideas:
- Low-carb cranberry sauce
- Cauliflower stuffing
- Low-carb stuffing
- Low-carb cornbread
- Low-carb gravy
- Keto gravy
- Cauliflower mashed potatoes (mock garlic)
- Cauliflower mashed potatoes (ricotta and roasted garlic)
- Celery root mashed potatoes
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