(originally wrote for a guest post for Diets in Review)
What I love about Thanksgiving are the traditions. My mom loves to tell the story of holidays when as a child I stuck black olives on the tips of my fingers and ate them. I love the frenzy in the kitchen, my mom trying to get all the food done at the same time. I love the aromas of baked turkey and stuffing, the ritual of making sure each bite of pumpkin pie has whipped cream on it.
Any way you slice that pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving is a day of Gluttony. We can avoid it, we can restrict our food intake on that day and longingly watch our family indulge. Or we can go hog wild and just eat everything on that table.
There has to be something in between, right?
As a reformed obese girl who has had a lifetime of struggles eating, I am faced with this decision every year. See, I used to weigh over 250 pounds. In those days I didn’t care that I was ingesting over 5,000 calories in that one meal.
These days I weigh in at 144 pounds and I have learned what it means to eat in moderation. On my website, 110 Pounds and Counting, I’ve described what I call my 90/10 Rule. I eat food that I want in moderation and I count my calories. I do not diet. I eat pizza, I eat ice cream, I go out to restaurants; but do I gorge myself? No. I had to learn what eating in moderation meant. It took years to relearn how to eat and now I can say I’ve kept off over 100 pounds for 3 years. I learned what worked for me.
Now when I’m faced with the challenges of the holidays I have less anxiety and apprehension about my waistline. I know I’ll make it through the eating season relatively unscathed.
First, I maintain my normal fitness routine. No matter what. Just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean I can’t go for a quick run. In fact, my gym is open Thanksgiving morning. Last year I hit the weights and worked up a sweat on the elliptical. It set the mood for the rest of the day: a mood of happiness and calm. I was home in time to shower and start cooking before my guests arrived. And I felt so much better having gotten it out of the way for the day.
Second, I look at Thanksgiving as my 10% day. 90% of the time I make good choices and you know what? One day is not going to derail my efforts. The trick is to get right back on the plan the day after Thanksgiving! It’s easy to make excuses, but it’s rewarding to make good choices.
On Thanksgiving I load my plate up with all the normal fixings, just less of them. I would much rather enjoy one scoop of mashed potatoes than either a) make myself sick on too much of it and regret it later or b) not eat it at all and regret it later. There IS a happy medium!
Is my plate on Thanksgiving more food than I normally eat? You betcha! But it’s one day. And that one day does not have to ruin all of my efforts thus far. Any way you slice that pumpkin pie it’s going to be a high calorie day, so enjoy that piece of pie…maybe just cut it in half and share with your spouse.