So, it’s Labor Day. The day where you (hell, me too) plan to do a heaping helping of nothing except hit as many cookouts as you can, maybe catch a parade or two, or just lay up on the couch and watch TV. Can’t say I blame you, ’cause that’s certainly the plan for me.
But how can we enjoy the holiday without screwing with our goals? Never fear, I’ve got my personal guide to successfully sailing through the cookouts and parade food without the struggle, the guilt, and the heartburn. (Let’s not act like Cousin Pooh’s pot o’spaghetti with the cheap tomato sauce doesn’t come complete with it’s own salt mine and chest pain. Yuck.)
- Keep a glass of water on you at all times. Why? Firstly, water actually helps you fill up. Drinking water while you eat slows you down, and gives your body time to process the fact that food is being put into it. Since it takes your mind approximately 20 minutes to realize that your body is full, taking time to slow down and drink water (a vital part in weight loss, anyhow) will give your body time to realize what’s being put inside of it, and how much.
- Portions, portions, portions! I know that Aunt Pookie (hey, I love my Aunt Pookie) has the world’s best scalloped potatoes, and I know that you love ‘em and all, but commit yourself to portion sizes no larger than the palm of your hand.
- Put the satellite dish-sized plate down. I’m serious. You know y’all have those Thanksgiving-specific plates that are large enough to double as someone’s rims. Don’t do it to yourself. Stick to a regular sized plate, palm-sized portions, and allow yourself to try a bunch of different things… not simply overdoing it on the few things you love.
- Leave the obviously-store-bought-stuff… alone. I jokingly asked this question on twitter, but I’m serious. Those store-bought pies, those boxed mashed potato flakes, the scalloped potatoes that come from the Betty Crocker magic elixir? Leave it alone. Why? Foods that are processed are, well, processed – genetically engineered to be easier to chew, not leave food in your teeth, or “fill you up.” Unfortunately, it only turns back into the same powder it originated from, with all the calories and none of the “full” feeling… leaving you not only still hungry after all those calories, but on a carb high, at that. That wonderful “melt in your mouth” feeling that M&Ms has convinced us is a good thing? It might be wonderful for chocolate… really not ideal when it comes to actual food.
- Remember what the holiday is for. I know that’s a little pious, but just humor for me for a moment. If this is the one time that you get to see your younger nieces and nephews who are living out of state, and they’re forced to wait to be the last ones to eat (since they’re the youngest – you know how that goes), then stick behind and talk to them (while sipping your water) for a few moments. Play with the kids you don’t see as often as you like. Talk to your show-off cousin about his new car that he just bought, yet suspiciously has the “Avis” rental brochure still in the windshield. More talking, less eating. Entertain yourself!
- Lastly, and this is a big one: Don’t listen to anyone telling you what you do or don’t need to do for you. If someone at the table tells you, “So… you got all kinds of booty, now!” or “Why is your plate so light? Let me fix you another plate, girl, you’re too skinny!” or even (as happened to me a few years back) “Gosh, I remember when you were younger… and skinny!” be polite. Keep your composure. I’m telling you it’ll happen and you’re reading this going “Mmhmm, I can hear it now.” Don’t let it derail your holiday, piss you off, and send you running in there to those magic elixir mashed potatoes. Get your joy from the people who know how to act, don’t be afraid to be mocked for trying to focus on your health during the holidays, and for crying out loud… don’t stress out to the point where it makes you emotionally eat. If there’s ONE thing you don’t need this time of year, it’s to emotionally eat. Kid in a candy store syndrome, and whatnot.
- If you should happen to let it slip that you’re watching your figure, don’t let anyone tell you “Come on, live a little” as a response. Don’t accept that. You’re surrounded by family you don’t see as often as you like. Use this time to “live” by enjoying their company, sharing stories of strength and love, and amaze yourself with how the kids have grown since last time. The last thing you should be “living” through and for on Thanksgiving… is food. To be a little corny (or a lot), the food is mainly a side dish. The family should be the main course.
I’m going to add another component to this. Make all your choices clean ones, and that’s your best bet against overeating, binging, caving into emotional eating aaaaaaaand it will help you save the world. Maybe not so much the saving the world part, but everything else, for sure. If you strive to keep your choices clean ones, you’ll have nothing to feel guilty about. That’s the best way to approach your journey, and that’s the best way to live – not just lose weight!
(‘Cause if you think I won’t be on the hunt for a conch fritter, you’ve got another thing comin’.
What’d I miss? What would you add to the guide?