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Surviving Thanksgiving 2011

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Okay, #teambgg2wl, my kitchen is calling me… and, because I’ve got to sharpen my elbows to prepare for Black Friday tomorrow, I’ve got a busy day! Today, I’m sharing a post I wrote a while back that’ll work for anyone needing a few tips, or just a polite reminder to celebrate with family and partake in good food, not just Auntie Tweety’s (everyone has a “Tweety,” right?) boxed mashed potatoes!

I’m not gonna lie — I hate this time of year. Sure, I love the family gatherings, the reminiscing, and the making of new memories… but damn, can we do it without it surrounding food? It takes a giant pot luck holiday and the promise of a full tummy to bring everyone together? Cold game!

I know that’s pessimistic, but I’d much rather have the good times and skip the whole “Battle of Thanksgiving” between my will power and the candied yams, you feel me? Besides, since I don’t eat pork, and everything is cooked in pork or beef (I’m reminded of the Boondocks clip where Huey and Granddad argue about the “Pork Flavored Broccoli”), I’m often left eating lettuce and water while the person next to me enjoys their bacon flavored cornbread. Sigh.

Having said that, I think it’s time I shared a few tips that I plan on using to make sure that I don’t leave Thanksgiving with about 5lbs of food stuck ON me, and 5lbs of booty that I didn’t plan for. ‘Cause seriously — while booty is nice, I’m going to flip out if I leave with more than I came with. Just being honest.

    • 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.

Be happy, be healthy!

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alicia November 24, 2011 - 12:33 PM

i’m on board with many of the points you brought up. however, i’m also of the opinion that holidays are just that–holidays. i spent way too many years RUINING thanksgiving for myself because i was so focused on keeping small portion sizes, not having seconds, filling up on the veggies and just having a “few bites” of stuffing (most delicious side dish EVER that i only get to have once a year). in recent years i’ve learned to just RELAX and accept that, yes, i am going to eat more than i usually do on thanksgiving, and yes i will be full at the end of the night, but also that it is only ONE night, and no it is not going to make me gain 5 pounds and completely sabotage my diet plan. and let me tell you at this point i am a lot healthier and a lot happier.
of course, i understand it’s a different situation if someone feels that going overboard one day will lead to a downward spiral. i totally get that.
but just saying, a little overindulgence a few days out of the year is all good in my book 🙂

Erika Nicole Kendall November 24, 2011 - 12:46 PM

I think it’s great that you’re at that point in your personal journey, because you know what works best for you. Many people, however, are not that far and for those who want to start off with a little more structure for their holidays, setting up some preliminary guidelines actually can make a difference for them. For someone who has a difficulty with control, this kind of stuff helps.

To be honest, I’m beyond this in my journey – I make everything from scratch, can appreciate the holiday for what it’s intended to be, and can get up tomorrow and go back to my “regular” and “normal” life and leave it behind me. I’m also not foolish enough to downplay or ignore the fact that it wasn’t always that way, and these are the tips that helped me get to where I am, now.

Serenity November 24, 2011 - 3:14 PM

Any suggestions on how to survive my mother?

Erika Nicole Kendall November 24, 2011 - 3:37 PM


Lots of alcohol.

ROFL Kidding! Just remember that it’ll be over soon. You can always use a “good Black Friday sale” as an excuse to dip out early, y’know. LOLOL

KalleyC November 27, 2011 - 9:07 PM

These are really great tips. I know that sometimes family means well, but if they knew you when you were younger, and you’re thinner now, not everyone will be happy about your new size.

I think over all, it’s best to know yourself. Sticking with small portions and staying away from the store bought things is definitely a good idea. This Thanksgiving I cooked everything from scratch, even the deserts. So I knew what was in it (also when you’re surrounded by food for 2 days before TG, you are not interested in eating anything–you’re done looking at it).

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