4 Tips For A Healthy Thanksgiving, No Tofurky Required!
I can’t believe Thanksgiving is almost here! The weather has finally turned chilly and the endless Facebook debates about the appropriate time to begin celebrating Christmas have begun.
Now, I’m sure most of you have already ordered your turkey weeks in advance, planned out your recipes, and printed out a schedule for the big day. But if you’re anything like me, you’re googling “Easy Healthy Fast Gluten Free Dairy Free Sugar Free Happiness Free Thanksgiving Recipes” right about now.
So to my fellow procrastinators, I have good news: You don’t have to throw your healthy eating habits out the window to indulge in holiday festivities! No, I am not going to try and convince you to go out and buy a Tofurky. But here are some easy ways to make your celebration a little more nourishing without ditching the sweet little indulgences that make the holidays so memorable.
1. Get out Grandma’s old recipes
Ahh, the good old days when clean, whole, organic food was known as “food”. As in, that’s the only kind of food there is.
These days, the ingredients list on the side of your favorite boxed stuffing runs long and wordy, and who knows what they’ve actually done to those ingredients before they put them in there! Pesticides, chemical washes, evil Pokemon spells (yeah, still not exactly sure what a Pokemon is. Is it that yellow guy? Is it that giant red and white ball that was in front of Target last month? It’s forever a mystery.) – there are so many things that can be done to your food that aren’t required to be on the label. And I’m not too sure what the effects of Pokemon are on your liver, so…
…So what’s your best bet? Do it yourself! Stuffing from scratch, baby! Get out all of grandma’s favorite holiday recipes (or any recipes with nothing but beautiful whole foods) and go to town. When you see each ingredient in your hand before you make it into something, then you’ll know exactly what is in that something when it’s done. And your body will thank you for it.
2. Yankee swap
Ok, I’ll admit it. I cook things from boxes. And cans. And bags. And any other container that tells me I just need to add water and throw it on the stove. It’s not the best, but there’s a way to make it at least second-best: swap out the garbage with clean, quality food stuffs!
If you don’t have the time or energy to make everything from scratch, then make sure you’re buying a clean version of your usual shortcut. Boxed stuffing? Get non-gmo. Canned cranberry sauce? Ingredients should read: “organic cranberries, organic sugar, filtered water, organic lemon juice concentrate.”
You don’t have to be Susie Homemaker to eat clean, but this option might run a bit pricier than making your usual canned and boxed versions of all your Thanksgiving staples. You might find that making some from scratch and some pre-made with clean, high-quality ingredients can be a good compromise. Need help figuring out what packaged foods are clean and high-quality? Check out my video on how to spot whole foods here.
3. Give your turkey some love
You always feel better after you’ve had some fresh air, a walk around the block, and some fresh leafy greens with lean protein. Well, guess what? So does your food.
You’ve heard the expression “you are what you eat”, but I don’t think anyone really takes those words as seriously as they should. The food you eat is literally broken down for parts and then sent to the cells of your body where it becomes a part of you (yeah, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but you get the idea). That goes for the nutrients and the toxins alike, by the way.
So, would you’d rather have that happy, sunshine-loving, bug grazing, field roaming turkey become a part of you? Or the one who lives in a pile of its own poop and gets pumped full of antibiotics because that’s the only way to keep it from getting too sick to sell for meat?
If you picked the first one, you win more nutrients! Including brain-loving omega-3s! Studies have shown that animals that are free to roam, be social, be happy, and graze as mother earth intended contain more nutrients than their sad caged counterparts. Plus, it’s better for the environment to support the farms that take care of their animals before they have to make the ultimate sacrifice.
So how do you know you’ve got a happy bird? That’s not always the easiest to spot. Packaging can be vague and misleading. Look for organic, free-range, and antibiotic-free for starters. If you see packaging that says “hormone free”, that’s lovely, but it’s nothing special. You’ll probably see somewhere else on the package that it’s illegal to pump your bird full of hormones, so that only means your grocery store isn’t in business with the horemone-pumped-turkey black market. If you see “cage free”, that means there are no cages, but it doesn’t guarantee sunshine and the outdoors.
4. Save room for dessert
We all know it’s coming… dessert. The dreaded hour where everyone in a size 2 is stuffing their face with pumpkin pie and making you sick with their talk of how they shouldn’t be eating so much because they need to lose a few pounds. I mean, come on! It makes you want to starve yourself and eat the entire pie all at once. Well, I have a more palatable solution.
As a general rule, it’s a great idea to strive for at least 80% of your food to be nourishing with only 20% or less depleting. Why should the holidays be any different? Have some nourishing turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, salad… and then for Pokemon’s sake, have a piece of pie! Heck, if you’re in really good health and love the way your body looks, you could even go nuts and work toward a 60/40 ratio instead. It’s all about keeping a balance instead of going off the deep end. You’ll be much happier, less stressed, and you’ll get to eat some pie! 🙂
So, to sum up: Cook like grandma, swap crap for clean, eat a happy bird, have a piece of pie, and enjoy this day! Because it’s not about the food, it’s about the family and friends gathered around it. 😉
What are your favorite ways to enjoy the holidays without eating so much junk you feel like a sloth until January? Let me know in the comments!