Wow, can you guys believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow! Holidays can be hard to navigate whether you’re Paleo or not, crazy relatives anyone? I for one really still want to be able to fit in my jeans next week, but I also want to be able to enjoy myself, so I got my thinking cap on and came up with this emergency Thanksgiving survival guide for you. So here are my top dirty secrets to survive a clean Thanksgiving!
Whether you walk, run, WOD, or Jazzercise, get your sweat on in the morning! Wake up early if you have to, sign up for a Turkey Trot, whatever you do, just get er’ done. Not only will you feel great, but it’ll boost your metabolism for the rest of the day, helping you to burn those extra Thanksgiving calories. 500 calories burned in the morning means 500 more calories to eat with later. I mathed. You’ll also have more energy to get your cooking done. It’s a win win!
2. Have a Plan!
My biggest and probably most important piece of advice I can give you is to plan ahead! Us bloggers in the Paleo world must sound like a broken record! Plan plan and plan some more! In fact, plan your planning. Make sure there will be food at dinner that you can eat. Turkey is a no-brainer but make sure there will be other delicious food there for you to indulge in too. After all it’s Thanksgiving, who wants to feel deprived? If you don’t know what the food options will be, call ahead and ask, or make and bring your own side dishes! Not only do you know that you’ll have quality food there to eat, but it will be food you’ll have made so you’ll know exactly what’s in it. Also as an added bonus you’ll look, “So thoughtful!” because you made an effort to contribute to Thanksgiving dinner. Little do they know that you’re totally selfish and will be hoarding the sides you brought all to yourself. Heh heh. Suckers.
3. Wear Pants that Button
I know you guys want to wear sweats to dinner, or your cute LuLu’s. Who are we kidding, we’d probably wear them all the time if it were socially acceptable, but I suggest wearing something that has an actual button and a zipper, like jeans. Once you start to get full they won’t stretch easily like sweats and it will be easier to stop stuffing your face, and let’s face it, you don’t want to be “that guy”, the person that has to unbutton their pants after dinner. Leave that to your gross Uncle.
4. Don’t Show up on an Empty Stomach
Don’t show up to Thanksgiving dinner starving. I don’t know about you, but I get grouchy when I don’t eat. Who wants a grouch at Thanksgiving, I’m sure you already have a grouch somewhere in the family, so there’s no need for two. Fill up on some protein earlier in the day and snack on some veggies and almond butter before you go to dinner. I don’t know about your Thanksgivings but mine are never on time and when you finally do help yourself to dinner, you’ll probably fill your plate in excess if you’re starving. It’s like going to the grocery store hungry. Everything sounds good and then you load your cart to the brim. Not arriving on an empty stomach will also help you with the next item on our Thanksgiving road map…drinking.
5. Don’t be a Lush
Of course you’re going to be drinking. What’s Thanksgiving without a sweet buzz? Plus how else are you supposed to get through awkward conversations with your relatives that you haven’t seen in forever? Or your loveable Aunt that asks you if you’re still, “Living in sin”. I can only navigate family gatherings with a strong buzz. Make sure you don’t drink on an empty stomach, for two reasons: A. You’ll be THAT family member who showed up to the Thanksgiving dinner table smashed (which will make great family gossip for years to come) and B. Alcohol will affect your decision making and lower your inhibitions (that gross guy you made out with in college ringing any bells ladies?) So basically it will be way too easy to give in to your deepest darkest stuffing and mashed potato desires. Stay strong my friends.
6. What to Drink
You should be drinking water! And lots of it! A lot of times our bodies mistake thirst for hunger so we end up eating when really we are actually just thirsty. But water’s boring…Lately I’ve been into carbonated water with a splash of fresh lemon or lime juice. It really works when you’re craving a soda. Or beer. Okay, I lied, it does nothing for beer cravings. If you must indulge in a frosty cold brewski, or twoski, try a gluten-free brand! There are so many out there these days, Red Bridge, Omission, etc. You also have the option of hard cider since it’s gluten-free. My favorite is Crispin brand. Alcohol is technically not Paleo. I say technically but really I mean it’s not. It makes me feel better though when I drink it on a technicality. See the cheat sheet above for your best choices.
7. Navigating the Dessert Table
Allow yourself one splurge in your Thanksgiving meal. It is Thanksgiving after all. So what is it that you can’t you live without on Thanksgiving? For me it’s dessert. Duh. Did you even have to think about that one? For some of you it might be the mashed potatoes your Mom makes or Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole, whatever it may be, pick one thing and let yourself enjoy it. I said one thing. Don’t get crazy! OR refer back to number 2 and bring a Paleo or Gluten-Free alternative to your favorite dishes. I try to think of it in terms like, “This isn’t the last time I’m ever going to eat Pumpkin Pie.” and when I phrase it to myself like that, I’m okay with having a slice of pie instead of 1/4 of the pie. And then seconds on top of that. Followed by chocolate.
Image Courtesy of Erica Lea
8. Don’t Obsess.
It’s Thanksgiving after all. Who wants to count calories, carbs, or whatever. Just concentrate on eating quality foods that will nourish your body. Find other things to do to keep your mind off of food. You have to have at least one interesting relative that you genuinely want to catch up with right? No? Okay then switch out all the margarine in the house for grass-fed butter. They will thank you later. Trust me.
9. The What’s Paleo? Question
I’m sure the majority of your family does not eat Paleo. Nor do they care about nutrition in the slightest. If they do, can I come to your Thanksgiving next year? If you get funny looks or funny questions about your Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegan or whatever lifestyle you practice and preach…come prepared. You can explain that you have a gluten intolerance, it sounds more hardcore than gluten “sensitivity”…Or you can do what I do and just say, “Oh I’m doing a 30 Day Paleo challenge with my gym.” People give you less crap for some reason if they think you are only adopting this lifestyle for a short period of time. They get over it and move on. My family doesn’t even pay attention to what I eat anymore and apparently have no concept of what 30 days is because it’s been over a year. On the other hand you can come prepared with all your Paleo knowledge and books and use this as an opportunity to share (school) your family on your healthy lifestyle! Go you.
10. Have Fun!
Above all, just have fun! Enjoy yourself, enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, enjoy your food! If you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up. Just commit to doing the best you can do for yourself and your body. Be thankful that you have the desire to approach holidays and food in a healthy way! That’s huge and is worth praise all in itself.
So what tips and tricks do you guys use? And silly me, I didn’t even ask! What are you thankful for this year?! Me? I’m SO incredibly thankful for each and every one of you for letting me share my life, work and passion for clean eating with you. Thanks for reading all about my culinary adventures and for taking the time to make my recipes and leave nice comments. Hugs and Happy Holidays from Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind!