Ahhh…Thanksgiving – A fat kid’s dream! A whole holiday focused on a feast. It could also be a bariatric’s nightmare. The family you haven’t seen in awhile asking you questions, commenting on your appearance and maybe even watching what you eat. You may start to feel self-conscious, which may prompt emotional eating. However, you don’t have to worry about overeating this year because you are going to make a plan to combat this situation, and I’m going to walk you through it. You’ll get plenty of sleep and prepare a bariatric-friendly dessert as well. Ready to begin? Avoid overindulging this Thanksgiving by creating a plan to deal with the bounty of food.
The Week Before Thanksgiving
To prepare for the smorgasbord of food this Thanksgiving, we need to spend a little time preparing for it. If you’re anything like me, you eat pretty much the same meal each year. You know what to expect. You’re going to use this information to your advantage and go to bed Thursday night feeling satisfied that you have conquered your overeating demons.
Print Out the Accompanying Worksheet
The first thing you’ll want to do to start your plan to avoid overindulging on Thanksgiving is to print out the worksheet mentioned below. This worksheet is going to guide you through the rest of this post and will allow you to come up with your plan as you read. It’s going to help you stay focused and on track, so hurry up and print out your worksheet so we can get started!
Because I know that even the best of intentions mean nothing if you don’t act on it, I created your Thanksgiving Day Planner. Simply fill out the form below to get it delivered straight to your inbox and follow along with today’s post. Plus, you’ll get some other free goodies that I know you’ll just love!
What Do You Really Want to Eat?
I love food as much as the next bariatric, so our first step in figuring out our plan to avoid overindulging on Thanksgiving is to think about what we really want to eat. What is our favorite food to eat on Thanksgiving that we look forward to each year? Is it the turkey? The filling/stuffing/dressing? The sweet potatoes? Whatever it is, I want you to decide that you are going to have a controlled portion of that food, and eat it first. So decide what it is you really want to eat.
The Week of Thanksgiving
The week of turkey day really starts our plan to avoid overindulging on Thanksgiving. We are going to prepare for Thursday by starting on Sunday with some preparation to keep our minds and willpower muscles strong. You’re going to need this willpower when you are confronted with your buffet of delicious food.
You’ve heard me say this before, and you’ll hear me say it again: get plenty of sleep, this week in particular. You see, it’s much easier to resist cravings when we are well-rested. A Harvard special Report called “Lose Weight and Keep It Off” states that a lack of sleep can disrupt the hormones that control hunger and appetite.
Not getting enough sleep can also mean you lose muscle mass instead of body fat, according to the report. Losing muscle mass means your metabolism will slow down. So this week, I really want you to concentrate on getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. It will help your willpower and motivation when you have to resist some pretty tempting foods.
Eat All Your Meals
You may think that skipping meals this week will create a calorie deficit for Thursday so you can overindulge on Thanksgiving. However, this really doesn’t work. When you skip a meal, you’re really just confusing your body more, and it will start to hold onto calories rather than burn them. Instead, this week, eat as you normally do, making sure you’re avoiding drinking 30 minutes before and after your meals.
Another tip I’m always writing about is staying hydrated. It’s so, so important to stay hydrated. If you need tips to drink more water, check out this post. Dehydration is a leading cause of hospital readmission after surgery. Staying hydrated means your body and mind can work at optimal levels. We need both to be strong in preparation for Thursday. Aim for 60 to 80 ounces of fluid each day this week. Remember that liquids like protein shakes, sugar-free ice pop, sugar-free gelatin and broth count towards your daily liquid goals.
This week, we’re going to practice gratitude. I have a post coming up about how to be grateful for your new life. In it, I encourage you to keep a daily gratitude journal, where you write down something good that happens to you each day. By actively practicing gratitude, you won’t be upset about missing out on some of the food you won’t be able to eat this year. Each day this week, write down something you’re grateful for having and watch your blessing multiply. This practice is one that’s good to continue throughout the year, as it can help reduce that comparison trap we often find ourselves. I like to use my Living Well Planner for this daily practice.
The Day Before Thanksgiving
So you’ve spent the week getting ready for this big feast and celebration, and suddenly it’s the night before Thanksgiving. You’ve already gotten plenty of sleep, eaten all your meals and stayed hydrated this week, as well as practiced gratitude daily. On Wednesday, you’re going to continue those habits but also prepare a bariatric-friendly dessert. If you’re anything like me, you have a bit of a sweet tooth. Having some kind of dessert prepared that I can eat allows me to feel included in the holiday without making me sick. Here are some options for you:
Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie
This recipe from BariatricEating.com sounds delicious. It’s the classic pumpkin pie recipe without the sugar. Pumpkin pie is a classic Thanksgiving-dish, and now you can enjoy it without the worry of dumping. As a word of caution, some patients can dump on artificial sweeteners, so proceed with caution. You can check it by clicking here.
No-Flour, Sugar-Free Snickerdoodles
Oh, is it really the holidays without snickerdoodles? These cinnamon-sugary treats are definitely a favorite of mine. Thankfully, BariatricFoodie.com has a wonderful recipe that mimics the delicious taste we so love. Try making some of these cookies by checking out this recipe.
Pumpkin Protein Muffins
Shelly from The World According to Eggface never lets me down with recipes. These particular muffins sound really good and remind me of the fall season. Perhaps you could try these as your dessert for Thursday to help you avoid overindulging on Thanksgiving. Check out the recipe here.
The Morning of Thanksgiving
Turkey day is here! You must put your plan in action today so that your motivation is high to avoid overindulging on Thanksgiving. Before we can get to the big meal though, we’re going to spend some time focusing on us and our goals to keep up motivated.
First, get a good workout in the morning of Thanksgiving. A lot of places have a Turkey Trot 5k on Thursday morning. If running isn’t your thing, then at least get a good workout. It will keep you motivated to avoid the empty calories you’ll be tempted to consume later in the day.
Eat a protein-rich breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausage, whatever kind of protein you like. Just make sure you don’t skip breakfast and make sure it’s high in protein. This trick will keep you fuller for longer, making you less tempted to eat unhealthy foods later in the day.
I know we talked about hydration earlier, but it’s so important today. You’ll be running around, talking with family, and you may forget to drink. So remember to carry your water bottle with you, so that you can drink at least 64 ounces of water today. It also means you’ll be drinking less of other drinks like beer, wine or other sugary-drinks, so you’re saving calories. It will also keep you fuller for longer. Just make sure you stop drinking 30 minutes before your big meal and wait 30 minutes after your meal to drink again.
If you’re cooking dinner and susceptible to nibbling all morning, chew sugar-free gum. This will keep your mouth occupied so that you won’t be tempted to try every single thing you cook. Those little bites, licks and tastes add up quickly. Since we have precious real estate in our stomachs, we need to save that room for the delicious meal you’ve been cooking and not waste it on bites.
During the Meal
Ok, so here is where the going gets tough. This year, you are going to avoid overindulging on Thanksgiving. You have been preparing since last week, and it’s time to put your plan into action. You can do this! Whenever I have to psych myself up for an event where I’m going to be tempted to eat the foods that will make me sick, I always say to myself, “You’ve had 30 years to eat those foods and look where it landed you. You’ve spent the last few years rediscovering who you are and losing all that weight. You don’t need that cake/pie/cookie.” It’s amazing what a little pep talk can do to your motivation. I do have a few more tips for you though:
Use a Side Plate
Since we can’t eat as much food as we used to be able to eat, fill a side plate with the foods you decided beforehand that you wanted. When the side plate is full, you stop. You’ll trick your mind into thinking you’re eating more, but really you’re just sticking to your bariatric lifestyle. The rest of your family will be too busy shoveling food in their faces to even realize you’re using a side plate instead of the full dinner plate.
Slow Down and Savor
Put your fork down between bites. Talk and genuinely listen to the conversation. I realized that I never participated in holiday family discussions because I was always too busy shoveling the delicious food in my mouth. Now, I get to slow down and savor my food. I get to actively participate in what’s happening around me, and you can do it too. Enjoy the taste of the food in your mouth. Savor each precious bite that you do get and rejoice that you get to choose only the foods you really love.
Brush Your Teeth
There’s nothing like that clean fresh feeling of a freshly-brushed mouth. When you finish your meal, brush your teeth. This will encourage you not to go for seconds or dessert right away because you don’t want to ruin that freshly-cleaned feeling. If you know you’ll be tempted to eat seconds, then get up and brush your teeth. I know it sounds crazy, but trust me. It works.
Eat According to Plan
Remember last week when you wrote down the one food you’ve been looking forward to the most at Thanksgiving? Yep, I want that food to be the first food you eat. I want you to savor it for as long as possible. Eat it in a controlled amount. To avoid overindulging on Thanksgiving, you need to be able to enjoy what you do get to eat. So eat that food first, even if it’s not your protein, so that way you are sure you get to enjoy your favorite food.
Enjoy Your Dessert
A few hours after dinner when you’ve given your stomach time to digest that delicious food, you can enjoy your bariatric-friendly dessert. You don’t even need to tell people that it’s bariatric-friendly because they probably won’t notice the difference. Get yourself a serving of your dessert and savor each and every bite.
Avoid Overindulging on Thanksgiving
Now that you’ve taken time to prepare for the smorgasbord you’re about to confront, you can feel confident that you won’t overindulge on Thanksgiving. You’ll get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated while practicing gratitude. You’ll be excited to try a bariatric-friendly dessert. The morning of Thanksgiving, eat a high-protein breakfast and have a great workout. Most importantly, you’ll spend the day enjoying the company of your family without being chained to food. You have freedom now in your new life. Embrace it and be grateful for this opportunity. Enjoy your Thanksgiving day without worrying about messing up all the progress you’ve made or getting sick. I’m so proud of you for sticking to your commitment and making a plan to get there. Amazing work!
If this article gave you some great ideas to incorporate into your life, just imagine what other amazing strategies I have for you! Share this post on social media by clicking one of the sharing buttons, and don’t forget to join my email list! You’ll be the first to get updates, access to my new products and lots of tips, inspiration and motivation to help in your bariatric surgery journey. Just for joining, I’ll send you a free Bariatric Beginner’s Guide to get you started, as well as some other pretty awesome goodies to keep you motivated. Join today!
1. Prepare a plan before Thanksgiving so you know what you’re going to eat
2. Eat a protein-rich breakfast
3. Get a good workout in the morning
4. Use a side plate instead of the larger dinner plate
5. Practice gratitude for what you can consume.
6. Brush your teeth as soon as you’re full. You’ll be less tempted to get seconds and dessert.
7. Stay hydrated
8. Eat only what you really want
9. Chew gum while cooking to prevent you from having bites, licks and tastes.
Make a plan and stick with it. Decide beforehand which food you really want to eat, and eat that one first. Slow down and savor it. Use a small side plate instead of a large dinner plate for your meal. Prepare a healthy dessert so you don’t feel left out. With a little planning and determination, you can stop overeating on holidays.