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Trimarni is place where athletes and fitness enthusiasts receive motivation, inspiration, education, counseling and coaching in the areas of nutrition, fitness, health, sport nutrition, training and life.

We emphasize a real food diet and our coaching philosophy is simple: Train hard, recover harder. No junk miles but instead, respect for your amazing body. Every time you move your body you do so with a purpose. Our services are designed with your goals in mind so that you can live an active and healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Trimarni Blog

A blog dedicated to exercise, nutrition and my life

Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

Marni Sumbal

For the first time, I am celebrating Thanksgiving with Karel as a Registered Dietitian. Therefore, it would be easy to assume that I would dedicate an entire blog or two telling everyone how to eat "healthy" on Thanksgiving.

If you have been following my blog for some time now, it is likely that you will guess what I am about to say....

"If you eat well most of the time, you don't have to worry about the rest of the time"

Although I have a few tips to help you continue with your journey of appreciating the food that you put into your body, I will ask that you do one thing for yourself on Thanksgiving and throughout this holiday season.

Focus on food vocabulary, de-emphasize calories.

It is likely that you will hear the following, either at the table, from your friends/family or in your head...
1) I shouldn't eat this, but...
2) Oh well, I already ruined my diet...
3) Ok, I guess I may as well have another because I already cheated...
4) I'm being so bad......
5) I am going to be so fat after this...
6) I am so fat, oh well...
7) I'll work it off by exercising a lot, so who cares..
8) I'll just worry about my weight when I start my diet on....

Any of these sayings sound familiar?
For me, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. A time to enjoy time with others and enjoy some occasional treats and foods that you typically de-emphasize in the diet. As I like to say, "what's ONE day if there are 365 days in a year?"

But for many people, ongoing habits often prevent people from enjoying the food around the holidays. I find it interesting that people will spend more time focusing on ways to create "good" healthy habits around special occasions but when it comes to the daily diet on the other days in the year, there is a common excuse of "oh well, I'll be better tomorrow". For when it is a child's birthday, a holiday or a time to celebrate a special event at a restaurant, it is almost as if some people striving for weight loss/maintenance will be so "strict" and worry about what they are putting into their body (as well as be overly concerned with body imagine) when when the opportunity to indulge without guilty feelings is present.

I may not be expressing myself properly because I am not the RD who will tell you how or what to eat. Rather, I want to inspire and motivate you to truely appreciate the food that you put into your body and to take a possible food obsession and turn it into a passion for living life to the fullest. So, if I could ask everyone to do one thing during this holiday season, I ask for you to rephrase sentences either in your head or when around others, if you hear negative food vocabulary.

Here are a few suggestions:
1) I shouldn't eat this, but...
I am so thankful that I have this opportunity to enjoy some occasional treats with the people who I care about the most
2) Oh well, I already ruined my diet...
I am really proud of myself for focusing on the plate method when creating my meal. It feels great to know that by filling 1/2 my plate with vegetables, 1/4 of my plate with starches and 1/4 of my plate with protein, I am able to enjoy a little of everything and not feel restricted or guilty.
3) Ok, I guess I may as well have another because I already cheated...
I am thankful that I have a balanced diet where no food is off-limit. Because I emphasize certain foods on a daily basis, I welcome this day to enjoy some occasional foods without any feeling of guilt.
4) I'm being so bad......
Knowing that my habits such as not going into a meal starving, eating protein with my meals and snacks, drinking plenty of water, reducing added sugar in my diet and focusing on wholesome foods, are keeping my blood sugar stable during the day, I actually feel great because I know I will stop eating when I am satisfied and will feel energized tomorrow.
5) I am going to be so fat after this...
I know that my weight fluctuates and not all is lost or ruined in one day or in one meal.
6) I am so fat, oh well...
I am really proud of the weight I have lost or that I have maintained my weight over the past x-weeks/months. I have a goal of _____ and I know that I will be back on track tomorrow without any feelings of guilt.
7) I'll work it off so who cares..
I know that my blood sugar levels may feel a little off tomorrow but my goal for the next few days is to keep my body moving and regardless if I am training or exercising, I am going to make good use of these calories and move my body with a healthy dose of exercise.
8) I'll just worry about my weight when I start my diet on....
I know that dieting is not a lifestyle. I am focused on creating balanced eating habits in order to live a quality life without feelings of guilt, restriction and obsession in order to reduce my risk for disease and to help increase longevity and performance.

As for those Thanksgiving Tips that can help you stay on track in your journey of appreciating food for fuel and for health....

If your body is healthy, recovering from injury/illness/disease or if you are overcoming obstacles in your life, I am sure you have plenty to be thankful for this year. Remind yourself that on this holiday, food should make you feel should the people who you choose to be around you on this holiday.
Because this holiday can present a smorgasbord of food, I prepared several do's and don'ts for Thanksgiving (or any eating-centered holiday/event) to help prepare you for a feel-good day as well as keep you on track in developing a healthy relationship with food.

In no particular order....
-DO eat breakfast. Rather than going for the daily bowl of oatmeal, cereal, toast or bagel, think low fat protein. An egg white omelet, whey protein shake, yogurt, cottage cheese or lean/veggie meat are all great options. Although turkey at your t-day dinner is high in protein, there is also an abundance of carbs on Thanksgiving. If you are choosing to do a turkey trot or some type of morning exercise (which I highly recommend!), eat your normal pre-training snack and finish your workout with a balanced, protein-rich breakfast with a smaller than normal portion of recovery carbohydrates (ex. handful of cereal with smoothie or toast w/ eggs). Certainly, starting off your day with fluctuating blood sugar levels and feeling extremely starved when your thanksgiving meal is no way for an athletic individual to set the tone for a balanced day of eating.
-Do not go long hours without eating. Again, stick to foods which will stabilize your blood sugar and will not digest too quickly. Because you should enjoy some sweet treats at your t-day meal, opt for slow digesting snacks of foods that may not be in high quantity at your meal. Foods such as veggies or fruit with protein (ex. tuna/deli meat, cottage cheese, string cheese, nuts, PB, yogurt or egg) would be great snack (and mini meal options). I recommend to stick with real-food snacks around 100-200 calories, every 2-3 hours.
-Do not go into the thanksgiving meal starving. Hungry, sure. Starving, no. Go for a small snack of your slow digesting, protein-rich food (or high fiber fruit/veggie) around 1 hour to 45 minutes before the meal is served. In order to pass on a large quantity of heavy appetizers, which can add 500+ extra calories to your daily diet before the meal is even served, choose nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and veggies, either before or with your favorite appetizers. Although I do not suggest water-replacements on a daily basis, a good choice around an hour before the meal would be a carbonated beverage, such as a flavored water or seltzer just to curb the cravings as you are anxiously awaiting the meal. Certainly, you don't want to "save" calories by drinking diet drinks all day so by snacking on nutritious options throughout the day, eating breakfast and focusing on nutrient-rich foods, you will find that if your meal is in the afternoon (ex. around 2 or 3) or in the late afternoon (4 or 5), you are going to feel in control of your eating when the meal is served.
-Do not worry about weight loss/maintenance goals. It's Thanksgiving and a day to enjoy a variety of foods that you normally wouldn't prepare or eat. Perhaps the portions may be a bit bigger and you may have more options, but 500-1000 extra calories (at a minimum) for one day is no big deal if you are focused on creating lifelong nutrition habits. You may feel a bit full compared to other days but don't let a few hundred extra calories (especially if some of your options are heart-healthy) freak you out. However, giving yourself the excuse that you can eat however much you want (to a feeling of being uncomfortable full) will only leave you feeling extremely full after the meal and perhaps doubting your ability to lose or maintain weight throughout the rest of the year. Stay focused with your portions and try to overestimate your calories for each serving that you put on your plate. You'd be surprised that you could easily eat 1000 calories at one meal from just 3 oversized portions of the green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and a piece of pie. Try to choose a little of everything and remember that leftovers on Fri, Sat and Sun are just as good as food on Thanksgiving day. Be sure to plan ahead in order to save room for dessert and pass on second portions both at the meal and with deserts. When it comes to deserts and a variety of options, share a few selections with others.
-Do use a strategy when serving yourself. I highly recommend serving yourself so that you can choose what and how much you want to eat. When it comes to platting food, use big plates for any type of vegetable or salad. Use that same plate for your protein choices as well. Use smaller plates or cups for deserts and calorie-dense side dishes. Let your brain think you are eating large portions.
-Do exercise on Thurs morning..friday morning, sat morning and sunday morning. See this day just like any other day. You don't have to train with a specific goal in mind, but I highly recommend staying active and/or exercising. Although your table may have a few more table settings and the fridge may be packed with food, USE those extra calories that you may not normally have in your body. Although you may say to yourself "I have to burn those extra calories by working out for 3+ hours" rephrase that sentence by telling yourself that this is a great time to use your fuel no matter what you are doing! Remember, it is likely the off-season for you (if you are an athlete) so you don't have to train. It is perfectly acceptable to implement a little "fat burning" aerobic exercise by working out/exercising (or be active) for an hour or two in order to get in a good sweat and enjoy your well-fueled body.
-Do plan workouts for after Thanksgiving. Plan ahead (like today) and tell yourself that you will do something active on Friday morning. You can sleep in or go early-bird shopping and still go for a walk, bike ride, swim or run Friday. Or, get up before your family and go for a ride on your trainer or walk/run on your treadmill. Ever eat too much on the night before a race, sleep horribly the night before a race and then wake up on race day morning regretting that you had too much to eat? Thanksgiving is kinda like that. It's really easy to feel great when you are eating but then feel too sluggish and full on the days after. By having a plan for activity, you may reduce the tendency to eat until you are stuffed and will find yourself eating until you feel satisfied. Remember, walking counts as physical activity and can be a great "exercise" for the whole family.
-Do not think all is ruined because of one day/meal. Maybe you didn't lose the weight you wanted to this past season/year. Maybe you are "feeling" a bit heavy (I don't like the word fat) at the moment. Maybe you are dreading all those "unhealthy" foods that are going to presented to you at your meal. Although this is Thanksgiving, this is just another day...out of 365 days in a year. You can still use the wisdom, knowledge and education that you have acquired to make good choices on Thanksgiving and the days, weeks and months that follow.Don't forget about your good food and body imagine vocabulary!
-Do have a go-to food. This is something I believe in for all events and functions. If you are holding Thanksgiving at your home, it is easy to plan what you will prepare, what you will eat and how much food you have to choose from. However, when attending Thanksgiving at a neighbors house, family members house or at a friend of a friend's house, it may seem stressful to maintain your daily healthy eating plan if nothing healthy is available. No matter where you go for Thanksgiving (or an event) bring a go-to meal ANDside item for you to feel good about. Maybe you choose to make your own healthy version of a sweet potato or green bean casserole or maybe you want to bring your own steamed veggies or a bowl of fruit. Regardless of whatever you bring, you will have something to look forward to when platting your plate with a variety of foods.
-Do give thanks. I know it sounds cliche but it is a great holiday to give thanks to the people in your life who support you, encourage you, motivate you and inspire you. Send a text, email, phone call or in person, in order to give thanks to those who have made an impact in your life. Certainly, we all have people around us that we should probably thank more than just one day a year. Specifically to all the friends and family members of marathoners, half ironman and ironman athletes out there....LOTS of thanks to you all, who put up with "us" alongside our long training days and semi-bonk training sessions. Rather than thinking about all the food you will eat, take this time to give thanks to those around you as well as to your body, which allows you to reach finishing lines and to see another day.

Happy Thanksgiving!