With the holidays season just beginning, there’s plenty to look forward to; cooler weather, spending time with family, and comforting food. With all the coming celebrations like Thanksgiving, food might be one of the most important parts of the season. Between the traditional turkey dinner and sweet apple pies, Thanksgiving offers some of the most beloved dishes for families across the country. On a holiday with a focus on family and food, why not splurge and enjoy everything you can?
While Thanksgiving is known for the chance to load your plate with food, being mindful about keeping a well-balanced plate can help you be mindful during the holidays. Between substituting ingredients for lighter options and taking care to be thoughtful about when you feel full, there are plenty of opportunities on Thanksgiving to pay attention to what you eat. That being said, don’t go overboard limiting yourself! When it comes to treating your body right, don’t be afraid to enjoy all your favorites on Thanksgiving.
Not sure what to do this Thanksgiving to keep up with your family’s lifestyle? Check out some of our favorite tips below so you’re ready to tackle the holiday season.
AllPeople’s Top Tips for a Mindful Holiday
1: Go the extra mile in the morning
Before the evening festivities begin, start your day off strong. Although Thanksgiving dinner is likely the highlight of the day, encourage your family to wake up and get moving in the morning. Grab a warm drink, a comfy pair of shoes, and get outside before you prepare for the night ahead. Whether you prefer a walk around the neighborhood or a hike to enjoy the fall foliage, get the whole family involved with a fun way to work out. Don’t forget a camera to capture all the memories from the day!
Even though it might be difficult to get outside on such a busy day, don’t make getting active a chore. Instead, get the whole family involved and make it an exciting Thanksgiving tradition you can carry on year after year. You’ll have a chance to enjoy time to bond with your family before a hectic evening so everyone can truly get into the Thanksgiving spirit. Besides, getting a workout and burning some calories before dinner might make you feel better about enjoying a meal where you intend to treat yourself! You’ll feel better when dinner time comes around, meaning you can focus on enjoying your food and spending time with your friends and family.
2: Start a new tradition with plant-based products
If you enjoy plant-based products, Thanksgiving might have a couple challenges when dinner time comes around. Between the traditional turkey, ham, and even buttery mashed potatoes, sticking to a plant-based diet over the holidays might mean you are used to limiting your options at the dinner table. But with the recent plant-based meat craze, keeping your usual diet might not be as difficult after all!
There are plenty of options to keep Thanksgiving traditions around while still choosing plant-based options. Looking for a turkey option? Tofurky is almost exactly what it sounds like; a turkey made of tofu, wheat, and seasoning instead of meat. It’s designed to have the same flavor and texture of a real turkey, so you can still keep up the tradition of having a Thanksgiving ‘turkey’ without giving up your plant-based diet.
Not sure what to do about meat in other popular Thanksgiving dishes? Other plant-based meat brands like Impossible and Beyond Meat have got you covered. Whether you’re looking for a substantial addition to stuffing or a casserole, plant-based meat can help you keep on track with your normal diet. Even though a plant-based Thanksgiving might sound nearly impossible, there are plenty of plant-based substitutions to help you have a mindful Thanksgiving and possibly start a new family tradition!
3: Don’t forget your first meal
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there’s no reason to forget that even on Thanksgiving. While you might be tempted to skip breakfast that day out of anticipation for the food-filled evening ahead, missing the first meal could keep you from starting off your day strong. While it’s true that you’ll probably find yourself far hungrier in the evening if you miss a meal, you may find yourself over-eating later. By keeping yourself from eating any food all day, you could have a more difficult time controlling how much you eat and making mindful decisions at the dinner table. Besides, eating breakfast means you’ll be able to enjoy your food instead of eating as much as possible to satisfy your hunger.
Instead of skipping breakfast entirely, settle for a lighter meal to prepare yourself to indulge at the Thanksgiving dinner ahead. Try yogurt with fruit and granola if you still want something a little sweet to celebrate the day. If you’re worried about making sure your food is enough to hold you over for the next few hours, try a toasted bagel with your favorite nut butter. Do you find yourself feeling a little extra festive on Thanksgiving morning? Make your own pumpkin oatmeal. Cook your oats according to the package, then mix in just a few simple ingredients: pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and a pinch of cloves. Feel free to top it off with fresh fruit, walnuts, brown sugar, or milk. With just a few simple ingredients, you can make yourself the perfect Thanksgiving breakfast that’s easy as (pumpkin) pie!
4: Search for mindful substitutions
Whether you follow a recipe or know how to cook your favorite Thanksgiving dish by heart, you might be able to find an ingredient or two to replace with something lighter. Maybe it’s taking an opportunity to reduce the amount of sodium or lower the number of calories in a meal, or maybe it’s simply choosing to buy organic meats rather than the standard brand. Wondering where to substitute? Try using unsalted chicken stock instead of regular chicken stock to keep track of just how much sodium is going into your dish. You can also replace your sour cream with a low-fat or fat-free alternative. When it comes to choosing your produce or meats, go with organics to avoid preservatives or unnatural hormones.
While substitutions might make your Thanksgiving meal feel more mindful, there’s nothing wrong with splurging over the holidays. Even though you might replace some items to have a mindful holiday, don’t hold back on your favorite foods. Sometimes, that cranberry sauce or pie you crave once a year can’t be beat, and that’s okay!
5: Pay attention to portions
When it comes time to pile up your plate with food for Thanksgiving dinner, pay attention to the portions you put on your plate. Yes, the spread laid out on the table might look tempting enough to take a huge helping of everything, but you’ll only end up full before you get the chance to enjoy it all. Instead, start with small servings of your favorite foods so you enjoy what matters most to you. Not only is it helpful to take small amounts of food, but listening to your body will help you feel better throughout the night by preventing you from overeating. Besides, you’ll want to save room for dessert!
If you’re planning to cook at all on Thanksgiving, consider making a pre-portioned dish. Some dishes can be adjusted to make portion-sized versions, especially desserts. Try making smaller desserts like cupcakes or cookies. If you’re a stickler for pie, consider making mini pies in cupcake baking trays. Your food will be much easier to serve for lots of people and look even cuter than the regular version!
6: Start with seasonal produce
Everyone knows eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a great way to maintain a balanced diet, so why not incorporate that into your Thanksgiving dinner? Check out foods like squash, cranberries, carrots, kale, or spinach to make your food really feel festive. Because these foods are seasonal for fall, they’ll taste better too! Try to make dishes highlighting your favorite fall fruits and vegetables so everyone can enjoy the season while keeping up a mindful diet.
Looking for a place to start? Try incorporating squash into a soup, like butternut squash. Glazed carrots also make a great Thanksgiving dish and carry a lot of fall flavor. Kale and spinach will make a tasty salad, and you can even add cranberries to really embrace the season. If you want to incorporate seasonal food but want something a little more filling, make your own cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. Don’t be afraid to make your own! When you bake or cook from scratch, you eliminate the preservatives and additives found in most store-bought brands. Besides, cooking with the family can become a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition and something everyone can look forward to enjoying. Once your home-cooked food is ready, you’ll have a tasty dish to share with the family and you’ll give the kids a sense of pride for helping out. What better way to celebrate a holiday focusing on thankfulness?
7: Drink plenty of water
Whether you enjoy a cocktail, wine, beer, or maybe just a classic sparkling cider, don’t forget to balance out the sugar and alcohol with water. The holidays are often known for their sugary drinks and alcohol, but sometimes switching off between drinks can help you be mindful throughout your evening. For the adults, switch off between water and alcohol. Plain water might not sound as thrilling on a holiday, so don’t be afraid to spice it up a little. Add fresh lemon and mint to make an easy flavorful drink without all the extra calories or use sparkling water instead of flat water. Encourage yourself to finish a glass of water before you pour your next drink to keep yourself feeling good the whole night long.
Don’t forget about the kids when it comes to drinking water! The drinks offered for the younger members of your family of Thanksgiving might have quite a bit of sugar, especially for items like juice boxes, apple cider, and hot chocolate. Teach your kids mindful habits by asking them to drink water before or after they finish their sweet drinks. If they’re not too fond of plain water, offer to make it a little “fancy” for them. Just like with your own non-alcoholic drinks, you can add lemon or a splash of plain fruit juice to their water. Combining sparkling water with a little fruit juice might make a fun and easy drink for them to enjoy as well.
No matter how you choose to spend your holiday, the AllPeople team wishes you a happy Thanksgiving! This holiday, we’re grateful for your support. Thank you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving with the people you love!