In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to share my top ten tips for making your Thanksgiving as happy and healthy as possible:
1. Make a thankful list
This tip shouldn’t be too big of a surprise, given that it’s Thanksgiving! Write down each and every single thing in your life that you’re thankful for. Keep it in your pocket and take a look at it whenever you start to feel overwhelmed throughout the day.
2. Plan some healthy activity
Schedule two quick, brisk walks outside: One prior to eating, and one a little while following the meal. Make sure you stick to a schedule so you don’t feel tempted to overdo it. Take your first walk shortly before the meal, and have an activity planned for a certain time after your post-dinner walk (try the game listed in tip number 8!).
3. Get support
This tip is an oldie, but goodie: It’s important to have someone by your side who you know you can talk to if you start to feel anxious!
4. Scan the offerings
Check out what’s being served before you grab a plate. That way you can think about how you can have a balanced meal that includes the foods you like best. If you need to, talk to your “support person” about what to choose.
5. Be mindful while eating
This one doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. Eat at an appropriate pace, enjoy your food, and listen to your body!
6. Scan your surroundings
Especially if you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed, remember to look around at the people in the room with you: What do you love about them? Why are you thankful to have them in your lives? The holiday is about so much more than the food!
7. Start a conversation
Get involved with the wonderful people celebrating with you, rather than worrying about all the food. Try to enjoy the experience! If you’re not sure what to talk about, here are a few conversation starters to try: What are the top three things you’re thankful for this year? Are you doing any “Black Friday” shopping? When are you going to start decorating for Christmas? What’s the number one thing on your Christmas list? What has your family been up to lately?
8. Play the “Thankful Game”
Put each person’s name on an index card, and then put all cards into a big hat or bowl. Have each person draw someone else’s name, and then write something they’re thankful for about that person on the back of the card. Collect all of the cards and then hand each person’s card to them so they can read it. You can keep this anonymous, or have everyone read their cards out loud and then try to guess who wrote about them!
9. Take breaks if you need to
There are no rules that you have to be surrounded with your entire family at all times. If you need to, take a break or two to sit in a quiet room on your own. Meditate, pray, breathe deeply, or reread the list you made of the things you’re thankful for. Then go back and enjoy your company!
10. Trust your body, and yourself
As long as you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be able to have a healthy, happy, balanced holiday. And even if you don’t eat exactly the way you’d like, remember that it’s just one day. You will be able to get back on track tomorrow. Your body is intelligent, and as long as you stay mindful of what your body needs, you will always stay in great shape!