Thanksgiving is just around the corner. How do you deal with all the food? The pressure of all the cooking and serving is stressful, but overeating doesn’t help. No point in overeating and feeling stuffed. Find ways to make the holiday joyful and healthy.
Add a little Ayurveda style healthy eating to the mix to stay connected and on track. This video explains my challenge with the Thanksgiving feast and how I moved my holiday towards healthy eating.
Traditional Thanksgiving Table
I come from a big family and our Thanksgiving is filled with old recipes made lovingly by me and my sisters. It used to be a holiday based on excess, we would make way too much food, a pie per grown up (OMG!). I would ignore what I know to be true for my body, eat with abandon and often regret it.
It is easy to overeat during the holidays. Most of the traditional Thanksgiving foods are laden with too much… sugar, wheat, dairy and eggs… you name it. Sweet and salty are way over represented in the six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent). Often my unhealthy eating would stretch beyond the day to finish up the leftovers.
I needed to stop the madness.
These heavy foods just don’t make me feel good and I don’t enjoy them anymore. So I needed to interject a little Ayurveda style healthy eating into my family Thanksgiving. Food is such a connector; it is often hard to refuse without it becoming a big deal. Standing up for yourself you end up feeling isolated from the people you care about.
Thanksgiving means Appreciation of Family
So I set a initial goal to add what I needed most and figure out ways to enjoy the day. My goals now are to be happy during dinner, engage in a positive way with my family, eat until satisfied, skip the food coma, enjoy a family walk, and wake up the next day feeling great.
Over the last few years I have developed some strategies to help me enjoy the connections and traditions forged by food, as well as allow everyone healthier choices. The six tastes get sprinkled into the foods I bring so everyone gets the boost in flavor and digestion.
Here are some of the new Thanksgiving traditions for my family.
11 Strategies for an Ayurvedic Thanksgiving Meal
- Move Thanksgiving to lunch to support optimal digestion.
- Put any fruit up front. Introduce fresh fruit as an appetizer. Add a little mint to green it up. Have a little gap between the fruit and the main course.
- Make the Turkey as fresh and healthy as possible. Stuff the fresh bird with spice, herbs and veggies rather than stuffing to boost flavor and enhance digestion.
- Skip the cranberry sauce, Try a fermented cranberry chutney everyone will love it.
- Bake a clean dessert, a pumpkin custard no sugar added. Dizzle some honey or maple syrup on top.
- Add a new green vegetable to the offering. I added steamed Asparagus, and Brussels Sprouts drizzled with lemon. These don’t displace the green bean casserole, but provide now well-loved alternatives.
- Add mineral water with bitters to sip during or after the meal. Slow down and enjoy each bite.
- Slow down and enjoy each bite.
- Invite everyone on a walk after Thanksgiving dinner. 20 or 30 minutes of walk and talk before the couch and football claims everyone.
- Bring a tea to help digestion for after our walk. Coriander, Cumin and Fennel tea or Ginger tea work great for me.
- Enjoy a really green eating day or a liquid day on Black Friday to balance the heaviness of Thanksgiving dinner.
Bring Ayurveda Style Healthier Eating Guidelines to Your Thanksgiving Table
Start simply by adding fresh organic whole seasonal foods to your table as a family Thanksgiving contribution. Just bring these new ideas to the table and help people enjoy the day. Because I introduced changes over a number of years, it wasn’t a shock to anyone. Meeting in the middle works much better than making your own separate meal. The joy of being with people I love in community is a much healthier sweet sensation. I actually take pleasure in the conversation.
There are still plenty of traditional foods on the table. So I choose not to eat everything that is served. I skip the 10 or so kinds of pies on the dessert table! But with these simple changes, there are choices within the context of tradition that really work for me.
Is your family ready to try any of these? Are you ready to choose healthier options than stuffing and gravy, more living and green foods for everyday and your holiday?
Share how you manage your food on the holidays in the comments below.