Healthy Thanksgiving: Mindful Eating

Thanksgiving is coming up this week, which often marks the beginning of an over-indulgent holiday season. However, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean weight gain or strict restraint; there is a way to keep this holiday enjoyable and healthy. The holidays are a time to spend with friends and loved ones, and taking the main focus off of food and placing it on the time you spend together can help you avoid overeating. Practicing mindful eating during the holidays and throughout the year gives you the chance to enjoy the food you eat without feeling uncomfortable full or like you’re missing out on the foods you love.

It helps to think of Thanksgiving as a normal day when it comes to how you’ll eat. Don’t “save up your appetite” for just one huge meal; start your day off with a good breakfast. Starving yourself will only encourage you to eat more since you’ll arrive at dinner hungry and focused on little other than the food.  When you start to fill your plate, check out all of your options and consider these tips:

  • Don’t fill up on bread – save your appetite for the special dishes, like stuffing or pie, that you only have on Thanksgiving.
  • Start with small portions – you can always go back for seconds!
  • Eat slowly – savor the food you’re eating.
  • Sit at the table – watching the game or the parade can distract you from enjoying your food, and you may not realize how much you’re eating.
  • Stop when you are comfortable – you don’t need to eat until you feel stuffed. There will probably be plenty of leftovers for you to enjoy when you’re hungry again!

You can use the same ideas if you plan to attend multiple Thanksgiving celebrations. Pick the best dish at each gathering, and only eat as much as you feel comfortable with.

Remembering the original intent of the holiday is a great way to start the day, and might even make it a more satisfying day as we shift the focus to some of the non-food aspects of the holiday. If you do overeat, don’t feel guilty and don’t give up on eating healthy at your next meal or snack. Think of every day as a fresh start to make healthy choices.

Cone Health understands the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle to increase and ensure overall well-being and has an exceptional team of dietitians, physicians, nurses and other related healthcare providers dedicated to educating our community on proper nutrition and other beneficial lifestyle choices.

Physician Background:

Laura Watson is a registered dietician specializing in pediatric nutrition at the Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center. Laura received a Bachelor of Science in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007 and earned a Master of Science in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2009.