I grew up in a large family. There were a lot of us.. We never had a lot, but we always had each other. With a large family, Thanksgiving was always an event. The amazing thing about Thanksgiving was, although we never had a lot, whenever one of our friends came by because, maybe they didn’t have a large family or any family, my mother always made a place at the table for them and at that moment they were family.
I can close my eyes and be sitting in the living room with my brothers, talking about sports and the games we played in the park together. We talked about girls and who liked who, while the smell the turkey, my father started cooking the night before began filling the place.
I can still see my mother in the kitchen making her world famous cornbread stuffing, sweet potato pies, potato salad, mac & cheese and the list goes on. I remember my sister and her friends who came by to help cook and just be a part of a large loving gathering. Everybody is laughing, sharing, being there with and enjoying each other.
It’s amazing how far not having much could go. That is what Thanksgiving is about. It’s about sharing. Food is the thing we talk about most, but the love you extend is what made the food even better right?
Things will be very different across the country this year. According to the CDC, the COVID-19 epidemic (No longer a pandemic) is worsening, and small household gatherings are considered an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Gone is the idea of physically getting together with your family and friends. The idea of sharing hugs and kisses with your mom, your dad, your brothers and sisters and old friends is a fleeting one. Human beings crave and seek human contact. The physical touch of a loved one is an important part of the connections we wait all year to have.
This year that won’t be the case. There are many many restrictions recommended by the CDC. You can read about them in the link below. With so many restrictive recommendations, including smaller and shorter gatherings, now is a good time to think about changing your eating habits.
If you are already wearing a mask, and checking your temperature in order to stay healthy, should not your food choices change to something that will also make you healthier?
Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving
You’ve been planning on this event for a long time. You can almost taste the great cooking that’s coming and you should enjoy it. After all, like Martin said, “Not my momma biscuits, Gina! Not my mommas biscuits. J
So you should enjoy the festivities, If you’re lucky enough to make it home and the spread is out then yes by all means enjoy the food. I used to love my mommas stuffing, her potato salad, Mac&Cheese… all of it. I loved it so much I would overeat. I would stuff myself till the turkey and I looked like relatives lol. I have since learned that you can enjoy the things in front of you, if you learn to eat them in the proper portions
. Research has shown that people consistently eat more food when offered larger portions. So portion control is important when you’re trying to lose weight, keep it off and maintain a healthy eating lifestyle.
A portion is the amount of food you put on your plate, Now, more than ever, is the time to practice portion control. Portion control is important because it helps you:
- Digest food easier.
- Reach or maintain a healthy weight.. …
- Stay energized throughout the day.
- Control blood sugar levels.
Thanksgiving, for many, is a time to get together with family and friends. We share precious memories with our loved ones, remember fondly those who are not here with us any longer. These are reverent times and these moments should be savored.
A great place to savor these moments is while you are eating together. In certain countries and cultures, a meal can last for hours. People sit around a table with their extended families and talk, eat, and drink until late in the evening..
The way to do this is by eating slowly. By slowing down your meal, you will gain these health and wellness benefits:
- Increased Food Satisfaction
When you eat more slowly you will experience more of the flavors, textures, and smells of the food you eat. You will enjoy the taste of the food more.
- Weight Loss
When you take longer to eat you’ll notice that you are full sooner and don’t need that extra bite. In fact, slower eating is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI)
- Allows for Social Connection
Thanksgiving is a social event enhanced by good food. So take the time to enjoy the social interactions you’ve traveled far to have. Eating slowly will allow you do just that.
By taking more time at a meal, you’ll be able to talk to your friends and family more, improve relationships, and feel more connected.
- Avoid Becoming Overstuffed
Researchers have found that it takes your stomach about 20 minutes to produce the hormones that tell your brain that you are full.
If you slow down, you give yourself more time to feel satisfied. This gives you a better chance of stopping before you “get stuffed.” Remember, this could be a long evening so there will be time for more later.
Also if you’re like my family, there’s always a plate or two or three to take home.
- Improved Digestion
When eating too fast, you will find yourself suffering from indigestion. Instead, take 20 minutes to eat the same amount of food. Your stomach will have a much easier time digesting your meal.
I discovered you don’t have to eat a whole turkey to enjoy the taste. You don’t have to eat an entire pie to enjoy the taste. If you have small portions and eat slowly you can enjoy the taste just as much,
These are two biggies, because they will allow you to enjoy the holiday without feeling you can’t participate..
Other Great Tips.
- Get Active
Try a little exercise to burn some calories before you dinner.
- Skip the Seconds
Try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings. Leftovers are much better the next day, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you are less likely to overeat and have more room for those “Treats” (like my momma’s biscuits Gina)
- Go Easy on Alcohol
Don’t forget those alcohol calories that can add up quickly.
- Be Realistic and Clever
With so many tempting foods being offered, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.
- Create a Healthy Plate.
A good rule is half of your plate should be vegetables (carrots, green beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, a quarter of your plate should be carbohydrates and starches (Potato salad, Mac & Cheese, stuffing etc.), and a quarter should be protein (turkey).
For those with Diabetes
For people with diabetes, Thanksgiving can be a challenging time. People with diabetes don’t have the luxury of not caring, even for one day, when it comes to what they eat. Trying to severly restrict yourself can leave you feeling like your left out of the festivities.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. Remember your family and friends love you. That counts for a lot, because they will understand and will accommodate your dietary needs.
The biggest Thanksgiving challenge people with diabetes face is the variety of high carbohydrate food choices readily available. A typical Thanksgiving meal can include macaroni and cheese, candied sweet potatoes, turkey, stuffing and pies.
But If you practice the above tips you will be okay. Don’t deprive yourself and don’t feel left out, but please do not overindulge! If you follow the above tips,portion control and eating slowly these strategies will prevent you from overindulging.
Try these tips as well:
- Plan ahead.
plan what you’re going to eat and how much. Diabetes or not, excessive amounts of anything unhealthy should be avoided. Remember to match the insulin you take to the food you eat.
Remember to plan ahead with your insulin when eating high carbohydrate foods.
- Eat in moderation.
You can have mashed potatoes, gravy and turkey and the trimmings, Just make sure you’re not piling it on. A good rule is to make half your plate vegetables, one-quarter protein and one-quarter carbohydrates.
Remember also, you don’t have to eat everything in one sitting. If you make your plate sensible and follow the USDA’s Choose My Plate recommendation, (which Diet Rite also recommends) Then you can conceivably add a different carb treat each time you make a plate!
- Fill up on vegetables.
Diabetes Research Institute Foundation says. You can eat as many veggies you want – as long as you stick to the right ones (green beans, carrots, broccoli or Brussels sprouts). I myself am a broc-a-holic. Carrots can be sweet so be mindful.
Remember that winter squash, pumpkin, acorn squash and butternut squash are all carbohydrates, While you don’t have to avoid these foods, they shouldn’t include them with the non-starchy vegetables you can eat freely.
- Check your blood sugar often.
Managing your blood sugar every day is important, but more so on Thanksgiving. It is recommended that you check your blood sugar two hours after you finish eating, and every hour or so after that.
About two hours is required for the food to be digested and enter the blood stream, so this time frame gives a good picture of how the meal is being processed by the body.
Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time, if you’re fortunate enough to get together with family, friends to share memories, laughs and great food. Some of us may not be so fortunate, because of Covid restrictions, or perhaps, those loved ones are no longer here.
If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by family and friends, enjoy the moment. Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, and enjoy the meals you or someone worked so hard to make for your enjoyment. Remember to stay safe and have a Thanksgiving that is memorable and healthy.
Hopefully the tips we shared will help you achieve this. For our friends and members who are dealing with diabetes, remember to read and try these tips and have a safe, healthy and great Thanksgiving.