A Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving Checklist

Hi all and happy pre-Thanksgiving! Yeah, I can’t believe Thanksgiving is this week, either.

And that’s really the reason for this post. I feel time has flown. And sometimes that sped-up pace is pressure-filled. Do you ever feel like it’s impossible to accomplish all the things?

Yeah, me too.

In the middle of a pretty packed month, I’ve been feeling some pressure to share a world-rocking recipe (or 5) with you and make 25 dishes from scratch, all on Thursday morning. And that feeling wasn’t inspiring a lot of gratitude. So this morning I took a look at my mind (yes, I can take it out like a piece of Mr. Potato Head’s face) and looked at it, and decided to change things up in at least two ways.

First, I’m giving some real thanks. Real gratitude has nothing to do with Turkey or stuffing or cranberry sauce made from scratch. It is looking at our blessings and really appreciating them. This week on the old FB I am sharing one gratitude a day for a week. Chime in please or share yours in the comments here!

Also, I’m letting go of the urgent need to create new and complicated food recipes, and instead offer you a recipe for enjoying your time this week. Yep, there are thousands upon thousands of creative recipes for Thanksgiving out there already, some of them are even on this web site! Instead, I’d like to offer my two cents for actually enjoying your time, family and a little indulgence, all while staying true to yourself and your healthy goals. So here goes.

1. Keep it Simple

I know, you love creating fancy food, new recipes make your heart sing and traditional ones are expected. Me too. But I’ve noticed something over the past few years. I really don’t care about the food on this day! Yes, I like to present offerings that will make others smile, but I honestly enjoy the food at more ‘normal’ and humble occasions better. On Thanksgiving itself I am more focused on hosting or greeting and connecting with people I haven’t seen in a while than the food. And even though I tend to overeat, I’m never as satisfied by the actual eating as I am on a night when I sit down to a quieter meal.

I suggest making things that make you happy, but don’t over stress the food. It will be good. It does not need to reinvent the wheel. You might even make fewer dishes, but make them really flavorful and plentiful. Or make certain things you excel at but order others from a local and/or organic purveyor. I know, the horrors! But really, Whole Foods makes a great vegetarian pate. Just sayin’.

2. Make Things You Know

This one is similar to the above, but a little more focused. Make things you already know how to make. Got a recipe you’ve made so many times you don’t need to look at it? That’s the one you want right now. It may be old hat in your mind, but your guests won’t have eaten it as often. Or, if it’s your real blockbuster, maybe they really expect it and would be sad if you didn’t make it. Curried pumpkin puffs with a cashew crème filling and scallion chive dipping sauce  might sound interesting, but you don’t need to go to those lengths to give thanks and share a meal joyfully with those you love. Your same old wonderful roasted roots will really hit the spot. And they make great home fries with eggs the next morning.

3. Don’t forget to Breathe

Your body is supposed to do this on its own, but I suspect many of you find yourself sort of holding your breath until you accomplish everything, or you just breathe really shallowly in an effort to ‘hold it all together’. Don’t. Just let your belly out and take some nice life-giving breaths. You’ll find more space in your mind, body and day that way, and you might even stop before you bit Great Aunt Bertha’s head off for her careless comments.

4. Nourish Yourself Well, All Week

So many people seem to feel the need to starve themselves before or after the ‘big day’ in preparation for the indulgence. I’ve seen a lot of pre-Thanksgiving juice cleanse offers this month! But this is a plan designed to fail. If you go to the holiday feast undernourished and less than satisfied you’ll likely swing the pendulum in the other direction PDQ. Instead, try eating reasonable quantities of healthy, whole foods in preparation. Then indulge in whatever calls to you on T-Day without necessarily drowning yourself in the mashed potato bowl.

4. Nourish Yourself the Day After

Yep. You did it. You ate Great Aunt Bertha’s pecan pie, the whole thing, when no one was looking, after two helpings of main courses and appetizers and whatever else. You still don’t want to punish yourself the next day. Why? The endless cycle of starving and stuffing and starving again does a number on your psyche and your metabolism, and keeps you off balance for a lot longer. Instead, nourish yourself, but be gentle on your digestion. Start the day with a warm cup of water with a generous squeeze of lemon. Follow that with an easy to digest smoothie or blended soup. Go easy, but get back to your status quo as quickly as you can.

5. Exercise

Yes, you heard me. Get on the bike, the sidewalk, the yoga mat or whatever it else you do to sweat. Do it all week, and especially this Friday. It might not feel like you want to. You might not have the best yoga practice/spinning session/run of all time. But it will help clear your system, get your energy back on an even keel and help reaffirm your daily practices and routine.

6. Instagram your food!

Ha. This one is a little silly but I mean it. If you stop to turn your plate into art, you might reconsider wolfing it down without tasting it. Not only that, but I want to see your amazing creations and abundance!

Seriously friends, let’s make this Thanksgiving a time of really enjoying, of slowing down, noticing our blessings, enjoying our families and giving thanks. When you find yourself sliding away from this attitude a little, just step away and breathe for a minute to realign yourself with what’s important. That’s what I plan to do!

Again, share your gratitude with me this week on FB and I’ll be doing the same. And reach out for some help with your healthy living goals while you’re at it.

I’m here at laura@alifedelectable.com and I look forward to connecting!