How a Nutritionist Navigates Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and right now that thought either has you really excited (maybe a little hungry?) or really anxious. Holidays tend to be very food-centered (none more so than Thanksgiving) which alone can be anxiety-provoking for many. Pair that with too much alcohol, traveling, and some good ol’ family drama (political talk, anyone?), and you’ve got yourself one very stressful day. 

If this is sounding way too familiar, rest assured that the majority of us are right there with you. According to a poll taken by the American Psychological Association, 69% of Americans report feeling increasingly stressed during the holidays. And as many of you can probably attest to (myself included), emotional stress can spiral into overindulgence which usually leaves us feeling even worse. So today, I’m sharing my top tips for navigating Thanksgiving healthfully, mindfully, and with balance. As a holistic nutritionist and yoga teacher, these are my personal practices that keep me feeling like my best, most radiant self during the crazy holiday days. 

Prepare yourself. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, make sure to nourish and love on yourself a little extra. Take a detoxifying salt bath, load up on the leafy greens, and drink tons of water. The liver can take a heavy hit from all the indulgence, so I drink lots of fresh lemon water, chlorophyll water, and spirulina smoothies to prepare my system. 

Get your sweat on. The morning of, I make sure to get some sort of workout in. This is a super important ritual that I try to stay true to on holidays or any indulgent occasion. It cleanses your system, kicks the metabolism into gear, and is an amazing stress-reliever. I love holidays and I love my family, but let’s be real, these occasions can be stressful. I find that by beginning my day with some self-care in the form of a good sweat, I’m better equipped to deal with whatever wine-fueled political debates get later thrown my way. The next morning, same thing. Morning after workouts are never the prettiest, but your body will thank you for it. Yoga is particularly potent, as it targets the digestive organs for a deeper detox. If you’re in the South Florida area, click here to find my current teaching schedule.

Eat your veggies (like, a lot of them). Unfortunately, creamy mashed potatoes and marshmallow-crusted sweet potatoes don’t count. I’m talking leafy green salads, roasted squash, lightly steamed green beans and the like. The live enzymes in vegetables help our bodies better digest the mass amounts of food we’ll be ingesting, as well as provide a fresh dose of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to our systems. I aim to eat a large portion of veggies/salad first to help myself fill up a bit on the good stuff, so I’m not tempted to overeat the more indulgent parts of the meal. If you’re not hosting Thanksgiving and are unsure of what side options will be available, bring a wholesome, veggie-centered dish along with you.

Keep it real. This is my nutrition (and life) mantra. The real thing is always better than the processed, chemical-laden, factory-made version. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, chances are your body won’t either. And when our bodies are unable to recognize something, it’s treated as a toxic foreign substance, creating inflammation, weight gain, digestive upset, and even autoimmune disorders. Steer clear of boxed or pre-packaged stuffing, potatoes, gravy, desserts, and cranberry sauce. Get back to basics and use real, whole food ingredients to create your meal. Mashed potatoes with organic butter or ghee, not margarine. Apple pie with sugar and butter, not corn syrup and shortening. *This is the one and only time you’ll hear me recommend you eat sugar, so enjoy.*

Stay mindful of your alcohol intake. This is a big one for me. Personally, I know that after that second or third glass of wine, my judgement is skewed and I start making questionable decisions. Before I know it, I’m like 4 slices of pie deep and sneaking back into the kitchen for leftover mashed potatoes. It’s not pretty. We all have our own limits and guidelines that we try to abide by, so I encourage you to stay mindful of them, especially if you’re hoping to make this a healthier, more nourishing Thanksgiving. Hangovers are also the absolute worst, so I always try my best to avoid them in any way I can. However, if you find yourself nursing one Friday morning, cozy up with a tall glass of coconut water and my hangover guide.

Put it in perspective. Don’t succumb to the drama. It’s one day and meal. Albeit, a very large meal, but even so. I firmly believe in the 80/20 rule, and it’s a mindset I encourage my clients to adopt as well. If you’re making healthful, nourishing, and body-loving choices the vast majority of the time, indulging during these special, celebratory moments is a healthy way to ensure your life feels balanced and fun. Drop the guilt and just eat the damn mashed potatoes, girl. 

Cultivate gratefulness (even when sh*t hits the fan). Real talk, don’t rush through your day without cultivating some of the good stuff that this season is all about. No matter what kind of day you have planned, make some time to express gratitude for all the goodness in your life. Living from a place of thankfulness also allows us to keep our cool and keep perspective when things get a little crazy. I have found that without fail, when we are deeply grateful for what we have in our lives, we attract even more things for which to feel grateful. I believe this is a truly magical time of year, so I encourage you to tap into and connect with what gratitude means to you this time around.