Go SLOW: The secret to a less-stress healthy holiday feast
I’ve got a Thanksgiving quiz for you.
When you think of the holiday do you think of:
- A warm and relaxed time gathering with friends and family
- All the stress that’s involved with planning and preparing food
- Craving caffeine, sweets, and alcohol to make it through the day
- Eating too much and feeling uncomfortable and bloated afterward
While choice #1 is the ideal, it’s often not the reality for many of my clients at Thanksgiving time.
Personally, I’ve experienced each of the above!
Let’s face it, a Thanksgiving meal can often equal a lot of stress – one of the worst toxins your body can experience. But the holidays don’t have to be stress-filled.
A secret solution to a less-stress Thanksgiving is to go SLOW.
Let’s break it down by each letter in the word “slow”.
S: Start with a plan
Planning and prepping is how my mom taught me to handle Thanksgiving dinners without the stress of chaos in the kitchen.
When we’re hosting the meal, my family begins decorating and composing the timeline a week or two in advance. The Monday before Thanksgiving, my kids and I start roasting and straining pumpkins to make Pumpkin Pie from Scratch.
Tasks like chopping onions or Brussel Sprouts can be done a day or two in advance.
Take a look at your menu and identify dishes that can be made ahead of time and frozen.
As you plan your meal to include healthy recipes, I’ve got a roundup of all my favorites here. A Healthier Thanksgiving From Food Foundation
Finally, as you’re planning your feast, don’t hesitate to delegate!
If you have a task that you particularly don’t relish — like carving the turkey [How to Carve a Turkey Like a Pro (Step-By-Step) - Downshiftology] or making the gravy [Gluten Free Biscuits and Gravy)] — let an expert know ahead of time that they’ve been “voluntold.” 😘
L: Learn to let go
When the big celebration day arrives, find some healthy ways to let go of the stress that’s accumulated and any that’s yet to come.
Here are some ideas:
- Close your eyes, take 5 deep breaths, and roll your shoulders back.
- Take a walk outdoors and breathe in the fresh air.
- Read Making Time To Relax for more ideas.
Take care of yourself by eating a high protein breakfast which will keep your metabolism revving. Drink water for most of the day to make sure you’re well hydrated and avoid any unnecessary sugar or simple carbs.
When it’s time to sit down for the main course, remember that digestion begins in the brain. Digestion can only occur if the body is in a parasympathetic state, which means not reacting to any stress. In order to produce the appropriate digestive enzymes, we must relax, breathe and enjoy our food. All digestion stops in a sympathetic, aka "fight or flight" state.
All this means is that your stomach knows about the stress in your mind. So, try to let it go!
If you’re the cook, you don’t need to please everyone. Make and eat the food you love. If your guests hate everything, maybe someone else will volunteer for the following year! 🤷♀️
O: Offer Gratitude
Gratitude is free, a relatively simple practice, and beneficial for people of all ages and life-stages.
Gratitude helps protect against stress and depression. It’s also shown that practicing gratitude may begin to improve the quality of your relationships.
Our family has developed a habit of practicing gratitude when we sit down for dinner. We consider our meals and where they came from. We express gratitude for the store we bought it from, the truck drivers who transported the food, the farmers who grew it, etc. It helps us all appreciate our meals more and eat intentionally.
Giving thanks isn’t reserved for Thanksgiving Day! Check out my blog on Practicing Gratitude as a consistent practice.
W: Welcome leftovers!
When the hard work is done, you get to enjoy the fruits of the labor by enjoying leftovers for days to come.
If you cooked the holiday meal you shouldn’t have to cook for the rest of the weekend. Many of the foods taste better once they have had a chance to allow the flavors to blend anyway.
Your family may not crave turkey for a few days, so throw the carcass in the freezer and postpone making a deliciously, nutritious bone broth for a time when you're well rested and recovered. Check out this Bone Broth video that takes you through the simple steps.
If you’re a guest on Thanksgiving and don’t have any leftovers at home, enjoy a cleaner kitchen and perhaps the space to try something new. Have you tried my Paleo Pumpkin Chili recipe? Pumpkins often go on sale right after Thanksgiving Day.
Regardless of how you answered the quiz at the beginning, remember that a solution to a less-stress Thanksgiving is to go SLOW.
To recap, the SLOW acronym:
S: Start with a plan
L: Learn to let go
O: Offer gratitude
W: Welcome leftovers
I hope that this holiday season you can go slow and celebrate every bite. Relax and savor your food, enjoy friends and family, and give thanks for everything on your plate and in your life.