The title of this article sounds like a total scam right? How can you possibly eat whatever you want on Thanksgiving and not get fat? Well, the fact of the matter is that you can’t get fat in one day. You can’t even get fat in a week.
One meal that you eat once a year is not the problem when it comes to weight gain; it’s the other 364 days of the year. The key to having your stuffing and eating it too is to enjoy Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving.
That makes intuitive sense, and you’ve probably even promised yourself that you’d do this for yourself in years past. The hardest part for everyone is Friday — getting yourself back on track the day after because you’ve got all this food around (that is delicious), and your are now craving it (because it is literally addictive). Here are three very simple steps to making sure that actually gets done:
1. Only take home the protein: If it’s in your house it’s going to end up in your mouth. So, only take home the turkey and the odd veggie that is not covered in marshmallows, brown sugar or fried onions. (Turkey without the gravy, ham without the glaze and the like.)
If you are the guest, keeping the macaroni and cheese (or whatever else you love) from following you home is pretty easy. Make it taste really good, and only make a medium amount (not an institutional batch). The problem will solve itself.
If the host tries to push pie on you to take home, just politely (but firmly) decline. No need to say, “Oh, I’m watching my figure,” because that will likely lead to some sort of guilt trip that will have you waking up to an all-pie breakfast.
If you’re the host, just send everyone home with whatever they brought. This is easier if they bring it in the serving dish because you don’t need any Tupperware after dinner, just some plastic wrap.
Again, if the guest says, “Oh, you should keep some,” just politely (but firmly) decline.
2. Do it while you’re stuffed: right after dinner when you are stuffed is when it is the easiest to ensure that your home is safe in terms of food. That means unloading (or declining) the pies, and what not. When you’ve had four pieces of pie an hour ago, you can let the rest of it go. But, when you had four pieces of pie last night and you wake up with intense pie cravings the next morning, that pie owns your willpower.
Temptation grows, not shrinks with time. This is especially true with what is called “hyper-palatable” foods, like everything on the table on Thanksgiving. (“Hyper-palatable” means it’s excessively delicious – food that triggers you to just want to eat, and eat and eat. For me these include chocolate chip cookies. If I make a batch of them, I tell myself, “Oh, I’ll just have a few,” but I will just not stop until every single cookie crumb is gone. I’ll keep eating even though I feel sick. Guess what? I don’t make them, nor do I keep them in the house.)
Don’t make your life harder than it needs to be. Bite the bullet, and just get it done before bed. You can wake up the next morning and feel pretty good about yourself for being so smart, and for having the will to follow through.
3. Don’t use this article in a negative way: some people will read the “You can’t get fat in one day” line above, and expand that to mean, “Well, if you can’t get fat in a day, then what’s one more day? I’ll keep the pie, and maybe deep fry the macaroni and cheese, but it’s just one more day.”
The old cliche, “Today is yesterday’s tomorrow” is a profound truth. Putting off doing the right thing is how the right thing(s) never actually get done (and awful things happen by default). Shut your brain up. Don’t think about doing the right thing with yourself. Just do it and be done.
So, have a blast on Thursday. Have an awesome Thanksgiving. Make your favorite dish. Eat your favorite dishes. Eat a lot of it. Just pull the trigger on your best intentions before your go to bed, so you wake up set up to succeed.
Josef Brandenburg is a Washington, D.C.-area certified fitness expert with 11 years of experience. In 2004, he started The Body You Want personal training fitness program, which specializes in weight loss and body transformations for busy people.