July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Eat the Pie and Other Thanksgiving Tips

Dear Coach Gila,

Last year on Thanksgiving I went to my parents’ house. I made a very calculated decision ahead of time that I was not going to partake in any of the stuffing, potatoes or starchier dishes. I felt very strong going into the day. I ate a few slices of turkey breast, and Brussels sprouts that I had brought. I also ate salad that my mother had prepared but I brought the dressing so I knew exactly what was in it.

Throughout the day, I said “no, thank you” to apple pie, pumpkin pie and the assorted cookies and other desserts that my siblings contributed to the meal. To be honest, at the time I didn’t even really want any of those desserts. That was my plan and it worked. I went home that day and I felt great that I did not “cheat” on my diet.

You may be wondering why am I am writing to you. Within a few days, I was in serious emotional and psychological turmoil. Thanksgiving is only once a year. The opportunity for me to eat my mother’s cooking is seldom at best. I don’t know how much longer my mother will be hosting large family meals. I used to experience these strong emotions and feelings of comfort tied to eating my childhood favorites. I was transported to a time when I felt safe in my family’s embrace as opposed to the constant stress of being an adult.

So, I second-guess myself. Should I have just given in and eaten whatever I wanted? Would it have been so bad to have had a slice of pumpkin pie? In retrospect, I feel like there would have been an emotional recharging which would have benefited me more than the feeling of strength I had by saying “no, thank you” all day. In a sense, my deprivation backfired, not on the scale but psychologically.

I know Thanksgiving is only once a year but I am faced with these types of situations during the holidays as well. The fact that Thanksgiving is approaching only highlights my personal struggle with these issues all year round. I’m trying to be healthy but it’s just so hard. What are your thoughts? Is eating the pumpkin pie considered a cheat? Is it considered going off plan? Or is it considered saving my sanity?


My diet or my mind

Dear My diet or my mind,

I’d like to begin by thanking you for reaching out to me. For expressing your thoughts and questions so poignantly, and for bringing to light a concern that I am sure many others have as well.

Yes, the taste and smell of certain foods can recall intense emotional memories. For me, it’s my mother’s fricassee and my father’s poppy hamantashen. I get it, I understand.

Let’s take a step back. Living a healthy lifestyle is not about deprivation and exercising super-human willpower whenever we are faced with making choices regarding food. Living a healthy lifestyle involves changing your relationship with food so you no longer feel tortured by eating a slice of pie. It’s so much more than that.

Healthy living is living life to its fullest. It’s finding balance in our lives and participating in activities you enjoy. It’s about making time for those that matter to you. Healthy living is feeling connected to others. It’s about giving back to your community. It’s about having an attitude of gratitude.

Healthy living is ending habits that no longer work for you and working on practicing healthier habits that support your health goals. I could continue as there are many definitions to healthy living. Healthy living is not about your ability to say no to a slice of pumpkin pie.

Eating healthfully on Thanksgiving does not have to mean foregoing your childhood favorites. It does not mean you are going “off plan.”

Here are my tips to guide you on Thanksgiving. These ideas can be applied to any holiday celebration as well.

In the morning, drink warm lemon water (for my coffee drinkers, have no fear—the coffee is enjoyed right after the lemon water). As you are sipping set your intention for the day. Tell yourself, “Today is going to be a great day.” Acknowledge your excitement in seeing your family members. It’s ok to look forward to your Mom’s pumpkin pie as well. There should be no shame in your thoughts or actions related to food.

Eat a nutrient-dense breakfast. Whether you are hosting or traveling, make the time to prepare and enjoy your breakfast.

Drink water throughout the day.

Breathe throughout the day and enjoy the break from your regular routine.

Make time for a brisk walk, invite a few family members to join you. You will feel invigorated and alive!

If your meal is scheduled for later in the day, don’t skip lunch. It’s so easy to graze instead of sitting to a meal, but don’t do it. Prepare a plate and enjoy it. If you will be traveling, bring along a full lunch as opposed to just snacks.

The Thanksgiving meal itself: Fill half your plate with rainbow vegetables, fresh, sautéed, roasted, steamed—it doesn’t matter, choose a variety of colors and textures. Next, choose your protein. Lastly, consider the carbohydrate options; stop and think. Do I want the stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn bread? Really think about it. This is the beauty of a healthy lifestyle and intuitive eating vs. a diet. You are in control of what you choose to put on your plate and eat. If the answer is yes, then choose a few tablespoons of the dish or dishes that you chose to eat. While you indulge, enjoy it. Don’t feel guilty, defeated or regretful.

Dessert: Here again, you are in control. If you think about it, it’s a very empowering feeling. You don’t need to eat dessert because it’s dessert time. You may be truly full and opt for a hot tea, which you can sip slowly while you enjoy the conversation. Or you may opt to have a slice of pumpkin pie. If you choose the pie, my advice is to be fully present and enjoy each bite.

The meal is now over. You feel grateful for the warmth and love of your family. You enjoyed every bite that you chose to eat. You have no feelings of shame or regret. At the next meal, you jump right into your normal eating routine, your healthy lifestyle. No need to get back on track, as choosing to enjoy a portion of your childhood favorites isn’t considered “going off track.” It’s called living your life.

On a personal note, I’d like to take the opportunity this Thanksgiving to thank all of you, my readers. Your feedback and support mean so much to me. I wish all of you continued success on your journey to health!

Coach Gila

By Gila C. Guzman, JD, CINHC

 Coach Gila C. Guzman JD, CINHC, is the director of Main Asset Health LLC. She guides busy families toward their health goals by providing realistic tools. She practices a whole foods approach, and believes in creating healthy habits for sustainable health. Coach Gila is sought out by those who want to change their relationship with food, end yo-yo dieting, lose weight, overcome emotional eating. Coach Gila offers personal one-to-one sessions, group sessions and cooking classes. Coach Gila can be reached at [email protected] and 917-647-1788.


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