Alternative title: “The plan that revolts against everything you’ve heard about healthy holiday eating.”

**All of the pictures in this post are from LAST Thanksgiving Day – Our family hike, one that we take every year – tomorrow will be no different.  The pictures have nothing to do with the message here, except maybe to live in the present.**

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“Fill up your plate with half vegetables, a quarter lean protein and a quarter of the good stuff.”

“Make sure you snack on healthy foods during the day so you don’t overeat during the main event.”

“Stand more than an arm’s length away from munchies, like a bowl of nuts or chips, while you chat so you’re not tempted to raise your hand to your mouth every few seconds.”

“Wear the tightest clothes you have.  You’ll notice you’re overeating and be able to stop yourself.”

“Burn off all the calories you’ll eat during dinner by exercising like crazy early in the week/day.”

“Know your calories!!!  Choose pumpkin pie over pecan.  Even better, skip dessert altogether.  Dressing is THE DEVIL!  Mashed potatoes- a demonic indulgence.  Choose low glycemic foods over high glycemic foods.”

“Choose a BLUE-colored plate or better yet, bring your own blue plate to dinner.  The plate that helps you to eat the least amount is one that is blue, that color has the least appealing blend with food.”

“Bring your own healthy salad so that you’ll have something to eat.  These people don’t understand you and this healthy living path you’ve chosen.”

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You’ve heard these before.  I know you have because they’re everywhere you look – magazines, Dr. Oz, Oprah, even healthy living blogs.  Tips on staying healthy during holiday meals.

We thrive off these “RULES”.  We NEED them or we’ll go rampant like rabid raccoons all over that Thanksgiving/Christmas meal, standing over the table, elbows akimbo, scarfing down carbs and spoonfuls of gravy.  In fact, who needs a spoon!?!?  We raccoons will just drink it straight from the gravy boat.

Oh the sheer horror of losing control!!  It’s more than most can bear! And that’s why we form PLANS.  A strategy to reign us in.  Because heaven forbid we actually indulge once and then carry on with our healthy living journey. 

To hell with that.

I’ve lived 30 years with a plan and honestly, I’m so tired.  Maybe it’s just that I now have my APPETITE back, but it seems illogical to me to set special rules for eating.  I’m hungry.  And the food at holiday meals is some of the best of the year.  Why wouldn’t you want to partake in it?!?

Because most of us don’t trust ourselves.  Or our bodies.

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From 1998-2004 or so, I would “fake eat” at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’d follow all of those rules I listed above and make up some of my own.  Pushing food around on my plate to make it seem like I ate.  Spitting food out into napkins, hoping no one would notice.  And if I’m being perfectly honest, a couple of those dark years, I’m sure I went upstairs and purged that meal.  The meal my mama worked so hard to cook.

?!!!?!?!?

Dude.  What the heck!

It’s unacceptable behavior.  And it directly opposes the very thought of Thanksgiving.  We’re supposed to be THANKFUL for this food that we’ve been blessed with.  Thankful for the hands that prepared the meal.  Thankful that we can break bread together.

When food rules and game plans are introduced, a little bit of that thankfulness is pushed to the back and a feeling of control and what I would describe as obsession takes first place.

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My Holiday Eating Strategy:

I don’t have one.

Well I guess I kinda do.  I’m going to fill up my plate with a little bit of every thing that looks good to me.  I’m going to eat my food and talk to my family and enjoy this time that I’m blessed with.  And if I want seconds, I’ll go back for them.  Not partaking in my sissy’s homemade pumpkin pie would be a tragedy.  After the meal is over, I’ll continue on with my healthy life.

No starvation.  No binge eating.  Just normal eating of some pretty amazing food.

Yep.  I like this plan.  It’s one I want my children to mimic in the future.

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Will you join me??

QUESTION:  I know I missed some of those “food rules.”  What are some of the other ones?  What’s your favorite dish at Thanksgiving dinner?

splendid…lindsay

  1. Pingback: Trust Your Body |
  2. Kristen@ Good 'n Good for Ya says:

    I love the “No Rules”! My only rule (which I stole from somewhere- OA maybe?) is “They’re HoliDAYS not HoliWEEKS or HoliMONTHS”. I eat all the delicious holiday foods I want- on the days themselves. As for those other rules and tips? They work for random holiday related occasions when I’ll be surrounded by treats, like work parties.

  3. Bek @ Crave says:

    This is my first visit to your blog and I already love you! I love the message you’re sending- it’s so very similar to my own. Thank you for writing this- I’m pinning it so I can look back on it :)

  4. coco says:

    love thus post, it’s so true that we tend to forget the meaning of this holiday, to be thankful to everything we have including those amazing meals and treats!!! :)

  5. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf says:

    So spot on. No plan for me either. Frankly, I don’t abide by the whole holidays as gorge fests. I treat them as I would any other day – try to exercise and eat in moderation. The only time that I get in trouble is when I’m home at my mom’s. She’s such a good cook and I don’t make Chinese food often for myself so I eat all hers up!

  6. Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut says:

    You know your body and I’m glad you’ve chosen to let yourself eat. That’s awesome! The “rules” can definitely hurt some people and like you said, if you add your own “rules” on top of all the other rules…you won’t be eating at all!

    Then there are those that need the rules. I am a dietetics major I hear about the obesity rate in America all the time…it’s no bueno. Some of those people need to check out that list of “rules” or tricks to having a more balanced holiday plan.

    I am a firm believer in moderation, which you probably know, so I won’t be joining you friend. I will, however, sample a little of everything I want and you can bet your booty I will be taking home plenty of leftovers..including grandma’s famous sugar cookies! Yumm!

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving friend and YAY for having your appetite back!! :)

  7. Laura says:

    When I first read your post, I thought “THIS is the holiday plan that goes against all other plans? This sounds like crap to me.” But then I realized you were just prefacing the REAL plan……. LOVE ITTTT!

  8. Meghan @ After the Ivy League says:

    Will I join you? I’ll be at the front of the line!! Reading through all those “rules” floating around everywhere honestly made me cringe. And feel sorry for people trying to obey those rules. LIGHTEN UP. It’s Thanksgiving for crying out load. It’s about spending time with loved ones, being thankful for all of your blessings, talking about future plans for Christmas. Oh and, sitting down for dinner. If dinner with loved ones stresses you out or makes you anxious about your “healthy living”… yea. That’s not healthy.

  9. Adrienne @ Happy Ramblings says:

    Thanks for posting this! I have no plan tomorrow either except to cook and indulge in the delicious food I am making for my family! I have seen this thing on facebook a couple of times today about how many burpees you need to do, or miles you need to run after a slice of turkey, or mashed potatoes, or pie…it seems a little obsessive. I do plan on taking a long run in the morning, not to offset calories or feel less guilty later, but because it’s my favorite way to start any day!

  10. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast says:

    I like your approach! Mine will be similar… I’ll contribute a healthier dish, but for the most part, there will be lots of unhealthy things on my mom’s table, and enjoying them in moderation is fun! Enjoy the special day with family. :)

  11. Ericka @ The Sweet Life says:

    No plan for me but I do have to watch it. I let myself eat whatever but it sometimes gets me into binge mode without realizing it. Sometimes I eat until I’m sick and then feel horrible. THAT is my only plan — to avoid that feeling. The truth is sometimes Thanksgiving is not my favorite day for food simply because all of the buzz about the food. It gets to my head. Anyway, kinda gives me an idea for a post…haha

  12. Heather says:

    Your plan this year is how my “plans” have looked every year! Eat whatever I want, be thankful for the food & hands that prepared it & go back for thirds! :) Unfortunately I’ve been diagnosed with some funky health conditions this year, and since I’m treating them through diet, my plan is a little different this year: no gluten, no animal proteins, no acidic foods, low sugar. HOWEVER, I am STILL thankful for the food & the hands that prepared it & I plan on going back for third helpings of all the yummies that won’t hurt me :) And with a feast as big as Thanksgiving, there’s sure to be plenty for me!

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Lindsay!!

  13. Kelly says:

    I agree! I love Thanksgiving because I love the food. My favorite thing ever is Keith’s sister’s rolls. She makes individual Challah rolls and they are as big as my fist and delightful! I love to split it open and put the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce inside and eat a sandwich. I know it may sound odd but it is amazing. The way I look at it…I only get this meal once. 1 day out of 365. I am going to make the most of it. And that doesn’t mean stuffing my face into an uncomfortable state but enjoying myself. Will I eat more than I normally do? Probably. Will my calories be carb heavy? Yes. Is it okay? Absolutely. No one (not one person in the history of the world) became unhealthy because of 1 day. No one.

  14. Calee says:

    You said it girl. You’re hungry and have your appetite back, so eat the heck out of Thanksgiving.

    My plan is: eat as much of whatever I want that doesn’t have gluten in it. Including the turkey (even though I’m not eating meat — don’t care. i love Thanksgiving turkey).

  15. Rhonda @ Kids Running Wild says:

    I follow many of those rules during the holiday season. However, on Thanksgiving Day there are no rules. I eat what I want… the only plan is to stop when I’m full so that I don’t feel gross. I don’t want to regret any of that wonderful meal.

    There was one Thanksgiving (I was 9) when my mom was hospitalized. We went to my aunt’s house and my uncle forced me to eat green beans. I hate green beans. Never did like them. He insisted that I eat every single thing on my plate (even though he was the one who had decided what foods were there and how much). I can remember sitting at the table all alone while everyone else was in the living room because I was not allowed to get up and I didn’t want the green beans. I tell you all that only to tell you this- my kids are also allowed to go to Thanksgiving Dinner and eat WHATEVER THEY WANT. It’s their holiday too!

    Have a wonderful Turkey Day!

  16. Julie says:

    Coming out if lurking status to say that there should be NO rules. It is just one day. God created everyday for us to rejoice in. Sometimes I think the focus on having “rules” makes people focus on it more than they would if we just said,”it’s one day & one day of wonderful, indulgent eating won’t hurt my food/fitness journey.” I will have some of everything tomorrow & enjoy the company I am in even more than the food.

  17. Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life says:

    I 110% agree with you and you summed up my Thanksgiving Day ‘meal plan’ too… And that plan is that there isn’t one! Thanksgiving is not a day to count calories or feel guilty about eating pie, it’s about enjoying the bites we take and living present in the moment with the ones we love. Thank you for this post! The blog world needed honesty and encouragement like this today :)

  18. Danica @ It's Progression says:

    I am SO sick of hearing/reading all of those food rules for the holidays!! It’s stressful just reading about them and I’m pretty sure everyone that tries to stick to them is so worried about what is or isn’t on their plate that they miss out on the fellowship around them…That’s exactly what happened to me last year at least! I was so concerned about putting together a ‘winning’ holiday meal plate that I know I wasn’t pay attention to my wonderful family who surrounded me, talking, laughing, and enjoying the day. I’m determined to just enjoy this year’s get-togethers, whatever that means in the food department, so be it.
    Thank you for posting this!

  19. Kirsten says:

    It makes me so sad that people don’t realize ONE SINGLE DAY of indulging won’t kill their healthy lifestyle. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be one day, just one MEAL. One meal will not make you gain 10 pounds and lose all of your muscle tone. One meal CAN’T do that. Thanksgiving food is my favorite and I plan to eat a healthy, delicious breakfast tomorrow and then enjoy whatever sounds/looks/smells good at our thanksgiving! And I can’t wait! I’m also making tomorrow a rest day so I can just relax with my family and that won’t make me get huge either!

  20. Michelle @ Eat Move Balance says:

    I’m so with you! I think I’m getting to the age where you realize these family gatherings with food that’s been made by your mom, grandma, aunt, whoever, won’t be around forever. It’s one day. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Savor it. Because there is a connection between the gathering of family and friends and the food that’s at the Thanksgiving table. And it’s our job to maintain the fact that it’s a GOOD connection. Happy Thanksgiving!

  21. Becky Przy says:

    You said this wonderfully Lindsay!

    Of course there is the drink a ton of water before you go so your stomach is full. Chew on gum so you don’t snack before the meal.

  22. travisvwright says:

    I’d never actually heard any of these rules. I assume one can only learn them at female camp. But one excellent strategy I do know that actually works:

    Eat Captain Crunch for breakfast. Unless you wait a very long time for it to get soggy there is no way to eat Captain Crunch with out tearing up the roof of your mouth. (Similarly you could sub in at least a half of a Pineapple for breakfast. Both will give you that horrible pain that makes it impossible to enjoy the actual meal.)

    • Camila says:

      Excellent suggestions. The really do work better than burning your mouth on coffee. There is somehow special about a captain crunch injury. I’d change Lindsay’s plan for tomorrow to get a lot of all the best things and skip the things you’ve never tasted so you save room to stuff your stomach with the best.

  23. Jillian @ Sprinkle Massacre says:

    Hands down the best Thanksgiving strategy post I’ve read. Screw “How to not indulge on Thanksgiving” and yay for BE THANKSFUL AND ENJOY IT! I’m with you on Thanksgiving – I’ll tweet you when I’m stuffed on the couch taking a turkey nap! lol

  24. Danielle says:

    Love this!!!!! No need to plan just enjoy and most importantly enjoy the time with your loved ones! I’ve never heard of eating off of a blue plate! That’s a new one. I think my family would deem me crazy if I brought my own blue plate to thanksgiving dinner :)

  25. Katie @ Talk Less, Say More says:

    I think it’s so important this time of year to remind ourselves that it’s STILL all things in moderation – which includes allowing yourself to indulge a bit! I’m so much more likely to go overboard if I tell myself “no” than if I remind myself that I AM allowed to have a piece of pie and enjoy all of the delicious things my family worked hard to make. It’s about not eating like this EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, especially if you’re staying sedentary. It’s about moderation on all accounts.

    off my soap box. ;)

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