It’s Thanksgiving, a day to be thankful for what you’ve got, to spend with family and friends. A day to stuff your mouth with food, to wear stretchy pants, to eat until you’re so sleepy you need an afternoon nap. “Mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce. Wooo!”
Thanksgiving fare is delicious, but the day doesn’t have to be an exercise in overindulgence or an excuse for gluttony. I love that the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin said as much in an NPR interview.
“Chitlins are off the menu. They were keeping my weight up. Chitlins have been canceled off of my list, and I know my fans and friends are screaming ‘Hallelujah!’ I want to be around for a long time, so let’s drop the chitlins,” she said to News and Notes host and former Afrobella of the Month Farai Chideya.
Good for you, Aretha! As a bella who is on her own weight loss journey, I know it’s rough on holidays, especially Thanksgiving. Even though you’ll probably be faced with temptation of the worst kind all day, you can do Thanksgiving light. And right. And still come out feeling satisfied. Here are my top five tips that I’m working on this year.
— Wake up, work out. Thanksgiving Day is generally a day of preparation, and there’s no better way to rev up your motor in the morning than with a brisk workout. I always used to think that working out in the morning would slow me down, but it actually does the opposite. A half hour on the elliptical trainer at a moderate pace, or a workout courtesy of my Comcast On Demand and Exercise TV generally revs me up and helps release endorphins to push me through my day. If you don’t have Comcast On Demand, or a Wii Fit, or your own exercise equipment, or a gym membership — no excuses. If you’re online reading this, you can do something fun, like a belly dance workout, courtesy of YouTube.
— Don’t starve yourself all day. Lots of people treat turkey day like a contest in competitive eating, and they don’t eat breakfast or much of anything until the main event. This isn’t Coney Island and you’re not Kobayashi. Sustain yourself earlier in the day with healthy food – have a good breakfast of oatmeal or something fiber-rich, then have a healthy light protein lunch. If you’re starving and your relatives won’t be arriving for a bit, maybe have apple slices with peanut butter to stave off the starvation. That way you won’t rely upon Aunt Janet’s sweet potato casserole to fill the void you’ve had inside you all day.
— Load up on raw and cooked veggie sides. A while back I saw a report on CNN Fit Nation, about a woman named Angela Stokes who has lost half of her body weight by eating raw foods. Now Angela eats only uncooked and unprocessed vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and she claims to be healthier than ever. I don’t ever plan to completely be a vegetarian or a raw foodist, but I admire their dedication and philosophy and I’ve been arduously trying to eat more salads and fresh vegetables. It makes sense to me that eating more veggies and fruits will lead to a healthier life. So my goal today is to skip the bread basket and the carb-heavy, rich side dishes and to enjoy healthier options. Starting my meal with a bowl of soup and a salad usually helps to prevent me from over indulging later on. Which brings me to the next point:
— Enjoy your favorites, but Watch your portions. By no means am I saying avoid your favorite things — hello, are you kidding? It’s Thanksgiving! When else do you get to feast on marshmallow-covered casserole, buttery mashed potatoes, and once a year mac and cheese? Today’s the day, and surely you’ve got your heart set on your favorite things. But my goal here is to avoid what we in Trinidad call “eye bigger than belly” syndrome. Don’t take the biggest helping you can stand, start small. Make sure you eat your favorite foods slowly and enjoy the flavors of the season.
— After the meal, get up, get out, do something! Don’t sit around in a tryptophan haze watching TV, try to have fun with your family. If you’re at a big celebration, there’s bound to be kids. A game that gets everyone animated is a good idea. If you don’t feel like playing Scattergories or Pictionary, maybe your family has a Wii, and you can all play Wii Sports. Or you can find other games to play that bring you together and allow you to bond while the relatives are still a-visiting. The point is, enjoy it while they’re around.
The point is, be thankful for the time with family and friends. And enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, bellas and fellas. I am thankful for each and every one of you who takes the time to read Afrobella, to leave me comments or write me e mails.
What are you doing for Thanksgiving? I’m driving down to Key West with my husband, continuing our new tradition of a romantic Thanksgiving getaway. So I’ll be back next week with yet another guide to the Florida Keys.
Love and light to all of you. And happy turkey day!!