How can you survive All You Can Eat Day (otherwise known as Thanksgiving), especially if you’re someone who has recommitted to a healthier lifestyle? Read on for ways to thrive this Turkey Day, and every holiday.

Trying to maintain weight loss over the holidays is no easy feat, and the holidays are stressful enough without worrying about every bite you take. I was so glad to find these simple, realistic tips to help avoid feeling like a stuffed turkey myself!

If you’re someone who is struggling with your weight and tends to overeat during the holidays, then Thanksgiving might be a nightmare for you. As a former fat girl and current health coach, I am going to share with you some 3 quick tips that have helped me and my clients not just survive, but also thrive during the holidays.

First of all, no one really cares about the gobbler on Turkey Day. What we really care about is the carbs!

  • We have mashed potatoes with gravy.
  • We have stuffing.
  • We have sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie.
  • We have green bean casserole.
  • We have cranberry sauce, which is straight up sugar that has been jellied into some nasty consistency.

All of these side dish delights are carbs. Other than the turkey, we have very little protein to speak of at our Thanksgiving feast.

Let’s be real- sure you can replace your mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower, but that doesn’t mean you will like it. Much less eat it.

I like to help folks through the holidays in a way that feels good to them, and so they can still enjoy their food.

Let’s get one thing straight; carbs are not evil. That’s right, carbs are not evil. Do you know that all vegetables and fruits are also carbs? They are complex carbs, so they’re not the same as simple carbs like sugar. The difference lies in fiber, which prevents you both from overeating and needing to rely upon Metamucil to be “regular”. Anything that tends to have more fiber, tends to be a better carb source for you.

We have plenty of carbs out there that are good for you, which my veggie-loving friends can attest to.

  • We have mushrooms.
  • We have celery.
  • We have carrots.
  • We have sweet potatoes.
  • We have Brussels sprouts.

Those are good carbs, because they have higher fiber content. Some of them have more water content, that means you get full on much less. No need to go gnosh on meat all day; keep those good carbs!

That being said, I fully acknowledge that the whole month between Thanksgiving and Christmas tends to be filled with less desirable carbs, such as candy, pies, and cookies.

How do you prioritize when you get to that Thanksgiving Day feast? This used to be a big struggle for me as a kid, when I would load up on all the carbs with an obligatory slice of turkey, and have to open the button on my pants to breathe by 6 o’clock.

Thanksgiving is no longer a challenge for me, because I focus on a balanced plate.

Here are my top tips for how you can enjoy Turkey Day without feeling like a stuffed turkey yourself.T

Stop Saving your Calories! First of all, when you approach Thanksgiving Feast, chances are good that you skipped breakfast, because you are gleefully anticipating the feast to come.

That’s mistake number one. Never, ever, ever, ever skip breakfast (ever). The reason for that is, your body metabolism slows down when you deny it food, and it holds on to the calories when you do eat food.

Your body is struggling with this internal dialogue; “Am I in starvation mode, or what is she doing to me? How come she’s not giving me food?”

Your body processes the carbs very differently on an empty stomach. Plus, there is no evidence of a benefit to fasting less than 24 hours, and it is highly likely your carb-loading during Turkey Day will replace any water or stored carbs you “released” by skipping breakfast.

Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast (you can also download my Breakfast Blueprint to help). It’s a good way to eat a healthy, balanced, breakfast for any dietary needs that you have. This is a blueprint that gives you the basic building blocks of how to make a healthy, balanced breakfast.

If your feast tends to be very late in the evening, like 7:00 pm, then take advantage of opportunities to snack on protein or fat-based snacks to cut your cravings.

Social Sipping.  Picture this scene. You arrive to your host’s house early, sit down and chat with other guests, watch the football game, send the kids out to play, and wait for the deliciousness about to come. What is probably in your hand?

A glass of kool-aid. Not that kind. The adult kind.

Our society has a HUGE problem with social sipping. If you’re the host, you probably take pains to keep topping off your guests’ glass as well. After all, you are a FAB host.

Mistake number two is drinking copious amounts of alcohol before you even sit down to eat. You probably think I never drink, since I’m a health coach. I like to drink a sweet white or occasionally a full-bodied red wine, and I also have pre-set guidelines on how much of it I drink.

I will say, the idea that “mom needs a glass of wine” simply to survive her crazy day is missing something. Our basic need to fill our cup with pleasures beyond food and drink.

I also have helped some coaching clients tackle their alcohol habit. Here are some tips that were very effective for them.

  • An easy way to prevent yourself from over-imbibing in those alcoholic drinks with an overeager host is to put the cup down away from you or keep a glass of water instead.
  • If you are trying to wean off alcohol drink a full glass of water in between drinks. That way, you’re saving yourself some calories, and maybe you’re saving yourself some embarrassment.

Eat the Pie First. Last, when all that food comes on the table, what do we do? We have a little bit of everything. It’s an all you can eat, it’s family style, and it’s staring at you, and it’s saying, “Eat me.” The thing is, you don’t have to eat everything, especially, if you’re the host, because you’re going to have those leftovers in your fridge anyway, and you’re going to have unlimited access to them later on.

The other thing is, why do you need to eat it all? Really, why do you need to eat it all? There are studies out there that say that you, actually, have decreased pleasure after the third bite of anything.

That could be your worst vegetable, that could be your favorite pie. After the third bite, it’s no longer giving us incremental pleasure.

Think about that a little bit. Do you really need to put a little bit of everything on your plate, or would you rather use that plate space to eat your favorite of all time?

The one you only get once a year, the one that’s a very special family recipe passed down year to year. Would you rather waste your time and energy on a food you don’t really care about, or would you rather have a second helping of your absolute favorite dish that only comes out once a year? I know what I would choose.

A client of mine was nervous about overindulging at a fancy, luxurious, all you can eat buffet in Las Vegas.

After discovering that her absolute favorite item on this buffet line was homemade crepes with Nutella and bananas, I told her to enjoy the H out of them FIRST. Then eat the fruits, veggies and protein that supported her health goals.

You know what happened? She lost weight, without feeling deprived.

When folks out there are telling you, “Eat the pie anyway!” that’s what they’re talking about. I say don’t just eat the pie, eat the pie FIRST. As long as it’s Grandma’s secret pumpkin pie recipe that only your mother knows. Not Baker’s Square pie.

Then you can  fill up with your fruits, your vegetables, your salads, and your protein-packed turkey.

Those are my ways to enjoy and thrive on All You Can Eat Day. Again, carbs are not bad for you. Stop saving your calories, beware of social sipping and eat the pie first. Finally, make sure you celebrate the fact that you’re spending the holiday with people you love, people who care about you, and people who are feeding you good food, because that is a blessing.

Join Jenn’s free Facebook group Weight No More for extra holiday accountability!