The Thanksgiving holiday can be a mixed bag. It can be incredibly joyous -spending time with friends and family, eating delicious food, taking a bit of well-deserved vacation. Family, tons of food, trays of dessert, sitting around the table with relatives and alcohol readily available can also be somewhat more than a little stressful. Furthermore, there may be parties to plan, meals to cook and planes to catch.
If you happen to have the great, and in some ways, hectic, honor of being the holiday host, there are some thoughtful things you can do to lighten your load while ensuring that your celebration is warm, merry, and memorable. The only difference will be that you might be less overwhelmed, things will flow more smoothly, and you could even have the pleasure of feeling a guest at your own party.
Take a deep breath, we have put together a few tips and recipes to ensure you emerge from Thanksgiving none-the worse for wear:
Accept what is.
Uncle John will probably drink too much, as he always does. He may even dance on the table. As much as you wish this were not the case, not all family members would be your top choice for friends. This you cannot change, so stop arguing with reality. You can feel frustrated, angry, sad, and resentful and still there are some things that will not change. Where do you want to put your energy?
Relish in the good.
Allow the good parts to really sink in. What is delightful? There might be a family member or friend you have not seen in a long time a reconnecting felt good. The smells of childhood may evoke fond memories. Children’s laughter may make you smile and warm your heart. Allow these things, no matter how small, to light you up; focus on them and give the good parts lots of space.
Make sure you are breathing into your belly. It helps your body and mind stay calm. You can put your hand over your belly to make sure it is rising and falling. No one will notice. They are too busy with their own worries.
Pick something quirky and personal to be grateful for.
It is always a good idea to be thankful for family, a roof over your head, and food to eat, but what about the fact that your child finally passed his math test? Or that your dog got through a walk without rolling in goose droppings? That your favorite show just went to Netflix? Or that you managed to did not need to put any money in the ‘poor language’ jar for a week? You get the idea. Make it interesting; not only is it more fun, but it is way more powerful that way.
Ask yourself what would help.
Do you need to take a little breathing break in the powder room? Take the dog for a quick walk? These little grounding tools can really help with perspective. Give yourself the time and space for them if necessary.
If you are not determined to cook everything yourself and your guests offer, allow them to bring a dish. Simply be specific about what you need and, if there is a concern, ask for a dish or ingredient that naturally falls into your Paleo diet choices.
Depending on the type of party you are having and whom you are inviting, close friends and family certainly will not object to carrying their post-dinner plates into the kitchen. Often times laughter and shared stories happen as much, if not more, over cleanup than at the table.
Eat mindfully, as much as possible.
Accept that it is not going to be perfect. You might feel distracted by all the chaos. Do your best to chew and taste your food. Slow down as much as possible. It helps with digestion, and knowing when you are full. It also increases enjoyment.
Be gentle with yourself.
So, you ate too much pie, then cleaned out the coconut whip bowl with your finger? It happens. It can certainly be a challenging day. Sweet, starchy and sugar-filled foods help, albeit temporarily. Nothing will be gained by berating yourself. Research is quite clear that self-compassion is the only way to go if you are looking to change behavior. Try some self-talk that may sound more like: “Well, that’s not what I was hoping for. I know how stressed I get around _____; next time I will try _____ instead.” You will be much more likely to get back to your healthier goals and lifestyle than if you abuse yourself.
Thankfully, it is only one day. You can get through it. Even if it turns into a disaster, it will be over soon.
When planning your menu, or looking for a dish to take along to a feast, here are some of our most-loved recipes and a few favorites from others:
For more recipes and great ideas on seasonal eating, for Thanksgiving and beyond, grab a copy of Chef Pete's book Paleo By Season to learn the essential techniques for cooking any food using the best fresh, local ingredients.