For many of us, even though we are gathering for a big celebration dinner next week, we want to keep on track of our healthy lifestyles and healthy eating. We don’t want to stress out about feeling deprived, or even worse, just throw in the towel and totally “fall off the wagon.” After all, there will always be special events, birthdays, holidays, or potlucks at work — it’s called life — that can allow us to give up on our goals of a healthier lifestyle. So what should we do?
This year, since we are not hosting at home but instead are having dinner with family a few hours away, the kids and I started to think about dishes we could bring to share at the festivities. In that light, I started thinking about some simple tips on how to handle Thanksgiving Dinner Challenges that you may find useful:
1. Check with the host(ess) about any special dietary needs: As it turns out, we are not the only ones attending the holiday dinner who has a dietary preference. This is the third year that we are completely plant-based and avoid all dairy, but there will be some guests who are primarily Paleo; and as far as allergies — someone has a peanut allergy and someone has a mushroom and hazelnut allergy. All very important to know when preparing dishes. As it turns out, (other than the allergies) everyone is open to any great veggie side dishes. So, we are all set!
2. Bring your smile and helping hands: Often times in a large gathering, there will be plenty of personalities and dynamics to go around. Focus on the positive, roll up your sleeves and pitch in wherever help is needed. Nothing makes a big event go smoother than many helping hands, a big smile and always keeping your eyes open to see where your help might be needed. Keeping your stress level low and your hands busy will help you avoid reaching for too many goodies or pre-dinner appetizers to calm your mood.
3. Bring your confidence: As you sit down at the table, there is no reason to announce to the group that what you have brought to share is “fat-free,” or “vegetarian” or “all vegan!” After all, that might sound like “my food is good and your food is bad.” Simply let people enjoy what you brought because it tastes really good and besides, the ingredients will be ones that everyone can enjoy.
4. Enjoy just a bite: When filling your plate, it’s not necessary to take huge servings. After all, don’t you agree that it’s always the first bite, not the 5th or 6th, that tastes the best? So try that. Just take a “taste” of the more calorie dense dishes, fill the rest of your plate with lots of colorful veggies, and hold back on the gravy or extra butter on your potatoes or dinner roll. That way you will get to sample many tasty items but not really overdo on anything.
5. Bring your camera: Be sure to take lots of pictures of this special day because there really is nothing more wonderful than getting together with friends and family and creating memories. And don’t forget to print out some hard copies to post on the fridge, or in a cute little frame, or in a simple little memory book that you can leave out on the coffee table to enjoy for days to come.