Thanksgiving – arguably the biggest eating day of the year – is finally here and this nutritionist wants to you enjoy it with wild abandon.
C’mon, how often do you get to enjoy your Aunt Myrtle’s infamous cornbread stuffing? And that vegetarian portion she made just for you? You can’t let that go to waste! Pumpkin pie has a finite season, and whether you’re enjoying a Tofurky centerpiece or a lovingly homemade stuffed squash, this is my advice: Eat. Enjoy. Appreciate.
Which brings us to the day after the biggest eating day of the year. Or, more realistically, the day after that, because everyone knows that there’s no better breakfast than leftover pumpkin pie.
Maybe you’re feeling a little bloated? Your gut might be feeling a bit off? Your stomach is practically begging for a green smoothie or a light salad? Let’s show our bodies a little kindness with a simple four step post-holiday reset.
Move your body
By no means am I telling you to get out there and run 10 miles in penance for holiday eating (and let’s be real, you’d probably have to run a lot farther than that to truly put a dent in that calorie intake). But we do know that not only does moving your body burn through some of the fuel you’ve given it, it also just feels good.
Going for an after dinner walk helps kickstart your digestive system, and, if it’s been overloaded, a little movement can do wonders for helping to move that food along. Movement can also help to alleviate gas and painful bloating, reduce constipation, and generally increase blood flow to your digestive system.
Whether it’s a walk around the block, a gentle yoga practice, or hitting the pool to swim some laps, scheduling some mindful movement in the days following the holiday is the first step to a nourishing reset.
I’m willing to bet your body would be real thankful if you gave it a nice big glass of water.
A lot of the holiday dishes we’re enjoying are fairly high in salt, so you may need a bit of extra water to accommodate that. Plus, chances are pretty good you’ve been drinking some alcohol? You may be a bit dehydrated accordingly.
Let’s be clear: drinking a ton of water after a big meal doesn’t wash away our culinary sins (as it were; I don’t believe in food guilt), but processing all of that food takes up a lot of digestive resources. We need to be well-hydrated in order to move the food through our bodies.
If drinking plain water isn’t your thing, try making some festive infused water, or drinking herbal teas. Adding slices of ginger to your water not only tastes great, but ginger can help soothe your tummy and alleviate digestive discomforts. Or, a nice mug of peppermint tea will do the trick.
Eat green things
And red things. And orange things. And white things. Produce aisle, I’m looking at you!
After a few days of indulgent eating, giving your body a break with some days of lighter eating can be really beneficial. Again, this isn’t about undoing damage done, but about nurturing your body.
Digestion takes up a lot of your body’s resources, and if it’s been working overtime to deal with holiday meals galore, chances are pretty good it could use with a rest so it can direct some energy elsewhere for restoration and repair.
Ask your body what it needs right now. Is it a salad? A smoothie? A bowl full of roasted vegetables and some plant-based protein? The idea isn’t to deprive your body, but to nourish it right now.
Doing a post-holiday reset is a great time to practice intuitive eating if you don’t already. For me, this involves checking in with my hunger and cravings, and going slowly to evaluate how I’m feeling. After a few days of overeating (I always overeat on Thanksgiving, and I know I’m not alone in this) it’s a nice practice to put your food down in between bites and ask yourself whether or not you’re satisfied.
Maybe a salad isn’t cutting it and you need to add some warm protein in order to feel good. Maybe a super green juice is exactly what you want. The only way to know for sure is to work with your body meal by meal, and bite by bite.
Do a little post-holiday meal prep
I find that doing a bit of post-holiday meal prep and batch cooking before the holiday can be useful in this time.
A friend of mine had the genius idea of creating an in-fridge salad bar that she and her holiday guests could use to create their own meals from around the big meal.
I love that idea because it makes it easy to grab a healthy meal if that’s what you’re in the mood for, and I’ve taken it one step further by creating a post-holiday salad bar/snack bar in my fridge.
Chop up raw veggies, marinate some tofu, boil some eggs, make a sauce, so that you’ve got the building blocks of a salad or healthy snack when you need it most.
Or, prep some post-holiday freezer meals that you can pull out and throw into the slow cooker/roasting pan/Instant Pot whenever you need to. The point is to make it easy to grab veggie-loaded meals after the holiday, when you may be feeling tired of cooking.