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Take Back Control of Your Body This Holiday Season

Follow these tips for a guilt-free, gluten-free Thanksgiving.

By Julie Terrana of Best Whole Self

The holiday season creates a lot of room in our hearts for family, but leaves little breathing room in our pants. Since we only indulge in these favorite family recipes once a year, it’s rather hard to put the fork down. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I have spent years tweaking my recipes so that I can indulge without feeling guilty or ill from overeating. Here are six ways to experience a healthy, enjoyable Thanksgiving. This year, focus on what you can eat rather than what you can't eat, all the while keeping your waistline in check.

Eat Breakfast

It is not uncommon for us to skip breakfast the morning of Thanksgiving so that we can leave more room for the delicious feast later that day. While this may sound like a smart strategy, not eating breakfast creates the potential for overeating later on. It is best to enjoy a light breakfast that is packed with protein and fiber to ward off sugar crashes and hunger pangs. I love a good protein and fruit smoothie or scrambled eggs with spinach and a side of berries. These are delicious, easy gluten-free breakfast options that will leave you satisfied.

Swap Recipes

You can make all of your favorite side dishes and deserts healthier with a few simple swaps.

Drink Water

Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. By sipping on water in between bites, you will also slow down and allow your body to recognize when it is full before you overeat.

Savor Every Bite

Speaking of slowing down while you eat, take time to truly enjoy every part of your Thanksgiving meal. Savor the sweetness of the yams and juiciness of the turkey. It takes 20 minutes for your food to reach your stomach and for your brain to recognize that you are full. Therefore, you should aim for the “20-minute meal” rule and take at least 20 minutes to finish your plate. This will be easier when surrounded by others, since you can engage in a conversation between bites.

Slowing down and really chewing your meal will make it easier for your body to digest the food, reducing the feeling of fatigue after you eat. We all know that the tryptophan in turkey makes us sleepy, but the amount of energy our bodies require to digest the large meal also adds to the desire to nap after dinner.

Spend Time with Family Away from the Food

It happens every year. You finish dinner, then the family starts reminiscing about favorite vacations and telling stories of holidays past and you continue to pick at the food on the table just because it’s there. That is completely normal, and I know it's hard to resist those candied yams that keep staring back at you saying, “Get your fill in now, because you won’t see me again for another year.” Or maybe you are just subconsciously picking on the box of chocolates sitting in front of you, not even realizing how many you have eaten.

Don’t worry, there is a solution for that. Rather than sitting in front of the food to talk, suggest that the family sit in another room to enjoy coffee, tea and conversation. Or, if it's nice out, suggest a walk around the block to burn off some of those calories and eliminate food from your sight. If it’s tradition to sit around the dinner table and chat after your meal, suggest helping your host clear the table first, so that temptation to mindlessly eat is eliminated.

About Julie Terrana of Best Whole Self

Julie is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach in Philadelphia. She has been a volunteer for Beyond Celiac since 2013. Living with Crohn’s Disease, Julie has had a goal to reach remission since 2009. Despite trying numerous medications, she continued experiencing severe flares that led her to being hospitalized and eventually having surgery. In the summer of 2013, Julie went gluten-free and it changed her life. She has since experienced fewer flares and was able to run a half marathon in November 2013. Julie’s journey adjusting to a gluten-free diet has led her to develop a passion for helping others adapt to a similar lifestyle changes. She shows her clients that living with dietary restrictions does not have to be difficult and teaches them to navigate the obstacles of gluten-free living with ease and grace. Physical and emotional health are the main focal points in working with clients, which has led Julie to committing to her motto, “It is not about being skinny. It’s about being your best whole self.”

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