Prepping for Turkey Day – with your Gut in Mind

(Video version can be found on my Facebook page – Peggy Smith Wellness, Live Video Dated 11/15/2018)

First of all, how in the world did we already get to the point that Thanksgiving is exactly a week away?? Not even a tiny bit certain where the year went!

But since we all agree we are for real, just a week away from turkey day – let’s chat for a few minutes about some things we can do as we prep to make the day a tad bit healthier for our guts!

So my first goal is to send you on an internet search for some tweaks to your typical Thanksgiving Day recipes. I am in charge of the bird this year for the first time in my entire life! You’re probably wondering how it is possible I’ve arrived at almost 50 having never cooked a turkey, but when you are married to a man who truly should be a chef, he tends to tackle those big important kitchen jobs! And we are blessed to have both sets of parents in town and they love to cook as well – so it’s just never been my turn, until this year! So I’ve been looking at recipes and ideas a lot more than usual and there are some great resources out there! I found some fun ones on Delish, Cooking Light and Eating Well. Replacements like mashed cauliflower (just make sure there’s some gravy and folks probably won’t throw it at you), yummy fall salads with chunks of butternut squash, brussel sprouts in all kinds of fun ways and combinations, baked apples and pumpkin pie dip. And if you have some recommendations you’d like to share – tried and true recipes, please post them!!!

So after you have planned ahead for some strategic healthier choices to be on the table, what are some ways to better tackle the day of?

The first thing I’d say is to be sure to eat breakfast! If you skip you’re likely to do a couple of things – first, you’ll graze more as you are prepping food and second you will much more likely overeat when meal time finally does arrive.

Second, survey all your options before you put anything on your plate. Make sure everything that you put on your plate is something that you have either waited all year for (for me that would be corn pudding) or that you truly love. If you just get everything or aren’t particular then you will consume more calories and likely feel more guilty than if you know that you considered all your options carefully and are eating exactly what you love the most.

Next, don’t feel anxiety about trying all the things on day one. Day two and three can be pretty amazing if there are leftovers and you can extend the festivities through the weekend! When we don’t have the mentality that it is now or never, we can cool our jets and only take what makes sense for one meal.  If you aren’t eating at home and the leftovers won’t be in your own fridge – ask your host if they would mind letting you bring a little of your favorite things home with you (bring your own container even because you can be pretty certain if they invited you to share in the special day they won’t mind sharing with you at all)!

Also, be careful of how many calories you give up on turkey day to beverages! Keep water nearby so that alcohol or sugary beverages aren’t the only thing you consume all day long.

Try to practice some mindfulness. You can do this even in the midst of a busy meal by just putting your fork down while you chew and checking in with the signals your body is sending you. It’s okay not to eat the things you don’t love, if you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings be strategic and leave a little bit of a few things so it doesn’t just look like it was Aunt Mildred’s casserole you didn’t care for.

And lastly, keep in mind that just as important (if not more so) than the food is the company you are with. Engage in fun conversation while you are around the table and create traditions that are about things other than food – like perhaps going around the table and talking about what you are most thankful for that year or other such things that keep the real reason for the day as front and center as the turkey is!

p.s. tip – Keep political and other heated conversations for a time other than when you are eating as a gift not only to one another but also to your gut. Remember that your body can only be in one mode at a time – either the fight and flight mode or the rest and digest mode. If you get all wound up while you are trying to eat and get your stress response engaged, you can’t digest your food properly – it literally stops digesting to conserve all the energy for whatever fight or flight is about to happen. Hopefully no actual fights happen at the dinner table and no one literally runs from the table in anger – but your body responds to all triggers in the same way.

So keep the conversation casual and calm and fun to keep your body in that rest and digest cycle (so that when it comes time for pie your body has been working on digesting all the turkey and stuffing!).

If I can help with any advice on foods your gut really loves the most to add to your menu (hint hint – all the vegetables, none of the sugar) please reach out and let me know.

Until next time friends –


XO – Peggy

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