The week before Thanksgiving. Traditionally, at least in the past, this week before Thanksgiving meant the annual WW Great Plate Thanksgiving prep workshop. I loved that week in Weight Watchers meeting rooms. I looked forward to it every year. That workshop gave me an opportunity to plan for the holiday meal, to learn tips and tricks for navigating a food laden holiday and one that could be stressful.
I learned a lot in that one annual workshop. The first time I attended and really absorbed the ideas of the Great Plate workshop was 2006, on my 5th journey with WW. My then leader, gave us all paper plates and then we planned.
This year and last year we did not do the Great Plate workshop and I miss it! I miss the planning, the discussion of the point values of all our favorites, the ideas shared, the tips on how to navigate the day and the weeks that followed. I miss the recipes shared, and the tips on making a favorite recipe a little lighter, and lower in point values. I miss the connection with others and sharing of challenges that the holidays presented and how we could get through those challenges.
Workshops were then and still are where the magic happens! And I have learned a lot over the past 13 years in those workshops from other members sitting in the chairs. With Thanksgiving next week, I have been thinking a lot about what I learned for many years in the Thanksgiving Great Plate workshops and how I could use those lessons this year.
How do I navigate the holiday? What has helped me and will help me as I go through this years “eating season”?
Here are just a few of the things I have learned these past few years—
–-Know your budget—And build it! Whether your budget is calories or points, know what it is and how to increase it. With WW we all have a daily and weekly budget to spend on food. Know what that is for yourself. Save those extra weekly points for the day of your holiday meal. Add in some fitpoints, earned through exercise and activity for the week leading up to the holiday. Save some of those daily points and roll them over into the weekly to use for the holiday meal. All of this builds a great budget for us to use and not feel guilty when we indulge in our favorite foods!
–Plan your meal—This is what the Great Plate workshop did…. It helped us to plan our meal. What are you going to have? What are the special family foods that will be at the meal? Write your meal on a paper plate so you can see what you will be eating on Thanksgiving. Planning and visualizing the meal will help when the day finally arrives.
–-Know the smartpoint values of the food—Once you plan your meal, check the point values of the foods you would like to eat, the ones you wrote on your plate. Knowledge is power and knowing what the food will cost you, will help you to plan and to build your budget so you have plenty to spend on your holiday meal. Look up the smartpoints of your foods on the WW app and run your recipes through the recipe builder to get the smartpoint values. And if you don’t have the app or recipe then estimate—look for similar foods. Know before you go… Know before you eat!
–Lighten up Recipes—There are tons of recipes online (Skinnytaste, Emily Bites, Pound Dropper, WW) that are lighter versions of favorite Thanksgiving foods. Try one or two. Or find ways to substitute ingredients in recipes that will bring down the calories and ultimately lower the point values…try light butter, use phyllo dough for pie crust, use unsweetened applesauce in place of oil, use egg whites, etc. Over the years I have made many changes in recipes, some were successful, and we still use them (Cauliflower Stuffing from Delish) and some didn’t work so well…. There are just some foods that we love as is, and that don’t work when we lighten them up. The most important thing is to find a way to lighten up a recipe without losing the flavor—that is how we will feel satisfied and we won’t feel deprived!
–Choose Wisely—focus on the foods that are special for this holiday and skip the food you eat regularly. Walk around the buffet table BEFORE dishing up your plate and pick what is really worth it to you. What is worth it to you?? I only make my roll recipe for Thanksgiving and Christmas and attempts to lighten the recipe just didn’t work….it wasn’t the same, so those rolls are absolutely worth it to me and I will spend a chunk of my budget on those rolls. Knowing and building your budget and planning how to spend that budget BEFORE Thanksgiving will help you to make decisions that work for you and that are worth it to you!
–Skip the Stretch– wear tighter Clothing—Don’t wear loose fitting, stretchy clothes to Thanksgiving. Why? Well, have you ever eaten a big Thanksgiving meal and had to unbutton your pants or loosen your belt? That is why we don’t wear loose fitting clothes. Tighter pants will help us to stop eating sooner, keeping us from eating to the point of being over-stuffed and about to burst. Skip the stretch this holiday season!
–Get in some activity—before, during and after Thanksgiving. Go for a walk after the meal….. Play some football…. Participate in a Turkey Trot…. Go for a hike…. Just move a little and maybe start a new family tradition. My husband and I go for a long walk or a hike on Thanksgiving morning. It helps me to feel like I have earned a little treat but more importantly that activity puts me in the right frame of mind to stay on track and not over-indulge too much.
–Pay attention to Portions—some serving utensils are also measuring utensils in disguise and you can use them to dish up your food without anyone knowing you are portioning out your serving. You can also use your hand to estimate portions. If measuring isn’t an option and you can’t remember the hand portion estimates you can always use the Island method—a method I shared with my members every year that I coached the Great Plate Workshop—Make Islands NOT continents or volcanoes on your plate with your food. Making islands helps to control portion size and keeps us aware!
–Have an anchor—An anchor is the thing, thought, or visual that reminds you of your goal, your why. You have set a holiday goal of where you would like to be on January 1st, now find an anchor that reminds you of your goal. It can be something you can touch or a mantra you say or a photo or a picture in your mind. Whatever your anchor is, use it to help you get through the Thanksgiving holiday.
–Enjoy the day—focus on loved ones. Focus on conversations and traditions. Yes, Thanksgiving is a food holiday, but it is also a day to enjoy family and friends and to be thankful. Have your plan but don’t stress about it…. control what you can and let go of the rest. And Enjoy the day!
–Have a “Day after” plan—yes, pre-plan the day after. Get rid of the leftovers so they aren’t tempting you. Plan the healthy meals you will enjoy the day after Thanksgiving. And plan the kind words you will say to yourself if you over-indulge and go off plan. Plans are great, but sometimes we just take a detour. If you have the “day after” plan ready it will make forgiving yourself easier and will help you to get right back on track.
What is your plan for Thanksgiving? How are you going to handle the day? How will you build your budget? What foods are worth it to you?
Knowledge is power! And planning is a powerful tool. Use it to help you navigate the day so that you feel successful!
And remember—Don’t Gobble ‘Til you Wobble!
It is a HoliDAY, NOT a HoliWEEK!
(One more surviving the eating season blog post is coming—the next one will be on pies and pie servings with a visual on how to estimate what a true serving size is!)