Gratitude and Striving for Healthy Behaviors

November 22, 2016 in Foodland Chronicles, General, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

Because Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, it has become my favorite holiday. But if you’ve read last week’s post, you probably figured out that, for me, it can be a day of daunting challenges with food temptations. I know I’m not alone; but I’ve spent some time thinking about ways to defuse the stress; and instead, focus on gratitude and enjoyment of those we love and, of course, the special food.

One aspect of Thanksgiving that seems to add stress to the lives of those who are trying to avoid gaining excessive weight during the holidays is that it’s not just a one-meal event. It seems that many beside myself hate to ever run out of anything – so we make a huge batch of everything. This, naturally, leads to either wasting the food (after it’s been in the fridge for a sufficient number of days) or to eating Thanksgiving meals for several days. Either way, it doesn’t work well for our planet or us.

It’s mind numbing when we recall that about 31% (133 billion pounds) of our nation’s available foods supply goes uneaten, and 60% of that is at the consumer level. So it’s not just restaurants; food processors and farmers; we consumers are wasting 18.6% of that 133 billion pounds of food. That is 24.7 billion pounds – don’t miss the ‘b.’ One source says that a billion tons of food is enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.

Maybe we can start with what we can do. If you have influence over agriculture, restaurant food management or food processors, then you are in a powerful situation, but the rest of us are not without recourse; we can still do something. Although we only represent 18.6% of the waste in this country, that number still boggles the mind/heart. That number represents the fact that the 24.7 billion pounds of food is enough to feed almost 20 million people (19.575 million people). If we could reduce the number of those going hungry by chipping away at 20 million; then maybe the food production side (responsible for 81.4% of food waste) would hearken to our quest.

I’m truly not trying to make you feel guilty. What I’m hoping for is to recognize that big holidays are often a time of enormous food waste. One technique for reducing food waste is to freeze the food that is left. Turkey, for example, is perfect to make into to stir-fry, fried rice, tacos, the ever-popular turkey vegetable soup and hundreds of other recipes. Yes, I’m aware of the longtime favorite, turkey sandwich. If you’re trying to cut back on calories, maybe consider the whole-wheat sandwich thins; what I love about them is that they’re 100 calories of tasty whole-grain goodness to cover both sides of the sandwich.

Let me remind you of a few hints, if you’re striving to avoid excessive weight gain during the holidays.

  • Be choosy – see last week’s post. The point is that you don’t have to eat everything that is offered. Skip the items that are not important to you.
  • Decide ahead how many canapés and/or drinks to consume.
  • If possible, distance yourself from the food table. Try diverting your attention – enjoy friends.
  • Try a taste or very small portion to satisfy desires (and plain old curiosity).
  • Don’t arrive hungry or go a long period without eating. That’s a set up for overeating.
  • Did I share that we have a new tradition? Each Thanksgiving (This will be our third.) we start the day with a 5K – the money goes to the local food bank. It gives us a little reminder all day that some are without sufficient food. But it certainly does not give us license to eat with wild abandon. A 5K burns less than 200 calories for most people. See nice calculator. The good thing about walking during part of the day is being away from food for a while.
  • Don’t beat yourself over a day of overindulgence. Cut yourself some slack – don’t let one day be an excuse to throw in the towel.
  • Instead of trying to be perfect, target the healthiest behaviors that you can,given the constraints of the holiday season.

Striving to be filled with gratitude will be my main goal for Thanksgiving. I get lost in a sea of thought when I think of what I have to be grateful; as the list seems to exist without end. I have learned that we cannot only be grateful during trials, but we can benefit from that gratitude. Gratitude has been a tremendous blessing in my life. I hope Thanksgiving will be a beautiful holiday for you too.