4 Things that Always Seem to Happen on Thanksgiving and What to Do Differently This Year

By: Avital Schwartz, ‘17, University Health Center Peer Educator


1. Eating Way Too Much

You know how it is, we have the best food of the whole entire year, we look forward to it for weeks, and then the night comes, and there is no way we are holding back, right? Somehow we always forget that afterward we can hardly move from the couch, end up feeling stuffed and bloated, and then think, “Why did I do that to myself?”

Well, what if we make this year different? How about starting with a very small portion of every single thing we just gotta have, so that we get a taste of all the yumminess, and then, if we are still hungry (for real), going for another small portion of the things we liked best. If still hungry after that, repeat until satisfied—not stuffed. Eating mindfully (paying attention to how you feel, and eating consciously) will help you to better enjoy the food. In fact, it takes about 20 minutes for our brain to tell our stomach it’s full, so taking a few minutes between servings can help prevent overeating.

2. Traveling

Many UMD students live some distance from our families, or whoever we spend Thanksgiving with, and so traveling, sometimes a LOT of traveling is required.  We all know what happens on a long car ride/plane ride/bus ride/train ride, we munch, snack, and boredom-eat almost the whole time. This usually leaves us fatigued and reaching for coffee after coffee at the rest stops.

This year, what about changing up the snacks you bring with you or buy on the road, and taking a few laps around the rest stops? You can also put the irresistible stuff in the trunk. Try these easy changes and you’ll probably get to Thanksgiving dinner feeling a whole lot better:

  • Popcorn instead of chips
  • Chocolate pudding instead of a chocolate bar
  • Fruit instead of crackers
  • Water instead of soda
  • Gum instead of constant munching

Spending Time With Family

For some people this can be awesome. For others it may come with some amount of stress, and as many of us know, stress can make us eat more than we normally would, or reach for food to cope with emotions. This usually does not make us feel better and often times adds to our stress level.

This year, if feeling stressed when with the family, try taking a calming walk outside, spending a few minutes alone in the bathroom or bedroom, or taking to a corner and writing some thoughts down or reading a book. All of these will give you the space you may be craving, and the time to cope with the emotions without food.

Black Friday Shopping

You may do this every year, or you may have tried it once for the experience. If you get up early in the morning, and stay out shopping for hours, you have very likely forgotten to pack any food. This means you are starving by the time you get home, or find the food court in the mall along with the other throngs of shoppers. And we all know what happens when you are famished and finally get to food. You eat way more than you would normally, and usually eat quickly, scarfing down what you can to get something in your stomach. This means you take zero pleasure in the food, and probably feel pretty stuffed ten minutes later.

This year, plan ahead. Pack some easy-to-carry foods in your bag like trail mix, a banana, carrot sticks, or a sandwich. This way, you can eat in between stores, stop yourself from getting fatigued and hungry, and keep yourself fueled for finding bargains. If you get so busy planning your store stops and forget to pack some food, you can still find something healthful at the mall—but go before you feel super hungry. You could choose a salad bar, a chicken wrap, or a slice of vegetable pizza.

Leave a comment below with what you can do differently this year.

To learn more about staying healthy during the holidays, reserve your session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing NutritionCoach@umd.edu.

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6 Responses to 4 Things that Always Seem to Happen on Thanksgiving and What to Do Differently This Year

  1. Thea B says:

    Great post. I never thought about how Black Friday shopping can leave someone so famished. I also like the idea of talking a walk around the block if someone is feeling stressed with their family over the holiday. My family takes a walk as a tradition after our thanksgiving meal, only the women though. We need to catch up on girl talk!

  2. selenas06 says:

    Thanks for this Avital! I definitely tried out #1 on Thanksgiving. I tried a little bit of everything so that when I went back later, I knew what I wanted more of.

  3. Ashley Statter says:

    What great advice! The holiday season often gets blamed for causing overeating and weight gain, but it is not often acknowledged that under eating before holiday dinners, Black Friday shopping etc. can contribute to this!

  4. eslattery96 says:

    Dealing with family can certainly lead to stress eating! I love the tip for taking a walk outside. Especially with the fall weather it’s a great way to get some air and get away from just grazing in the kitchen all day long.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I think planning ahead of time and packing snacks is a great strategy to use year round! The only thing you have to be mindful of is that some places won’t let you bring any food or drinks with you.

  6. This is such a timely reminder! I love the mindfulness approach, it truly does make food taste better. Thanks Avital!

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