16 Strategies and Reminders to Enjoy Your Thanksgiving Free of Food and Scale-Related Anxiety and Guilt

Ep. 217 - WordPress (1)

[REMINDER] This is a replay of an original episode on the Screw the Scale Podcast (the former name of this show) from October 2020.

In today’s episode, I share a plethora of strategies, reminders, and hacks to help you intentionally indulge this Thanksgiving Holiday free of guilt and anxiety. 

Listen in to learn how to approach enjoying copious amounts of delicious food from a mindset, emotional, and nutritional perspective so you can navigate the food-centric Holiday free of anxiety, stress, guilt, and regret!

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Episode Key Highlights:

  • Learn how to approach enjoying copious amounts of delicious food from a mindset, emotional, and nutritional perspective so you can navigate the food-centric Holiday free of anxiety, stress, guilt, and regret!

How I Can Help You:

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Paul Salter:

Hey, my name is Paul Salter and I’m a registered dietician and host of the Screw The Scale podcast. If you’re fed up with losing and regaining the same 15 freaking pounds over and over and letting the scale dictate how you feel, then you’re in the right place. Welcome to the show where we discuss the latest long term weight maintenance research and strategies to develop the mindset and behavior changes essential to maintaining your weight once and for all.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to another episode of the Screw the Scale podcast. I’m your host and registered dietician Paul Salter, and I want to wish you the very happiest of Thanksgivings this year. The year is 2020. I imagine most of you listening will be partaking in some form of a virtual Thanksgiving or a significantly smaller gathering than usual. So I wish you all the best and the utmost happiness and joy, however you choose to celebrate this year.

And in today’s episode, we are going to keep things short and sweet and I’m going to walk you through what I believe is going to add up to be 16, maybe 17 simple steps slash reminders to take or keep top of mind to make sure that you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday absolutely free of guilt, anxiety, frustration or stress. So you can truly enjoy this wonderful family and gratitude-centric holiday and occasion to the utmost maximum, and not simply spend this whole day or stretch of days stressing about food or the scale.

And before we dive in, I wanted to share a quick reminder. You have 48 hours to join the early bird registration list for the launch of my brand new course, the Permanent Weight Loss Blueprint because as of Wednesday November 25th, that early bird list closes, the price goes up a hundred dollars and you no longer get to capitalize on the hundred dollars savings. And I’ll be candid with you, going through this course, everyone who’s joined the early bird registration list already got access almost a week ago. They dove in headfirst to the course and have had nothing but outstanding feedback thus far, particularly related to some mindset changes when it comes to having that ‘aha’ moment about trying to adapt healthy nutrition choices to your individual lifestyle and preferences, rather than continually trying to adapt yourself to the variety of different so-called perfect or magical nutrition and diet plans that exist.

So again, I’ll include the link to join the early bird registration list in the show notes. I’m sure you’ve seen me talking about it on social media, at Paul Salter Coaching. And again, Wednesday November 25th is the last day to join this list, and that is when the price goes up $100. Fortunately, if you join the list, you’ll get the coupon code sent immediately to you so you can purchase the course right away and dive in and really spend some Thanksgiving time learning and enjoying.

But without further ado, let’s dive into how to have a fantastic present, mindful, enjoyable thanksgiving without giving a shit about food stress, the scale or anything related. So the first reminder I want to share with you while you navigate your Thanksgiving day is this. One meal, one day does not define you. So even if you go into this Thanksgiving holiday with the utmost perfect intentions to stick to a plan and for whatever reason it doesn’t happen, that meal, that day do not define you. They are so minuscule in the grand scheme of things. So absolutely do not let the singular meal or day bleed into a series of days and cause you to have this whirlwind of negative talk, self doubt, anxiety, guilt, and irrational knee jerk decision making. One meal or one day do not define you.

Secondly, to ensure that you’re able to enjoy this occasion with the utmost presence, mindfulness and lack of stress, guilt, frustration, and anxiety, you need to get very clear and set your intention on a goal or a vision of what this looks like. What I mean by that is you need to spend a few minutes with yourself of visualizing the day, how you’re going to navigate the typical holiday fare, the typical schedule, and determine ahead of time how it is you want to feel the next day. Do you want to feel like you really were present, enjoying this wonderful occasion with delicious food with family, friends and loved ones? Or do you want to feel guilty or stressed or like an asshole the next day because of how you behaved? Chances are it’s the former. So you need to get very clear and paint a picture on how you want to tackle this day, so that way you know how you want to feel Friday morning waking up. Because ultimately when you have this vision in place ahead of time, you give yourself the opportunity to let your thoughts and actions align.

So set your intention, get clear. How do you want to navigate this day? Do you want to eat a few meals before? Do you want to measure these meals before? Do you want to be mindful with or without a food scale during the Thanksgiving holiday? There’s no right or wrong approach. You need to do what makes you feel best because remember, you alone are the only person who has to live with the consequences of your decisions. No one else. So choose you and choose happiness, choose joy, choose presence. Keep in mind this meal or day does not define you. Make the most of it. Noting that this is not an excuse to eat like an asshole and binge, but make the most of it. I’m losing track of my points here, have the confidence that you can and will get back on track.

I want you to let that sink in for a minute. Have the confidence that you will and can get back on track. You likely have years and thousands, hundreds of thousands of repetitions of eating healthy meals, eating meals, adhering to a plan that you have for yourself. Don’t think because you get off track for one meal or one day you’ve suddenly lost your ability to do that. Have the confidence in yourself. You absolutely can get right back on track.

Now, the next tip I want to share with you, a reminder is again, simply focus on what matters most this day. The gratitude, the thankfulness, the family, the friends, the loved ones, the health and safety of your family, friends and loved ones, especially in what is amounted to be a trying year in 2020. So do keep what matters most in mind, and if you’re not someone who has a gratitude practice, I encourage you to at least make this a priority today. When you wake up Thanksgiving morning or whatever day you’re celebrating, take a moment to reflect and perhaps even write down three things you are grateful for in your life. And to help make it easier, choose one thing you’re grateful for in your personal life, one thing in your work life and one thing you’re grateful for about yourself. This is a powerful way to start the day and to really prime you into the mindset of having an open mind for joy, for presence, mindfulness, and love on this special day.

Now we’re going to go segue into some of the strategies. You’re probably listening to this podcast, episode four as they relate to your workout and your nutrition on this day. I want to make it very clear there’s going to be kind of two distinctions or two directions rather, you could take this day. It really simply depends on whether you are dieting or in a maintenance phase. My messaging and recommendations are fairly similar for each.

If you’re dieting, I still encourage you to enjoy your day, have that slice of pumpkin pie, have that extra helping of stuffing or mashed potatoes or dinner rolls, whatever is your favorite foods. This type of cuisine is typically only cooked once a year. This moment is typically a once a year moment, so do enjoy it. Again, this is not an excuse to eat like an asshole, but if you’re dieting, allow yourself to indulge with intention, free of guilt and anxiety. And remember that you have the confidence and ability to get right back on track.

And the only difference here when you’re in a maintenance phase is you simply got a little more wiggle room to work with in terms of your portion goal. So, that is just simply wonderful. And even if you’re dieting, again, I still don’t want you to take this restrictive mindset and approach into the day, because that is what’s going to likely be a trigger for binge like behaviors. No matter how hard you try or prepare, it’s going to be something that consumes your every thought. It’s going to take you away from the present moment, and we do not want that.

But fortunately for those of you dieting, I’m going to walk you through some strategies that I think are applicable to both dieters and maintainers during this phase to help you make sure you are present and still making good choices and not overdoing the portions. So the first thing is do get a workout in of some way, shape, or form this day. Even if it’s as simple as a 15 to 20 minute walk outside, get something in, get your body moving to ultimately help make sure that you are active during the day. You’re not just sitting around all day like a bum and then stuffing your face. You want to get some kind of movement, and daily movement is wonderful. And the added little perk here is if you do get a workout in and then you go have this wonderful meal that is typically a bit higher in portions than you usually have, well those extra calories are really put to good use helping you with recovery, muscle growth and muscle repair. So a little small perk there.

When it comes to the actual meal or portion distribution of your total portions during the day, do not try to just simply fast until the Thanksgiving meal. I don’t recommend that because there’s going to be so much temptation in atypical foods within your Thanksgiving spread that the likelihood of wanting to go out of control and binge is going to be significantly higher if you’re fasted. So instead, still try to eat every three to five hours and simply focus on protein and vegetables at some of these morning or earlier in the day meals. So you have an opportunity to, and I’m doing air quotes, “save” those portions of carbohydrates and fats for that celebratory meal. But that way you still have a consistent intake of fuel, particularly a consistent intake of protein throughout the day, and you’re not showing up at this meal ravenous and only thinking about food, robbing you of being present and thinking about what matters most.

Now when it comes to the actual eating strategies at the meal, here is what I recommend. Throughout the meal, put your utensil down between bites as often as possible. This is going to help slow you down, help you remain present in the moment, help you engage in conversation. Hopefully you have some loved ones around you that don’t get on your nerves, some in-laws that you can converse with and love to hang out with. But put your utensil down, engage in conversation, sip fluid, sip whatever beverage is you’re drinking frequently throughout the meal. Yes, even the alcoholic ones. Again, simply to help you slow down, help to provide fluid and volume to your stomach, because the act of slowing down your eating speed has a powerful appetite suppressing effect. It’s a natural byproduct of eating slowly and allowing volume to accumulate in your stomach. So that’s a behind the scenes win-win working for you as you naturally curb your appetite while still enjoying the foods you love.

Now, building your plate. My first recommendation is start with either a salad or a half a plate of vegetables first. Eating mindfully, putting your utensil down between bites, and then move on to the delicious protein, whether it’s a Thanksgiving turkey, a ham, or whatever you like to do for protein on this holiday. And after you’ve knocked out your vegetables, you’ve enjoyed your protein, then move on to the delicious carbohydrates, the mashed potatoes, the dinner rolls, the stuffing. And I’ll be honest, if you’re like me and you like to put mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey onto a dinner roll, smother it in gravy, yeah, that’s absolutely okay to do too. So definitely enjoy that if that’s how you roll, just like myself, no pun on dinner roll intended.

So at this point we’re eating mindfully throughout. We’re drinking whatever we’re drinking, we’re putting our utensil down between bites. We’ve enjoyed our salad, our veggies. We’ve knocked out protein and carbs. After this, you help clean up and you continue being present. Take a walk, literally 10 to 15 minute walk outside or do something, if you have children present, play with the dogs, the pets, et cetera. Get moving for 10 to 15 minutes. The reason is this is going to have a positive impact on digestion. It’s going to help your body more efficiently and effectively shuttle that blood glucose away from where it needs to be after a huge surge in blood glucose from your carbohydrate rich meal.

And ultimately it’s going to put you in a position where you don’t feel nearly as lethargic, nearly as stuffed and worn out from working so hard to eat this tasty meal. It’s also going to prime you to be in a position to better enjoy the dessert that is coming soon. So I do hope you have saved room for dessert because we’ve got to get some pumpkin pie, some cookies, some apple pie, and all of those good things.

When it is dessert time, I recommend one of two approaches. If you have something you really, really love like pumpkin pie and you know typically only have it once per year, go all in on a generous portion of pumpkin pie. Don’t just try to take a bite. Just simply have the portion you desire, stick with one portion, one plate, take that plate, go walk away from wherever the dessert is being served and put into practice those mindful eating strategies of putting your utensil down, conversing, engaging, et cetera, while you enjoy every single bite, chewing each bite thoroughly of that dessert.

Or if you just simply want to try a little bit of everything, then hey, make a plate of a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Some pies, some cakes, some cookies, some cupcakes, some whatever the heck else you’re serving for dessert. Then similarly, take that plate, go sit down far away from where dessert is being served and enjoy it mindfully. Now at this point, you’re probably reaching the 4:00 PM hour. Maybe some of you eat your Thanksgiving meal a little later.

But I have to remind you, at this point in the day, the Washington football team, formerly known as the Washington Redskins, my near and dear favorite football team ever is probably playing on your TV at this point in your day. So make sure you are rooting for them. It gives me the peace of mind knowing that you too are rooting for this hopeless team to win a couple games, especially against the Dallas Cowboys, their biggest rival, who have really just smashed us the last few years. So it would mean the world to me if you take a second to turn that game on, say, “Go Redskins,” smile, think of me, and then get back to enjoying your day.

Now, jokes aside, getting back on track. Another reminder to kind of summarize and wrap this thing up with a nice bow is you have the power, the experience, and the skill set to get back on track after today. Enjoy the day, be present. Stop worrying about tomorrow, stop worrying about the next day and stop thinking about that damn scale. Do not step on the scale until Wednesday or Thursday of next week. And that’s not to say it’s because you’re going to see this huge gargantuan spike, but it is likely that you are going to see a jump on the scale simply to having more food in your stomach, your digestive system, more carbohydrates, fluids in your body as a result of this day.

So don’t step on the scale. Don’t intentionally provide this anxiety producing moment. Stay away from the scale, get back into your groove of consistency, and then midway next week, then you can step back on the scale. You’re likely going to be right back to where you were pre-Thanksgiving and all is going to be well.

And my last piece of advice for this wonderful occasion and time of year, enjoy it. Truly enjoy it mindfully. This day does not define you. You have all the tools you need to be successful, make the most of it and enjoy it.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you found this episode helpful, I would greatly appreciate it if you share this with someone who also would find it helpful. If you have not already, leave an honest rating and review on iTunes. This helps me to put this type of content, this educational material, these inspirational interviews in front of more people just like you. I’m so grateful and thankful for you for being a listener of the Screw The Scale podcast. I can’t believe we have almost 100, maybe 120 episodes to date at this point, and it’s truly because you continue to come back and listen each week. So thank you so much for that. Have a wonderful rest of your day, a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I will see you or you will hear me, rather, next week to kick off the month of December. Otherwise, enjoy and remember, screw the scale!

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Paul Salter

Paul Salter is a Registered Dietitian and Founder of The 5% Way. Since 2013, Paul has worked one-on-one with nearly 1,500 men and women, helping them to collectively lose tens of thousands of pounds of body fat and keep it off for good. He’s also published nearly 1,000 articles, two books, and 175 podcast episodes (and counting) on all things related to our five core elements of sustainable weight loss.



Micheala is a Transformation and Community Success Coach. She specializes in bringing out the absolute best in you and helping you see that you already have everything you need to achieve the transformational results you desire. Micheala will be an incredible asset for you on your journey since she went through the process herself and has seen long lasting results.

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