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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #30: Plan Your Thanksgiving Feast

Show Notes

November 23, 2022

In this week's episode, we're going to talk about building a Thanksgiving meal plan that fits your goals. The most important steps are:
1. Create a realistic plan
2. Feel confident that you will stick to your plan
3. Actually stick to the plan

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Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh, and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight Podcast, episode number 30. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hey everyone, thanks for joining me today. It is early in the morning when I am recording and I have a little bit of a froggy voice. I always have that when I first wake up in the morning, it usually goes away in an hour or two, but here I am first thing in the morning recording this podcast for you. My husband gets up super early to work out and go to work, and the kiddos are all sleeping. And so I thought, what better time to record this podcast so that you all can have your Thanksgiving plans starting to get ready? So if you are listening to the episode on the day that it airs, then it is the day before Thanksgiving today. And as you know, Thanksgiving is notoriously the holiday most associated with eating and overeating. And then it kicks off the holiday season of parties and all of the end of the year gatherings that take us through Christmas and Hanukkah, all of which then culminate in the new year. And then, of course, in the new year, we set all of our goals to lose weight and start afresh in whatever problem areas we're having in our lives. And while you can totally set whichever goals you want to for the new year, one thing I talk to people about over and over again is that each year, every November and December, they enter into this overeating mode, and then they end the year a few pounds heavier. So the new year comes and they're starting off just a little further behind than they were, and we set these goals for ourselves, but by the end of the year, we've totally forgotten about those goals. And then each year it's just a little bit worse and it's this bad cycle that we can get into. And so today I want to help you plan your holiday season so you can maintain your weight at the very least and possibly even lose weight. But I want you to think about the goals you have for yourself. So often we want to set these huge and lofty goals, and so maintaining our weight, keeping our weight the same, it doesn't feel like a win. But if you look back in the past and if in holiday seasons past, you've gained a couple pounds here, a couple of pounds there, while it's not a huge amount of weight, just one period of time in the grand scheme of things, it really starts to up two pounds here, five pounds there, another three pounds after a couple of years, all of a sudden you're 10, 20, 50 pounds overweight. And if you could stop that upward trajectory and first achieve weight maintenance, is it possible that that could feel like an amazing first step for you? So that's what we're going to talk about today. And specifically, we're going to be talking about Thanksgiving and how we apply all of these principles to Thanksgiving or really any holiday party or celebration that's coming up. I want you to reflect on tomorrow and being intentional about planning the day that makes sense for you and your goals and where you're at in your weight loss journey. And like I said, maybe we start with a weight maintenance journey. I can't tell you exactly what the steps are because I don't know what your Thanksgiving plan entails or what those holiday parties are going to look like. But let me ask you some questions to get started, and I'm gonna give you some templates to help build the perfect plate and the perfect celebrations for your future. So first, for tomorrow, for Thanksgiving, what are your plans? Will you be eating just one Thanksgiving meal or do you need to account for multiple Thanksgiving meals in the day? Are you going to one family in the morning and one family in the evening? Will you have one Thanksgiving on Thursday, but maybe another celebration over the weekend? For example, are you hosting Thanksgiving or will you be attending someone else's Thanksgiving? If someone else is hosting, do you know what's on the menu? Will you bring any dish to share? Stop and think about this information and possibly even write it down all of it just so you can get really clear about what to expect. For many people, they are going to a Thanksgiving celebration with family or friends. That tends to be pretty similar year to year. And while a few dishes might change, you can make a pretty educated guess about what that day will look like. For some people though, it might be your first time attending a Thanksgiving in a totally new situation. Maybe you have a new significant other, or you're attending with a different side of the family. Either way, I want you to put yourself in your shoes. On Thanksgiving evening, I want you to picture the meal's over. You've just eaten and you're all sitting around afterwards. And I want you to tune into yourself. I want you to imagine how do you want to feel that evening you've just finished the meal? How do you wanna feel both physically and emotionally? So first, let's talk about physically, because when we eat, especially when we overeat, it has a huge physical impact on our body. Do you wanna feel satisfied? Do you wanna be a little bit full? Do you want to be so uncomfortably full that you can't sit up straight and you have to unbutton your pants or loosen your belt? Think about Thanksgivings you've had in the past. How have you felt then? And how do you wanna feel this Thanksgiving? Is it going to be similar or different? What would feel amazing? And then how can you create that physical feeling? What is the amount of food? And what are the types of food you are going to choose to help create that feeling in your body? And then I want you to tune into your emotions. How do you want to feel emotionally? Do you want to feel content because you followed the plan that you made? Do you wanna feel resentful because you skipped foods you love eating? Do you wanna feel ashamed because you ate foods that you hadn't planned on eating, but oh my gosh, they just looked so good and so you ate them? Anyway, here's the thing. All of this is totally optional and completely in your control, and none of it is about deprivation. It's about being intentional about the choices that are going to create the best version of you. Because here's a secret. You can eat two full plates of food, three slices of pie, and fill yourself silly, and you're not really going to gain that much weight in one day. Sure, maybe a couple of pounds, but it's just a couple of pounds. One day doesn't make that big of a difference when we're looking simply at the quantity of food you're eating. What does make a big difference though, is being intentional about decisions for ourselves, being intentional about how you want the day to go, and then choosing for that day to go exactly as planned. That is the most important thing we can do when it comes to developing our relationship with ourselves and learning to love ourselves and accept ourselves. Because long term, if you can develop a relationship with yourself that you know you've got your own back no matter what, you are so golden. When you love yourself and care for yourself and make decisions from that place, you unleash a superpower because you get to make the best decisions for yourself and love yourself unconditionally. So, so really, your plan for Thanksgiving can be there is no plan. I'm going to eat whatever I want. I'm going to fill myself as full as I want to be. And if that's your plan, that is totally fine, but it's really only fine if it creates the feeling you want to have. Will you feel perfectly content and physically satisfied that evening? Will you feel those same emotions when you reflect back on your weight loss goals? And if so, excellent, your plan can absolutely be there is no plan. But if on the other hand, you're sitting around that evening and feeling guilty and beating yourself up, or trying to convince yourself you made the right choice, or, well, maybe that wasn't the right approach. So ask yourself, how do I want to feel physically and emotionally? And then start to craft your plate based on that? What are the foods that you absolutely love and it's worth it for you to have, even if they aren't foods you would typically eat? If you look forward to having a slice of your mom's pumpkin pie each year, then have a slice, plan to have a slice, and then have a slice and feel good about it because you stuck to your plan. This is the most important part. What is important here is that, one, you make a realistic plan. Two, you read your plan and you feel totally confident that you will stick to your plan. And three, you do actually stick to your plan on Thanksgiving day. If you know each Thanksgiving, your family has pumpkin pie and pecan pie and apple pie, and you wanna have a slice of each of those three pies and have three slices of plate pie, then please put that on your food plan. I know that sounds crazy as a weight loss physician, but it is so much better to plan to eat three slices of pie than actually eat three pieces of pie and know that you've stuck to your pan than it is to plan to eat one slice of pie, actually eat three slices of pie, and then beat yourself up because you didn't follow the plan. The amount of pie ends up being the exact same in both scenarios, but the outcome is totally different. In the first scenario where you've planned to eat three slices of pie, you've reinforced your relationship with yourself, you planned three slices, you ate three slices, that's what you wanted to do. But in the second scenario, when you plan to eat just one slice of pie and actually ate three slices, you tear your relationship with yourself down because you didn't stick to what you had planned to do. So often we create these unrealistic plans for ourselves that we know we can't or we won't follow, and then we're so disappointed in ourselves. But it's sort of funny because you are the one that set yourself up for failure. So can you choose to set yourself up for success instead? So ask yourself, how do you want to feel after your Thanksgiving meal? And I will tell you, I want to feel satisfied physically. I'm okay to be full, but I don't wanna be uncomfortably full. And emotionally, I want to feel content as a general recommendation. Think about proteins and vegetables that are going to be available, and after you put those onto your plate mentally, or actually consider the foods that you wouldn't normally eat and which one of those you want to be intentional about adding to your plate, and plan to fill your plate with an appropriate quantity of those foods that you love. So let me tell you about my Thanksgiving plate. I planned it for this episode, and I'm going to follow through on it. When it is Thanksgiving day, I am going to eat turkey and mashed potatoes, both of which I am going to smother with gravy. I'll also have helpings of green beans and corn and oysters, which is a traditional dish in our family. Those are the foods that are consistent with my regular food plan. Next, I'm going to add a serving of corn casserole, which is my absolute favorite. If you don't know what it is, it's like a really creamy cornbread, delicious, cheesy, creamy dish . And I'm going to have a slice of pie. I haven't decided if I'll have a dinner roll or not. I will plan to have half a roll if they are freshly baked, and I'll skip a roll if they are store-bought. And half a roll might sound chinsy, but my mom does, we call 'em butt rolls, which is like totally inappropriate, but we've been calling them that since we were children. But they're basically two balls of dough that are stuck into a muffin pan. And so when they, uh, bake, they expand out and they kind of look like, you know, butt cheeks, which is not a medically appropriate thing to say, or probably an appropriate thing to say at all. But then you can pull 'em apart and they easily separate into two halves, which are actually just like a whole slice of bread or a whole piece of bread. So I'll have half a roll if they're freshly baked, I'm just gonna skip 'em if my mom bought 'em from the store and my mom who listens to my episodes. If you're listening to this episode on the day it airs, please don't change your plans. I just know to me it's worth it to eat a freshly baked roll. But a store-bought rule is like, eh, you know, take it or leave it. And what my above plan means is that there are things I'm skipping, I'll probably skip stuffing, or I'm going to skip stuffing because honestly, I just don't like it that much. I'm going to skip sweet potato casserole because it's a take it or leave a dish for me. And the canned cranberry sauce, again, take it or leave it. These three foods just aren't part of my regular food plan, and honestly, they don't excite me that much. So it is worth it for me to eat certain foods, but those ones, eh, is it worth it for me to eat them if I don't love them? No. And as you listen to this, you might be thinking, well, that's all fine and dandy, Dr. Stombaugh, but I have no idea what's going to be served at my Thanksgiving or the Thanksgiving I'm attending. And that might be totally true, but you can either make an excuse and like, oh, poor you, you can't make a plan. Or maybe you can find a way to make a plan anyway. Can you figure out what will be served? Can you call the host or hostess and ask what will be served? You don't have to be weird about it. You don't have to say like, eh, on a diet, I wanna make sure there's food I can eat. Don't be weird. Instead, call and offer to bring something. Call and say to the host, Hey, I'd love to bring a dish to share. Can you tell me what dishes will be there so I can bring something different? So now you've both found out what will be served and you've shown your good manners to the host. And then you can choose to bring something that you love that also fits your food plan. Or let's say you don't feel comfortable calling the host or hostess for whatever reason, and asking what you can bring and asking what's in the menu. You could still choose to bring something that you know you'll enjoy. You can bring a giant salad or a roasted vegetable or something delicious that you love. And I promise you, most hosts are going to be totally thrilled when you show up with a dish to share. But let's say you're traveling and you'll be attending a Thanksgiving, and you really feel like there's no way to plan what you're eating. You have no idea what's going to be served. You don't feel comfortable figuring it out. You can't bring a dish because you're traveling maybe like by airplane. The good news is you could still make a plan for that too. So instead of knowing what the exact foods are, you could make a general plan for your plate. So for example, you could decide that you're going to fill, fill one quarter of your plate with protein, fill half of your plate with vegetables and the remaining quarter of your plate with whatever processed carbohydrates you choose. And then that you'll have one serving of dessert afterwards. And with those general guidelines in mind, you can build your plate that matches it. So I want you to spend some time reflecting on this today or really reflecting on this. Any point in the future when you've got a big food celebration coming up, first, ask yourself, how do you want to feel both physically and emotionally? And then craft a plan based on that? And here's the important part. Make a plan that feels realistic that you know you'll stick to, and then do it. I'm gonna say that a second time because this is the most important part. Your plan should be realistic. You should feel confident. You'll stick to it, and then you actually need to stick to it. And then when you stick to your food plan, you should enjoy it. Enjoy every single bite of every single food that you plan to eat, even the cranberry sauce, even the alcohol, even the plan, or even the pie. If it was your plan, then you stuck to your plan. Celebrate that and that evening, pay attention to the thoughts you're having. Do you feel good about the choices you made? Or do you find that you're having guilt? Even if you stuck to your plan? Remind yourself, I made a plan and I stuck to my plan. And what happens if you don't stick to your plan? Can you look at it from a place of curiosity instead of just forgiving yourself and moving on immediately? Instead of beating yourself up, can you instead look at it as an opportunity to learn? Why didn't you stick to your plan? Was it unrealistic? Were there foods you didn't anticipate? What did you make those mean? What are you making it mean about yourself that you didn't stick to your food plan? Each time we have a failure in our lives. We can either use it as an opportunity to beat ourselves up or an opportunity to grow. It's completely your choice. I'd love to hear about your Thanksgiving plans, or if I can help you with other plans for holiday parties or big celebrations. Let me know how I can best support you on your weight loss journey. You can visit my website at That's www S-A-R-A-H-S-T-O-M-B-A-U-G-H-M-D dot com. To learn more about me and enroll in my medical weight loss practice. If you live in Illinois or Virginia, I see patients via telemedicine. If you don't live in Illinois or Virginia and you'd like getting help connected with an obesity medicine physician or a life coach who would be a good fit for you, let me know. I would love to help you out. Thank you so much for joining me today. Happy Thanksgiving. I'll see you all in two weeks. Bye-bye.
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