Meal Planning a Week Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving tableThe week before Thanksgiving, folks in Weight Watchers meetings practice picking the foods they want to eat for the big holiday meal. I’ve done this several times now and it’s still a useful exercise because the mind cleverly forgets how fast it all adds up.

There are three different things to consider in building the meal: the item, the portion size, and the frequency. Because we all know Thanksgiving food tends to generate leftovers and therefore repeated temptation.

Here’s the list of some traditional Thanksgiving foods with their point values:

1 slice turkey – 2 points
1/2 C. stuffing – 4 points
1/4 C. gravy – 2 points
1/4 C. Cranberry sauce – 2 points
1 C. Green beans – 0 points (but 5 pts if you eat green bean casserole)
1 C. salad – 0 pts (but add whatever points you’d use for dressing if you use it)
1 C. fruit salad – 2 points
Dinner roll – 3 points
1 large Sweet potato – 3 points
1/2 C. Mashed potato – 2 points
1 C. Winter squash – 1 point
1 slice pumpkin pie – 9 points
1 slice apple pie – 9 points
1 oz. mixed nuts – 4
Glass of wine – 3 points
Coffee or tea – 0 points

Realistically none of us is going to eat all of that stuff, not any more and not after seeing how many points it all works out to be! There are some things that are not negotiable for me and they won’t be the same things that you decide are worth having. I want stuffing and only have it twice a year so it’s on my list, but can live without dinner rolls or nuts. Turkey is also necessary (duh). Wine is nice but not necessary and not drinking it is not nearly as conspicuous as it used to be. I can use the points for other things.

Pie is a problem because I rarely have it, so when it’s around, I want to eat it. But I never really liked pumpkin pie so if that’s the only choice, I can have just a tiny bit and be fine. Apple or mince? Much bigger problem. When I build my plate, I make sure to allow points for a slice of something and then don’t feel guilty about what I do eat.

Some strategies to think about and consider:

  • Focus more on people than food
  • Lighten up some of your traditional recipes
  • Don’t skip other meals on the holiday; you’ll just eat more
  • Use smaller plates
  • Wear fitted clothes – not skin tight, but enough that you feel full faster
  • Drink water
  • Exercise – go for a walk sometimes in the day, maybe with others in between courses or by yourself in the morning
  • Plan to see some of your plate around the food you put on it
  • If you’re hosting, prepare sensible quantities so you don’t have excessive leftovers
  • Eat lots of veggies to help control portions of food with higher points value
  • Share leftovers with guests
  • Freeze leftovers in portion controlled containers to enjoy later

No matter how yummy something tastes, the last bite of it will taste the same as the first; it won’t get better. So I really don’t need to eat until I am so stuffed that I can’t move; there is no point to it and it won’t make me feel better about myself. I have a lot to be thankful for and I’d rather focus on that than on beating myself up over food.
I have a week to practice. What are some of your strategies and tips?