Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Grain Free and Full of Grace and Gratitude
Posted on 21 November 2014
As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to help you make a conscious effort to avoid the whole post-feasting exhaustion and "long winter's nap" comes from a carb and grain overload. All I want for my tribe is to avoid spiking and plunging our collective blood sugar on Thanksgiving. May we ignite joy, not inflammation! Every bite of food, whether it’s part of a Thanksgiving meal or a weekday lunch, travels on its own beautiful journey through the body, setting off a dance party release of hormones, chemicals and digestive fluids. Our system converts food into a broad range of nutrients that give us the energy and mojo we need to be our sexy, vibrant selves. If we aren’t digesting our food properly, these nutrients aren’t absorbed and that’s where the problems begin. If we’re chronically stressed, we’re likely to suffer a suppressed immune system and we can be overrun with pathogens. This increases gut inflammation and permeability of the intestinal lining—and that can result in Leaky Gut. Stress also releases cortisol, which activates the sympathetic nervous system and fires of a “flight or fight” response that suppresses metabolic processes that are not required for immediate survival—including digestion. So you can see that stress and eating have a direct biological correlation with one another. When we are in a relaxed state, the parasympathetic nervous system is active, which prepares the body for resting and digesting. Stomach acid production increases and the blood supply is drawn into the digestive organs. Our body gets ready to receive food and kick off the slow, natural process of absorption so we maximize the nutritional benefit we get from fork and spoonful of food we eat. Being mindful and giving thanks at mealtime puts our mind in that relaxed state and can be one of the most important things we can do to improve our digestion and nutritional status. As you sit at the Thanksgiving table, before you take that very first bite, feel that “in your gut” sensation of gratefulness and thanks, not only for the amazing way your body works, but of the love and friendship of everyone sitting around you. If you’re feeling stressed when you’re about to eat, take a few deep breaths. Focus on a soothing word. Put an image in your mind of your favorite place or the most tranquil spot you can imagine. Say a prayer. Do whatever you can to move to a calm, relaxing state—then take your first bite. Your body will thank you and you’ll make the most of that delicious meal in front of you. Ways to increase your parasympathetic nervous system and not overeat
- Eat a protein/fat/fiber rich breakfast so your blood sugar is stable
- Stay hydrated all day
- Write down 10 reasons you are grateful for the people and occasion ahead
- Meditate in the car and take deep, relaxed breaths before you arrive and throughout the gathering
- Engage, but do not react
- Eat slowly and chew lots (remind yourself why you are grateful while you chew)
- Make every cocktail or mocktail last at least 45 minutes and have a glass of water lasting just as long between every class of wine, beer or cocktail
- Contribute to the dinnertime conversation. The more you talk, the less you’ll eat.
- Turkey (organic, free range, and pastured on lush grass and sunshine)
- Portobello Mushroom Gravy (I roast the mushrooms in rosemary and substitute arrowroot for flour or cornstarch. Creamy and vegan goodness.)
- Cranberry Sauce (I always omit sugar and keep it tart ‘n smart. I add ginger, lemon or orange zest, and fresh mint.)
- Brussels Sprouts (Roast ‘em. Even kids like these veggies.)
- Mashed potatoes (I always use sweet potatoes and coconut milk and put in some shredded unsweetened coconut.)
- Green salad (I like to have a crisp bright green arugula salad on the plate. Perfect for color and texture and working in more greens. Add a cranberry vinaigrette and scatter some pomegranate seeds and sweet potato croutons.)
- Grain free stuffing
- Butternut squash soup with sage grain free croutons (vegan and dairy free). Squash makes a lovely creamy soup with any broth or liquid of your choice and doesn’t require any dairy to make it velvety smooth.)
- A lovely pie from the equally lovely friend Sarah Ballantyne (ThePaleoMom.com)
- In a large soup pot, heat some olive oil on medium high heat.
- Add chopped carrots, onions, and celery and sea salt. Cook until the onions are softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add a couple cloves of garlic, chopped, and cook for a minute more, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the water and miso to the pot. Blend.
- Add in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until all vegetables are all fork tender.
- Remove bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.