Getting Healthy for Good: The Day of Diet Doom

By Laurie Marshall

Next week. You know it’s coming.

The Day of Shame for those of us who are trying to cut calories, count points, avoid carbs, etc… We skip meals the day before in order to be ready for the consumption of mass quantities of food. We scour websites and cookbooks looking for a recipe that will knock our in-laws’ socks off. We make sure our “comfy jeans” are clean and ready to wear.

And I’m not going to discourage you from partaking in this unholy day of diet transgression. I’m not even going to suggest that you will need to ask for forgiveness. Nope, the altar of the Thanksgiving Meal has long been a stumbling block, and has certainly taken down better mamas than you and I. Who are we to pretend that we are strong enough to resist??

So if you can’t get around it… if there is just no skipping the dessert… what can you do to at least put a LITTLE dent in the guilt you might be plagued with as you’re suiting up for the early Black Friday sales? Here are a few simple suggestions. I hope they help you love yourself as you pull on those leggings and tunics. Thank goodness they’re trendy, right??!!

  • Skip the cream in the mashed potatoes. Use vegetable broth for a huge calorie savings… 15 calories per cup of broth vs. 315 for half-n-half and 149 in plain yogurt. 2% milk isn’t terrible, with 122 calories per  cup, so if you just have to have a creamy texture or if your family threatens to boycot, you can use half milk and half veggie broth. The broth will add a great taste to the potatoes too.
  • Use a smaller plate. It seems silly, but the brain works in mysterious ways. The visual of a full-to-overflowing plate will be pleasing to us even if the plate is a salad-sized one rather than platter-sized.
  • Eat slowly. Enjoy the conversation of your loved ones, take your time, and drink a low-calorie beverage while you eat to help fill you up. The slower you eat, the less likely you’ll be to be ready for a plate refill before your brain has a chance to process that you’re full.
  • Put out a crudites tray. If you’re doing most of the cooking it might be way too easy to taste your way into a larger pant-size, so help yourself (and your guests) out by putting out some healthy snacks before you get busy. Fresh veggies and fruit with low-cal dips are great to munch on instead of the beaters of the mixer or spatula covered with mashed potatoes.
  • Send leftovers home with your guests. Buy some plastic containers to have on hand to pack up and send home with your in-laws, kids or random solicitor. It will help you keep from caving and eating an entire second meal two hours later. It also keeps you from having clean out the fridge to make room. Fridge-cleaning is always a chore I like to avoid.
  • Make your meal heavy on the veggies. Turkey is good for you, especially in reasonably-sized portions, and you already know how to make your potatoes slightly less homicidal, so what about the rest of the meal? Choose low-calorie and low-sodium options when you have to use a cream soup (I’m looking at you, green bean casserole!!), and treat your other veggies gently. Rather than a heavy glaze and marshmallows on those sweet potatoes, drizzle them with a crumble of agave nectar, brown sugar, crushed pecans, and orange zest. Cook your corn with a tablespoon of olive oil instead of half-a-stick of butter. And remember, a fresh salad is never a bad idea.

No matter how your meal turns out next week, the most important thing to remember is balance. If you know you’re going to eat more than usual, scale back on the sugary drinks and take a brisk walk in the evening to help you burn some of those calories off. And if you just lose your mind altogether and eat three helpings of everything and an entire pecan pie… forgive yourself and start over on Friday. We won’t tell.

Look for Laurie’s fitness tips and updates on her personal health-focused journey every other Friday on nwaMotherlode in Mom Blogs. Send questions or input to her at Or click on the comment button below and share your thoughts right now! To see previous installments of Getting Healthy for Good, click HERE.