As we approach Turkey Day tomorrow, I get a ton of variations of the following question – “What should I eat for Thanksgiving dinner?”

My answer is really simple, but it is because I am not just looking at that one meal, instead it is important to look at the whole picture.

The reason people “fall off” their nutrition is not because they eat one bad meal.  Our bodies do not respond in real time to the food we eat.  If you don’t believe me, then go eat a kale salad and let me know if your body suddenly gets skinnier.  Our body works on much larger scale – weeks and even months.  This means Thanksgiving dinner is not going to mess you up.  However, if you go out drinking Wednesday night, have a midnight meal from whatever place is open then skip breakfast and eat a huge Thanksgiving feast.  Then on Friday, you say screw it and eat the leftover desserts for breakfast and then go out to lunch with your friends.  Now you are at the weekend and haven’t eat well so you just keep it going cause you’ll start back up on Monday right?

This sounds extreme but you’ll be surprised at how real this chain of events is for most people.  We don’t ruin our progress because of one meal or eating late at night or any of those little things.  It happens because 1 meal becomes 3 then it becomes a week, then a month.

My advice for Thanksgiving is simple.  Wake up and eat your normal healthy breakfast.  If Thanksgiving is late for you, then eat a good lunch too.  Once you get to Thanksgiving, eat whatever the hell you want.  Eat the turkey, pie, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and anything else you want.  Just don’t eat the canned cranberry crap cause your taste buds deserve better.  Eat whatever desserts you want while you’re at it.  Enjoy your meal and then when you wake up on Friday, get right back to your normal eating schedule.  That’s it – no need to restrict yourself at Thanksgiving dinner and no need to have 1 meal turn into a week.  If you do this, I promise you will not hurt your progress at all.

One other Thanksgiving day trick.  If your Thanksgiving dinner is earlier, bring a tupperware and ask if you can take some of the leftovers – your family will be happy to give away some of the food.  Put together a meal of the turkey, green beans (not the casserole), and a carb (mashed potatoes, a roll, sweet potatoes).  Have this be your dinner meal – its going to be healthy stuff and you aren’t going to cook at night anyway.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner and then get back to business.