These days, many families don't regularly gather for family meals. This can make it hard to pull off a
successful Thanksgiving dinner period, let alone one that includes lots of low carb choices! Often the
kids aren't accustomed to the rhythms of a family meal: waiting for others to be served before beginning
to eat, using proper table manners, participating in discussions, patiently waiting for others to finish
eating before leaving the table. Adults also may be unused to some of the basic requirements of a family
meal: cooking foods that everyone will enjoy, having realistic expectations about everyone's behavior,
coping with the mound of dishes after the meal is over. And it's a sure bet that many of your guests
will not be acclimated to low carb fare.
Get Everyone Involved
Preparing a big holiday dinner can be an overwhelming task, particularly if a day of cooking yields a meal that lasts less than an hour. One solution is to make cooking the dinner a family project.
The whole family can be in the kitchen together, one person setting the table, someone else peeling the vegetables, another making a salad, and everyone can help clean up afterwards!
Turn Off The TV
Many American families eat dinner in front of the television set. Sometimes people can be ill at ease talking to others. Television takes away the obligation to find something to say. For families that resort to TV instead of conversation, the holiday meal offers an opportunity to break this pattern and focus on family instead. This might be a good time to resolve that the television will always be off during dinner. Your VCR, TiVo, or RePlay TV can always record any game or program that family members feel they just can't miss.
Avoid Food Fights
It's great to introduce your friends and family to low carb food choices, but holiday dinners are not a good time to force the issue. The dinner will be more pleasant if you have the foods everyone can enjoy... centered on a low carb star like the traditional turkey. Then serve breads and starches for those that wish them, and veggies and sugarfree dishes for those who are low carb.
A holiday dinner is not a great time to give your children a lesson in Manners 101. If you're concerned about how your children are likely to behave at the table, start talking about dinner manners well in advance of the holiday.
You can avoid overwhelming your children by working on one basic etiquette rule at a time. One week the goal might be chewing food with their mouths closed. When they've mastered that, you can begin teaching them to say "Please pass the..." instead of just reaching for a desired item. Try to avoid lecturing and scolding. Instead, set a good example and gently remind your children to follow it.
If cooking a full holiday meal causes you too much stress, take some shortcuts. Call a local caterer and order portions of the meal... perhaps the turkey itself. Maybe some great sides (ask about ingredients so you can determine carb counts.) Or have them supply the high carb fare you'll be offering so you don't have to buy ingredients you no longer keep on hand (like white flour and sugar!) Then you can concentrate on your low carb specialties! They may end up being the most popular dishes served!
There's no reason all the preparation needs to be done the morning of the holiday. You can prepare some of the side dishes a couple of days in advance and refrigerate them so they're ready to reheat and serve. Clean-up doesn't have to be a huge job, either. If you are expecting an especially large group at your holiday dinner, consider using holiday-themed paper plates and paper napkins rather than china plates and cloth napkins.
Can't We All Just Get Along?
Meals — holiday or otherwise — are not the time for discipline, lectures, arguments, criticism or sulking. Talk should be pleasant and everyone should feel welcome to chime in. If you think your in-laws are going to say something annoying the minute they sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, prepare a response ahead of time, rather than becoming upset when it happens. It's pretty common over meals for low carbers to have their dietary choices questioned and their health worried over. Plan to be positive no matter what.
From all of us at Low Carb Luxury, have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.
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