“Indulgence vs. gluttony does not = deprivation” – the Jewels theory.

Navigating the holidays without gaining weight is difficult, but doable when you know how to make healthy eating choices. Contrary to popular belief, Thanksgiving does not mean you have to stuff your face full of absurd amounts of fat, sugar, and complex carbs until you’re gorged so full you can’t move. However, it also

Tatjana’s first Thanksgiving (from the weekly diary of her first year).

doesn’t have to mean complete abstinence. You can have a little  (little being the operative word), splurge in celebration, and still avoid gaining weight or boosting your cholesterol to the danger point. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Tatjana Rhodes enjoying a healthy Thanksgiving dinner

1). Thou shalt not skip meals. When you’re ravenously hungry all reason goes out the window, especially when you think you’ve saved up enough calories to go overboard to boot!

2). Thou shall remember Thanksgiving dinner is the meal it is all about. That doesn’t mean all meals throughout the weekend should be an indulge fest. Eat sensibly.

3). Thou shalt not graze between meals. It is frightening how fast those calories can add up when you mindlessly nibble. I know, it’s so easy to do, especially with the enticing aromas wafting from the kitchen all day long, but don’t. Those goodies are never as good as the main event, and you’ll enjoy your meal all the more.

Strolling the Plaza with my sister and my favorite niece and nephew

4). Thou shalt not be a couch potato. Get up and move, take long walks, keep your metabolism in peak form to be digesting that larger than usual meal.

5). Thou shalt stay hydrated. Avoid drinking sugary drinks, and limit your alcohol intake. Drink plenty of water – 6-8 cups a day, or more if you are drinking heavily or exercising intensely.

Healthier options

6). Thou shall bring forth healthy foods in abundance. Seek out healthier options for the holiday classics. Use a little less butter and cream, substituting them with healthier fats. Minimize salt and sugar where possible. Make sure there is a colorful array of vegetables on your table to make up the bulk of what ends up on your plate.

7). You are an adult, so eat like one, or you shall be banished to the kids table forever. Sometimes we’re tempted to let our inner child rule, and skip the healthy stuff, in favor of childhood favorites. Remember you’re setting the example for your own children. The younger they learn good eating habits, the healthier they’ll be.

8). Thou shalt think smaller! We overfill our plates at holiday time, especially when it is a buffet we help ourselves to. Know what a correct portion size looks like, and stick to it. If anything takes less, and if you really must, come back for seconds.

Thankful for my family gathering (Tatjana was in school in London at the time)

9). Thou shalt savor thine food. Slow down, and really taste each bite. When you eat slowly, you are less likely to overeat, and you will enjoy every morsel that much more. It takes about 20 minutes after eating before our brains (and tummies) register as full, so take a break before going back for seconds, and ask yourself “am I really still hungry or just eating because it is there?”

10).Thou shall not deprive oneself. Choose one heavenly indulgent treat (in its correct serving size), and make sure your other choices are healthier ones. Skip piling the mountain high stuffing and the brown sugar-laden sweet potato casserole on your plate, if you want a piece of that pecan pie, or if you really must have one bite-size taste of each – to get them out of your system – and have a smaller piece of the pie. Or, skip the pie for the sweet potatoes and have a piece of fruit for dessert. Remember, it is really much more about realistic, healthy choices and portion control, than deprivation.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

I always have a hard time deciding between the pumpkin pie and pecan pie, so I came up with this pumpkin pie ice cream recipe to go with my pecan pie. The best of both worlds. A small scoop will still afford me the tasting pleasure, and I take an extra long walk to balance the additional calories.



1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 cup whole milk
1 cups heavy cream
1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs


1). Using an electric mixer, mix pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and bourbon until well blended, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2).In a small heavy saucepan bring milk, heavy cream, and sugar to a boil, stir occasionally.

3). Whisk eggs in a small bowl. Temper by adding 1/3 of the hot milk mixture in a slow stream whilst whisking constantly. Transfer mixture back into the same saucepan, and set over low heat, stirring and scraping down the sides of the pan with a small heatproof spatula until thickened. Do not boil. Cook until the custard coats the back of the spoon. Pour custard into a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl to strain out any bits.

4). Stir in pumpkin mixture.

5. Chill custard, then freeze in an ice cream maker for 30-45 minutes. Transfer soft ice cream to an airtight container and keep in the freezer to firm up.


Serve on its own, with a slice of pecan pie, or use it to make a pumpkin ice cream pie with gram cracker crust.

This post was first published November 24, 2011.

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  • November 22, 2011
    9:55 am

    Fantastic rules to live by – especially at holiday time. Love the healthier options as well. The photo of the pear and walnut salad especially is absolutely stunning. The colour alone is satisfying. Looking at all four dishes, choices like THAT would be far better both for your tastebuds and health than the usual fare. The table would look stunning! Your photo of the pumpkin pie ice cream too… featuring a twist on an old favourite portioned in perfect servings and beautifully presented. It all encourages savouring, talking and true celebrating. Gorgeous photos as always. Tatjana is an beautiful girl and looks like such a tremendous soul! Also love the family dinner photo (even though Tatjana isn’t there) … everyone looks so happy and fantastic company. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

    • November 23, 2011
      9:12 am

      You know, I didn’t even twig that until you said it, but if you do mini individual pies instead of big ones, people are more likely to eat the correct serving size! Good one Rachel!

  • November 22, 2011
    3:04 pm

    Those are some fantastic tips Jewels!! This year we are all substituting certain ingredients in our dishes, in an effort to support my mom, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes. One of her favorite dishes is sweet potato casserole; so I will be using Splenda brand brown sugar. Someone else is making a no sugar added pumpkin pie. She will still have to limit her consumption of these dishes because they still have a certain amount of carbs in them. Your tips in this blog post will come in handy! Thank you and may you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


    • November 23, 2011
      9:15 am

      One of my favorites is the sweet potato casserole too – sounds like your already compensating for that, but I would recommend much smaller servings than she is probably used to of the complex carbs – unfortunately it’s laden with calories as well as carbs, and neither are great for managing the disease.

  • November 23, 2011
    5:02 am

    Thank you so much for the tips, Julie Anne. I will do my best to put them into practice tomorrow.

    In a day and age where child obesity is rampant, these helpful reminders will help me set an excellent example of healthy eating for my children.

    Have a wonderful, happy Thanksgiving!

  • November 22, 2011
    9:21 pm

    Hi Julie,
    I’m Dean’s mother and have always loved his portrait of you.
    Also love your column.

    • November 23, 2011
      9:16 am

      Hi Vally – lovely to hear from you, and thanks for the reminder that I need to call Dean! Hugs, Jewels xo

      PS. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

  • November 22, 2011
    9:40 pm

    Have a wonderful thanksgiving julie anne. 🙂 i’m having a turkey on thanksgiving. very cool right?

    • November 23, 2011
      9:19 am

      I am too Laura. I’m not doing the big production until Christmas when my entire family will be here, but I made some of the turkey tenders Dijon (premium members recipe) a couple weeks ago, and plan to defrost that for my dinner. Also testing a recipe for Spicy Cheddar Cornmeal Muffins – if it passes my liking, I’ll share with clients, and get the final verdict for next Thanksgiving.

  • November 23, 2011
    9:20 am

    You too, and your four gorgeous children and hunk of a husband!

  • November 25, 2011
    7:26 pm

    Your eating tips are so realistic! I have one more to add. When you are eating, use a salad plate as the plate for your main meal. It makes you feel like you are taking full sized portions when you are actually downsizing, but your brain really doesn’t click in to the fact. I do this even though I don’t really need to lose more weight, but it makes me eat a certain amount of fool when I’d probably just taste a bit and call it a meal. Bravo for making sensible eating rules that are easy to implement!