For a Healthier Thanksgiving: Shift Your Focus

For a Healthier Thanksgiving: Shift Your Focus

Putting the “Thanks” and “Giving” Back in Your Holiday

The Thanksgiving holiday is a special day that only comes around once a year.  Because the holiday celebrates a bountiful harvest, it highlights an elaborate feast.  More food is consumed in the US on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year.

Most Americans consume 3000 to 5000 calories during the Thanksgiving meal.  On average, they gain one to five pounds during the holiday season.  Unfortunately, that added weight tends to stick around. 

Fortunately, Thanksgiving done right doesn’t have to sabotage your health and wellness.  Feeling stuffed, hung over, lethargic and guilt-ridden is not inevitable.  We have lots of tips for enjoying yourself without all the negative consequences.

Step One:  Enjoy Your Family and Friends and Be Present

If you shift your focus back to giving thanks, you can make the most of your Thanksgiving holiday.  Engage in conversation with your family and friends.  Be present.  Show gratitude for all the amazing people in your life.

Even if you spend Thanksgiving alone there is much to be thankful for. Be sure to count your blessings, including being safe, healthy and having everything you need.

Put the “giving” back in the holiday by volunteering and giving back to the community.  Providing the less fortunate with meals adds tremendous value to your life.

Step Two:  Savor the Delicious and Nutritious Foods

Thanksgiving is a great time to appreciate all the different foods available to us in the US.  A traditional Thanksgiving meal is loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and antioxidants.

Turkey is rich in protein, low in fat and calories and it boosts your mood.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are nutrient dense.  They contain vitamin C, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium and fiber.  These nutrients are good for bone strength.  Sweet potatoes also have beta carotene, important for immunity, vision and healthy skin.

Cranberries contain lots of antioxidants to help ward off disease.

Pecans have heart-healthy fats, copper, thiamine, zinc, magnesium, fiber and antioxidants.

Pumpkin contains vitamin A, potassium and fiber.

Step Three:  Enjoy a Healthier and Happier Thanksgiving Day

Starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast is a good idea.  This will allow you to control your appetite. Oatmeal, yogurt or eggs with fruits and veggies will keep hunger at bay.  Saving up calories for the big meal tends to backfire.  It’s hard to be disciplined when you’re famished.  People also tend to overestimate how many calories they have saved.

Create a new activity-based tradition. You will improve your digestion, and feel less tired if you go for a walk after eating.  Brisk walking improves your blood sugar levels, aids digestion and burns calories.  What about playing football with your family and friends rather than watching it on TV?  Participating in a Turkey Trot is another great option.

Drink lots of water and little or no juice, soda or alcohol, throughout the day.

Work out a little more  the week before and after the holiday to offset indulgences and stay on track.  This is not a punishment but a reward for being strong and able.

Lighten up your dishes.  You can swap the butter and cream in mashed potatoes for low sodium broth or skim milk.  Make a healthier stuffing using whole grain bread, fruits and veggies. Leave the skins on potatoes and sweet potatoes for added fiber which helps stabilize blood sugar.

Be realistic.  Avoiding all temptation can dampen the day.  Feeling deprived does not pay off in the long run.

Choose your indulgences.  Rather than focusing on trying every dish.  Start with your must-have favorites and stop when you are full.

Fill up on the healthier fare. Three ounces of skinless white turkey meat and a serving of roasted sweet potatoes are two great choices.

Control your portions.  You don’t need a huge quantity of each food to fully enjoy the moment.  Using a smaller plate and filling half of it with veggies helps.  So does skipping seconds and thirds.

Eat mindfully.  Don’t rush through your meal but take the time to savor every mouthful.  Put your fork down between bites.  Give your body time to cue you that it’s full.

The Takeaway

Thanksgiving Day is the perfect day to focus on gratitude.  Your health, family, friends and an abundant meal are just some of the blessings to be thankful for. Traditional Thanksgiving foods are loaded with nutrients we are lucky to have access to. With a little interaction, activity and forethought, you can indulge healthfully and end your day with a full heart.                                                                                                                                           Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Golden Home Fitness!

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Globalnews.ca;  medicalwesthospital.org; myfitnesspal.com; swimmingworldmagazine.com;  intermountainhealthcare.org

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