Thanksgiving and the Kick Off to the Holiday Season

This week is Thanksgiving and you know what that means … lots of delicious food and time with family and friends. I love the holidays and the next month is filled with fun activities, birthdays and celebrations. Thanksgiving is a great time to kick off this festive time of year and enjoy some amazing food along the way.

I have posted in previous years about tips and tricks to help make healthier choices this holiday season. Last year’s post was focused around an article that I read in the New York Post about Thanksgiving favorites. The year before that I read a handout from MyPlate and put together some Healthier Holiday Options blog post. It did a similar topic in 2015 as well and enjoyed providing some recommendations on how to stay on track on Thanksgiving. So if any of those topics sound interesting check out those previous posts!

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Lots of years I feel like the mantra around the holidays and trying to be healthy is negative. Lots of time I feel like we hear what to avoid and what not to do. I don’t love that message. I think that we should focus on what Thanksgiving is about - being grateful for what we have and getting to celebrate those blessings with our loved ones.

A Grateful Look at Eating Healthy this Thanksgiving

  • So much food! This is often what people find the most overwhelming and as the main stumbling block starting here in November with Thanksgiving …. there is so much food that we love to eat. I say we celebrate that fact. We have lots of food. That is such a blessing. Lots of people all over the world and even in our country struggle with food insecurity. They don’t know where their next meal will come from. On this day, we sit down to a huge table, filled with food and we celebrate having plenty. This tradition has been passed down from the pilgrims. This one day we take what we have and we share it and we enjoy it. I think we focus on the fact that we enjoy this day and all that comes with it. This isn’t to say that you stuck yourself to bursting, but enjoy your holiday favorites. If you really enjoy pumpkin pie or homemade mash potatoes, then get a serving of those favorite foods and savor every, single bite. The other amazing part to Thanksgiving is the left overs. This is another opportunity to share the bounty that we all have with others. If you know of a family or individual who would benefit from a home cooked meal, take some of those left overs to them. That is a great way to get to show others some love and demonstrate the mantra of the holiday.

  • Mandatory family time. Some times the pressure to see family and friends or the disappointment of missing that opportunity is stressful for people. Instead of focusing on how much of an inconvenience it is to see family or travel to a different city, take this chance to appreciate the fact that you have loved ones who want to see you and spend time with you. There are lots of people who don’t have those special people in their lives and having this expectation to see family and friends should be celebrated and looked at as a positive thing. Yes, it means giving up something, traveling and taking time away from what you might want to do, but it is means so much to see those people who you love and care for.

  • Chance to give back. I love working to give back during the holidays and it all starts with Thanksgiving. There are so many different ways to volunteer at a food pantry, serve a Thanksgiving meal, participate in a run/walk event where the proceeds goes to a food pantry or homeless shelter. There are countless ways to share some of the blessings you have with others. I think we sometimes question if there is still good people wanting to help one another in the world and I think the answer if yes. Take this Thanksgiving as an opportunity to show others how you care and want to help and support your community. We have so much and being able to share a small piece or part of that with others is a great experience. One of the traditions that my family has done for the last 5 years is participating in the Broad Ripple Drumstick Dash. My parents and I have been going and we love being able to exercise in the morning and then encourage our feast later in the day. We have enjoyed being able to involve our other family members (my husband, our son, my cousin and other friends). This is a great way to exercise, be active and then support a local food pantry.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and the start to the holiday season. Try not to stress about all the food, but embrace the day and enjoy, in moderation these amazing foods. Find some ways to give back to your community and show love to your neighbor. Being thankful for all the the blessings of the season.

Healthy Thanksgiving Favorites

It is the time of year ... Thanksgiving is THIS week. Can you believe it?! I know I kept having to look at the calendar twice because I couldn't believe that we are already starting the holiday season. 

I came across the article and I thought it was hilarious in the New York Post. I felt like I could relate to this, because I always feel like people think I am just slap their favorite foods out of their hand. That is not the case. I love delicious food and I don't want to be known as a "health freak who is ruining Thanksgiving."  I totally agree with having tempeh instead of turkey if you are doing it because of dietary restrictions (vegetarian or vegan), but if you are doing it because you think there is something magical about tempeh compared with turkey then unfortunately that is not quite true. I love tempeh, but I also enjoy turkey and on this Thanksgiving I am planning on cooking a turkey and serving that at our luncheon. 

Image used from the New York Post Living Article.

Image used from the New York Post Living Article.

Lean protein source - Turkey is a healthy, lean meat. The white, breast meat is particularly lean and has less fat compared with the darker, more fatty meat. But overall turkey is a lean bird and is a healthy protein source. The turkey itself is a great protein item, where the additional calories come from is often what we put on top of the slice of meat. The additional gravy or cranberry sauce is where the additional calories are hiding. Now that doesn't mean you need to eat your turkey without a tasty topping, but work to make sure that you topping it with a moderate serving of gravy. 

Colorful veggies - Thanksgiving just like any other meal where you should be aiming to fill 1/2 your plate with lots of colorful vegetables. There are lots of traditional Thanksgiving foods that can be healthy - sweet potatoes, pumpkins, green beans, and collard greens. One of the easiest way to prepare all of these veggies is to throw them in the oven or in a pan and roast them. Add some salt, pepper and if you want a special kick add some cumin. If you prefer raw veggies, put together a colorful salad and then serve that alongside your turkey and sweet potato casserole. 

Mix in Whole Grains - We all love our bread at our Thanksgiving feast. From the stuffing, to the rolls, to the chicken with noodles. There are lots of sources of grains at Thanksgiving. Why not try to substitute some of those with whole grains. Make whole grain muffins/rolls or add in some whole wheat bread to the stuffing recipe. This is helpful for diabetics and to help with fiber intake. 

Sweet Treats - I really enjoy all of the delicious pies for Thanksgiving. I think that in moderation these can be a great way to celebrate the holiday. I love cutting pies into 12 pieces compared with 8 pieces, because you can enjoy a smaller slice of pie and still enjoy the flavor. Or if you want to sample multiple types of pie, try a 1/12th of a pie and this will equate to 1/8th of a pie if you end up with 2 pieces. There are also ways to make your pie healthier, but more often than not, I find that moderation of your serving size is the most realistic way to stick with following a healthy lifestyle.

Move your feet - There are lots of Thanksgiving Day races available. That is such a fun way to fit in a work out and then enjoy a delicious meal. There are so many races in every town around the country. If you are worried about burning calories and the holidays that is a great way to get more steps in on Thanksgiving.