Thanksgiving is a time for being grateful for the things we have. Above all things, I have to say that I’m incredibly grateful for my family – not just my relatives, but also true friends who treat me as if I were their own. The other thing that I am very grateful for is my health, and this year on Thanksgiving I will be enjoying the fruits of the earth while keeping my health a true priority.
There are many ways to keep your Thanksgiving healthy this year, whether you’re a raw foodist, vegan, vegetarian, Weston A. Price enthusiast, gluten-free/grain-free eater or just a regular guy/girl. Here are some tips I hope you find useful for this holiday, or any day.
Not only do these tips for enjoying a healthy Thanksgiving include ways to avoid the over consumption of calories (3,000 to 4,000 calories for one Thanksgiving meal is “average”!), but they can also help you lower the glycemic index of your meal if you do indeed decide to indulge in not-so-good for you items. I have also included tips on how to stay mentally and emotionally healthy during the holiday, as emotions can also play a huge part in your physical health.
I still advise to make the meal from scratch, if possible, using ingredients like almond flour, coconut flour and stevia or xylitol with the baked items. Not only do these items add flavor, they save reduce the amount of free-radical damage brought on by their high-carb counterparts (think white flour and white sugar).
Be grateful for your food – Gratitude can help you become present during the meal, which can lead to being present in your feelings of hunger and fullness. By saying a little prayer or silent thought before your meal, you can decrease your chances of eating more than you really want or need by turning your attention away from everything else and toward the moment.
Start with a salad, even if it is a small one – Starting off with a salad before a meal can help with satiation if you have a genuine worry about consuming too much high calorie foods. Not only will a salad get digestive juices flowing, it will also provide essential dietary fiber that can help slow down the breakdown of high carbohydrate foods often consumed during Thanksgiving. If attempting to avoid indulging in too many calories this Thanksgiving holiday, just skip the dressing or enjoy with a couple of teaspoons of raw olive oil.
Try chia gel before dessert – Chia seed gel is full of fiber and protein, and almost acts as a barrier between some dietary carbohydrates from being absorbed too quickly. This can mean that there will be less of a rush of blood sugar after consuming that pumpkin pie, resulting in a slower release of insulin. This in turn can result in less overall inflammation and a decreased incidence in harmful fat storage.
Add cinnamon to your pumpkin pie – Sugar is a main culprit in aging, inflammation, etc., but if you must consume it, try this simple trick. Unless you are using xylitol, coconut palm sugar or stevia as the sweetening options – which I suggest – add around 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to your desserts. Cinnamon has been shown to regulate healthy blood sugar levels, something that is essential for keeping inflammation down.
Be involved in the cooking process – By helping the cook, or by being the cook, you become more grateful for the food that is served on Thanksgiving day. As mentioned above, gratitude can help you eat less by placing your mind in the present moment, rather than on what you need to do tomorrow, or what you didn’t get finished last week. Gratitude and thankfulness also helps release positive emotions which can increase the immune system and decrease pain.
Meditate – When we’re around family members, organizing the holiday meal and juggling the household, stress can become a major issue. Not only does stress make you look tired and run down, it also decreases producitivity, decreases the function of the immune system and also can increase the chances of gaining weight. Some health experts theorize that calories are absorbed much more effeciently when the body is stressed, leading to excessive energy storage via adipose tissue.
Don’t forget about exercise – Even walking counts. Try not to skimp out on exercise during the holidays, even if you have to wake up just a little bit earlier to do it. I will be doing yoga and walking mainly than anything else, combined with standing up for a large amount of time working in the kitchen. That’s a workout in itself!
Check out these healthy Thanksgiving recipes for your big day –
Have a great Thanksgiving,
The Healthy Advocate