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Prepare for Thanksgiving with These Five Healthy Habits

It’s the season of Thanksgiving – a time set aside each year to come together and share a meal with loved ones. Originally a festival of the season’s harvest, Thanksgiving is now observed around the nation as a celebration of one’s unique cultural and family food traditions. A Thanksgiving table may feature collard greens and sweet potato casserole from the southern regions of America, egusi and fufu from Africa, macaroni pie and plantain from the Caribbean, Fattoush salad from the Middle East, steamed dumplings from Asia, and everything in between!

Though food is the focus (and fun) of Thanksgiving, this holiday may also come with many social interactions, emotional triggers, schedule changes, and other challenges that can affect your overall wellbeing. Equipped with these five healthy habits, you can be prepared for whatever comes your way, leaving more room for the gifts of joy and gratitude this season.

Honor Your Hunger

An abundant Thanksgiving spread is a wonderful opportunity to experience all the textures, flavors, and aromas that our favorite foods have to offer. Nevertheless, many find negative feelings around food or body image crop up during holiday meals. Pressure from family members or friends can influence food choices and managing portion sizes can become difficult due to the volume and variety of food at the Thanksgiving table.

Honor your hunger and support your nutrition with the following tips:

  • Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains which contain fiber and healthy fats for hunger control.

  • Stay hydrated and manage hunger by drinking still, sparkling, or fruit-infused water throughout the day.

  • Manage your portion sizes by eating on a small plate, eating several smaller portions throughout the day, and/or using an airtight container to store leftovers when you get full.

  • Be present, noting the flavors, textures, scents, and temperature of each food.

  • Respect your hunger cues to know when you are truly hungry and eat a meal or snack when you feel hungry.

Don’t Overbook Yourself

For many, thanksgiving not only marks the beginning of the holiday season, it’s also the start of a packed schedule. End of year work projects, family demands, cooking, shopping, and travel can leave you feeling worn down and burnt out. During the holidays it’s more important than ever to maintain a balanced schedule, including time for rest and relaxation. Check out these tips:

  • Ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

  • Don’t squeeze more into your schedule than you can handle.

  • Block out “me time” for rest and self-care activities that are meaningful to you.

  • If it’s within your means, outsource tasks through delivery, catering, cleaning, or other services.

Establish Clear Boundaries

The holiday season can come with a great deal of pressure from your family, friends, partner, or boss. Without establishing clear boundaries, it may be harder to maintain the goals and schedule you’ve set for yourself. You may also find yourself interacting with individuals for the first time or with those you don’t see on a regular basis.

Remember, it’s never too late to make your boundaries clear, to set new boundaries, or to change previously set boundaries. They can be related to your food choices, your schedule, your appearance, your values, or whatever is meaningful to you.

Move Your Body

The holidays can often throw off your fitness habits. With changes in schedules, travel, guests, and other holiday disruptions, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy and consistent workout regimen. What can you do? Change up the way you move your body!

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should do at least 150 – 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 - 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week for substantial health benefits. For additional health benefits, strength-training exercises involving all muscle groups should be included a minimum of twice per week. There are a wide variety of cardio and strength training exercises out there that you can incorporate into your holiday schedule. Can’t make your usual fitness class? Take a virtual or prerecorded class at home. Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator. Go for a jog in the park, walk your dog, or dance it out in your kitchen. Studies show that any increase in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity may show health benefits for sedentary adults and reduce the risk of mortality.

Embrace Healthy Social Interaction

Did you know that science supports a strong connection between social interaction and our overall health? Human beings are physiologically and psychologically wired to connect with research showing that social connection can help people maintain healthy weight, control blood sugars, improve cancer survival, decrease cardiovascular mortality, decrease depressive symptoms, mitigate post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and improve overall mental health. Now that’s something to be thankful for! Alternatively, social isolation is reported to be akin to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, to be more harmful than not exercising, and to be twice as harmful as obesity. Thanksgiving comes with the gift of social interaction in more ways than sharing a meal around the Thanksgiving table. Here’s a few more ways to embrace healthy social interaction during Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season:

  • Have a Thanksgiving-Eve prep party to take care of tedious tasks like peeling and chopping produce or preparing marinades.

  • Schedule errands like grocery shopping and cooking with friends and family.

  • Use video and phone calls to connect with loved ones you can’t see in person.

  • Plan a puppy play date with your neighbors and walk your dogs together after your Thanksgiving meal.

  • Play an outdoor game for some friendly competition and fun exercise.

Book a call with our holistic women’s health dietitian for personalized guidance for your unique needs, health goals, and stage of your lifecycle (adolescence, young adulthood, older adulthood, and motherhood). As a bonus, you’ll also interact with our comprehensive healthcare team for additional support.



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