Most people look forward to Thanksgiving, and since it comes around once a year, why not literally make the most of it by stuffing yourself with all that delicious food, right? Wrong. Thanksgiving and the days after are some of the busiest days in the emergency room. Since the holiday is highly associated with overeating, many people wind up in the hospital because of elevated blood pressure, heart attacks, gout and heart failure exacerbations, high blood sugar, and more. Here are some tips for having a healthy Thanksgiving while still being able to enjoy this most celebrated American holiday:
- Cooking- Many recipes add extra sugar and fat that are unnecessary. Try using less sugar or low sodium options. Consider using fat free yogurt, sour cream, or even sugar substitutes. Olive and canola oils can be used as a substitute for butter. If you are a guest at a Thanksgiving dinner, offer to bring a healthy dish. There are so many healthy Thanksgiving recipes online. For example, the Mayo Clinic posted a recipe book of healthy Thanksgiving dishes that are delicious and won’t break your diet.
- Meal Time-Try to stick to your regular meal times. Many people may skip breakfast to “save room for turkey”, but eating beforehand may help, control your appetite and curtail overeating. If your Thanksgiving meal is later on in the day, have a small snack. This is especially important if you are on diabetic medications so that you can make sure your blood sugar doesn’t get dangerously low.
- Choosing the Right Foods– Start with vegetables or a salad that can help to curb your appetite. Next, pick a few of your favorite Thanksgiving foods that you most look forward to eating. If you choose to have dessert, consider limiting your other carbs which can include potatoes, bread, stuffing, candied yams, etc. Lastly, drink plenty of water with your meal and throughout the day and pass on the soda or other sugary beverages.
- Portion Control- You may not always have a lot of control over what is served, but you do have control over how much you eat. Try making a small plate of food. Choose to make a plate with extra vegetables then for the rest of your meal, have a small portion of your choice of protein, and a small portion of carbohydrates. Focus on truly enjoying your food and eat slowly; This will give your brain time to recognize that you are full and allow you to savor all the flavors of the holidays. For dessert, choose a smaller dessert such as mini muffins, a small cookie, or slice of pie. Lastly, pass on getting seconds. It can be very tempting, but you will be happy you did the day after Thanksgiving.
- Avoid Alcohol- Drinking alcohol can lower your blood sugar so it’s best to avoid. If you have alcohol, drink it with your meal.
- Diabetes Tips– If you are diabetic, we recommend checking your blood sugar more often on Thanksgiving day. Also, if you are planning on eating a larger meal than normal, calorie counting and increasing your insulin dose at mealtime can help prevent your blood sugar from spiking.
- Stay Active– Keeping a regular exercise routine during the holidays is the best way to stay healthy and keep off the extra pounds. There are also special Thanksgiving day events, that can be done indoors with the family (Ideas Here) . Involve your family in your exercise routine. It ‘s a great way to bond and encourage one another.
- Try Again- If you slip up and eat more than intended, start again the next day. Having a healthy lifestyle is about choosing the best options each day.
- Remember the meaning behind Thanksgiving– Although a lot of emphasis is put on food, Thanksgiving is not about the meals. It is a time to give thanks for family and friends and cherish those you love. So if you are struggling to eat healthy this Thanksgiving, try to refocus on your loved ones and be thankful for all you have.
From all of us at PharmD Live, we wish you a safe and healthy Thanksgiving!
- Medicalwesthospital.org. 2020. 9 Tips For A Healthy Thanksgiving. [online] Available at: <https://www.medicalwesthospital.org/9-tips-for-a-healthy-thanksgiving.php> [Accessed 13 November 2020].
- Mayo Clinic. 2020. Thanksgiving Recipes: Delicious And Healthy Options. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/thanksgiving-recipes/art-20048258> [Accessed 13 November 2020].
- HealthyWomen. 2020. Registered Dietitians Offer Tips For A Healthier Thanksgiving. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/registered-dietitians-offer-tips-healthier-thanksgiving> [Accessed 13 November 2020].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. 5 Healthy Eating Tips For The Holidays. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/holidays-healthy-eating.html> [Accessed 13 November 2020].