5 Ways to Make Thanksgiving the Healthiest Day of the Year
In its truest, purest form, Thanksgiving should be one of the healthiest days of the year. Research has proven that “counting your blessings” has powerful health and longevity benefits. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” can make you less likely to suffer the ill effects of stress such as weakened immunity, depression and other health problems.
Unfortunately, the overabundance that many of us are fortunate enough to have in this country can sometimes make Thanksgiving (and the whole holiday season) a time of overindulgence and stress. Whether due to the pressures of planning and preparing a holiday meal, long hours of travel, trying to put aside familial strife for the sake of holiday togetherness, or the kickoff of the frantic holiday shopping season looming, it can sometimes be hard to maintain an attitude of gratitude!
Those who adhere to a particular or uncoventional diet for health reasons or due to food sensitivities may face the additional stress of navigating a traditional holiday feast with grace and ease. But with a little planning and mindfulness, Thanksgiving can be a happy, healthy holiday for all!
Here are 5 tips for ensuring that your Thanksgiving celebration is joyful and health-enhancing:
1. Enjoy your friends and family.
While Thanksgiving certainly is a holiday about eating, food is just part of the celebration. It’s a time to acknowledge all that we have to be thankful for, and to appreciate the people we care about. Studies have shown that social connections are essential for health and longevity. So do your best to put your petty quarrels aside, relax and set the stage for a joy-filled, low-stress holiday season.
2. Supercharge your Thanksgiving menu.
If you’re hosting, be sure to include plenty of nutrient-dense superfoods in your meal. If you will be a guest, ask if you can bring a healthy dish or two to share. Need recipe ideas? Slow Food USA has put together an amazing guide to having a slow food Thanksgiving. Also check out our suggestions for a nutritionally supercharged “anti-aging” Thanksgiving feast.
3. Practice mindful eating.
Simply make an effort to eat slowly, consciously and with gratitude, and remember that one of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers! Systematic undereating — that is, eating only until you are satisfied on a regular basis — is a proven longevity strategy. By moderating your food intake throughout the day, you will avoid putting stress on your digestive system, and will likely also find that you have more energy.
4. Stay hydrated.
This is crucial for good digestion and can help you avoid overeating. Be sure to drink plenty of pure water and try to limit your alcohol consumption. Wine is your best bet, but don’t go overboard. Research has shown that for women, 1-2 drinks is the range that may provide the most health benefits without posing health risks; for men, 2-3 drinks.
5. If you overindulge, don’t fret!
You’ll do yourself more harm by allowing yourself to wallow in regret or other negative emotions! Take some digestive enzymes to help ensure efficient and complete digestion. And practice gratitude for the abundance of good food and good company you enjoyed!
Do you have any tips or tricks for making the most out of Thanksgiving? Please leave a comment below!
Article updated on: November 19th, 2012