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Thanksgiving is a time to stop and reflect on all of the people, experiences and things life has given us that we can be thankful for. Gratitude is good for your health. Holiday foods we don’t regularly eat can quickly become a health risk, though.
For a person with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or food intolerances, Thanksgiving dinner can be dangerous and a cause for anxiety. It’s not just because of the desserts, either. Many traditional holiday dishes are high in carbohydrates and fat, and full of added processed sugars. In the United States diabetes is one of the leading causes of death. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause many additional health problems. Thanksgiving often becomes an excuse to ignore diets for the day. For those of us with health conditions and intolerances, ignoring the rules, even just for one meal, can result in a multitude of health risks and potentially end the day in a great deal of physical pain. It is possible to still enjoy your holiday meals this year. Moderation and modification will be your friend, along with discussing the menu in advance. Don’t allow insecurities about your needs, or fear of being a burden to silence you. Most, if not all, of us should be more conscious of what we eat even if we don’t have specific restrictions. Voicing your concerns might encourage others to opt for healthier alternatives to traditional recipes.
- Choose carbs that are less processed and nutrient dense, and focus on smaller portions
- Sweet potatoes are actually sweet on their own. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle spices, and bake them for a fragrant and flavorful dish
- Substitute whole grain bread or homemade cornbread in traditional stuffing recipes for fiber and other vitamins, without sacrificing texture or flavor
- Plant milks can offer a lower fat alternative for creamy sauces and gravies
- Sugar-free jello and whip cream
- Pumpkin pie can become mini pies for smaller portions. Crustless pies and parfait cups are great options for those who are gluten intolerant
- Boil potatoes and use an electric mixer to mash with salt, olive oil and plant or low-fat milk for simple, fluffy mashed potatoes with just a few ingredients
- Include more vegetable options
- Limit alcoholic-drinks and stick to those with less sugar and/or carbs
- Kindly but firmly say “no” to well-meaning loved-ones who might encourage you to treat yourself
If healthier options aren’t available, keep track of your carb and calorie intake. Try to fill half of your plate with vegetables. Take small portions of high-carb foods. Plan for dessert, even if that means skipping the potatoes to leave room for a small serving of pie. And if all else fails, pack your own extras to supplement the meal. Avoiding something you’ve always loved eating is a small price to pay for maintaining a healthy body and avoiding illness. Don’t forget that quality time in your relationships is special no matter what you are able to eat or drink. Be well this Thanksgiving!
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.