Help yourself to a heaping serving of living well for Thanksgiving! The menu includes movement with a side of quality food topped off with gratitude.
Sit less. Physical activity is important for overall fitness, but so is limiting the amount of time sitting. Kids and adults tend to spend a lot of time in front of various screens—television, computers, video games, tablets, smartphones, etc. The American Diabetes Association reports that too much screen time is associated with higher blood sugar levels, while physical activity is linked to lower A1Cs and healthier hearts. ADA’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes recommend breaking up time sitting by walking, leg extensions, or overhead arm stretches every 30 minutes. So, if you are planning to watch a parade or football game on Thanksgiving, make sure you intersperse your sedentary screen time with movement.
Main Course: Quality Food Choices
Remember, you are not required to overeat on Thanksgiving. Consider enjoying one well-proportioned, quality, delicious meal each day all week long versus overindulging in one meal on Thanksgiving. Eat your desired plate at Thanksgiving and save second and third servings as meals of tasty leftovers for later in the week.
When it comes to turkey—dark meat may not have such a dark side. Turkey white meat is often preferred over dark meat because it has less cholesterol and fewer calories and grams of fat than dark meat. However, the extra fat in dark meat is actually the good-for-you kind of fats: mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Dark meat also boasts more iron, zinc, and selenium than white meat. Additionally, the European Journal of Nutrition published a study that a nutrient called taurine, found abundantly in poultry dark meat, may significantly lower the risk of coronary heart disease in women with high cholesterol.
Serve a selection of quality plant-based proteins alongside the turkey. Plant-based choices include beans such as black, kidney, and pinto, or hummus and falafel, or lentils such as brown, green, or yellow.
Fill up most of your plate with vegetables.
Avoid heavy creams, sauces, crusts, gravies, fried choices, and casseroles.
Skip the rolls or bread.
And remember: Drinks can pack a punch in the calorie department. Try to limit the number of drinks and cheers to unsweetened tea or water flavored with fruit slices, cucumber, or mint.
Shift your focus from gourds and gorging to gratitude.
Experiencing gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation tends to foster positive feelings, which in turn, contribute to one’s overall sense of wellbeing. Therefore, gratitude appears to be one component, among many components, that contributes to an individual’s wellbeing.
Try the following strategies to explore if they enhance feelings of gratitude for you:
- Journal about things for which you are grateful.
- Write a thank-you note or letter to someone for whom you are grateful.
- Meditate or practice present moment awareness on moments or people who bring you joy.
- If you are religious, pray about gratitude.
1 Dana Angelo White, “Food Fight!: Turkey White Meat vs. Dark Meat,” Food Network.
2 NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine, “Nutrient found in dark meat of poultry, some seafood, may have cardiovascular benefits,” ScienceDaily, March 1, 2012.
3 Randy Sansone and Lori Sansone, “Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation,” Psychiatry, November 2010.