Food Health

Healthy & Happy Thanksgiving Tips!


I just got back from the battlefield of markets on Thanksgiving week. It wasn’t pretty, but I survived. I only got hit twice by someone’s elbow and reckless carts, and only one person ran off with my cart, and the cashier wasn’t having an anxiety attack. I’m good. Here are some tips to stay healthy, happy, and sane during this Thanksgiving, so you won’t ruin your health, gain weight, or pull out your hair.


I am a vegetarian and avoid eating meat for health, environment, and animal compassion, and nobody in my family likes turkey, so we choose our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes, along with pumpkin pie (this year, it’s pumpkin flan with caramel) and chocolate cake, and we are happy and healthy group of people.
Meat also has a significantly higher carbon footprint than other protein choices. So we do our part and have a peace of mind with a vegetarian Thanksgiving.


Here are some simple tips to stay healthy and happy this Thanksgiving:


Doesn’t Have To Be All Or Nothing
It doesn’t have to all meat, all vegan, all vegetarian, etc. Have other options such as seafood, fish, vegetarian, vegan and gluten free entrees. You’ll offer a mix that will please everybody and try new things yourself. It will be healthier, affordable, lower in calories, earth friendly, and delicious, and you’ll avoid feeling bloated, lethargic, and immersed in food coma for days, not to mention health consequences. I have no doubt, you’ll enjoy it more than you’d thought and you won’t walk away with loads of fat, pain, and regret.


Don’t have to Stick to Tradition
Every family/friends are different. So, pick and choose what you like to eat instead of forcing yourself to eat something you don’t like because of tradition. After all, it’s about celebration and enjoying ourselves.
We ask family member/guests what their favorite foods are and we accommodate as much as possible.
We’ve also done potlucks and people bring their favorite foods, which is always so much fun and yummy, and we get to eat food we’d never thought of. Some are traditional Thanksgiving dishes, but often it includes ethnic or non-Thanksgiving foods. We’ve had spring rolls, pad Thai, pizza, and cauliflower gratin and more in past Thanksgivings. It’s about what you and your loved ones love to eat; not what you’re supposed to eat.


Have a Menu & List
Before you go shopping, have a list and only pursue those items at the store. Having a list will help you get in and out fast. The last thing you want to do is go down every aisle; fighting everyone else, looking, searching, and getting agitated. Also, park away from the crowd and walk. Don’t need to waste time and energy circling for the 10 spaces by the store’s door with everybody else. You’ll avoid the parking lot mess and get some exercise.


Load Up on Veggies First
Start your meal with veggie dishes, soups, salad, etc, before meat, stuffing, and the breads. A plate full of veggies is good for your health, waistline, and our planet. And you won’t miss out eating yummy fall foods like squash, pumpkin, turnips, pomegranates, pears, persimmons, etc.
The vegetables will fill you up and give your body the nutrients it needs to fight all the bad stuff on the way. Hopefully, there won’t be too much.


Don’t Over Salt or Sugar Your Food.
Be stingy with salt (preferably kosher or sea salt and not table salt) and compliment with spices such as cayenne, cumin, pepper, hot sauce, etc. Instead of using white sugar, use natural sweeteners such as onions and beets, agave, maple syrup, and coconut sugar.


Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the meal.


Have Fruits Before and/or with Your Dessert:
Have some fruits, such as berries, oranges, kiwis, apples before or with your dessert. Fruits are a tasty and nutritious compliment to any desserts, and it has natural juices to keep you hydrated, and you’ll avoid the extra calories you don’t ever need just from sugary desserts.


Drink Tea After a Meal
Organic teas such as green tea, oolong, or jasmine teas help settle the food in the stomach, cut the grease, and relax and soothe your body.


Take a Walk After the Meal
Once your meal is over; take a walk with your family, friends, and dogs. It will help with digestion, circulation, and keep your heart healthy, not to mention burn a few calories, and it’s fun.


When You’re Alone
A few times in my life, I found myself alone on Thanksgiving. Instead of moping around the house feeling sorry for myself, I went to volunteer at a homeless and an animal shelter, and it did wonders for my self-esteem and got rid of self-pity.  Whether it is by choice or not, do what you have to do, but volunteer somewhere for a few hours and you’ll discover that you’re never really alone and there are others who are more alone, and you have the ability to ease their pain and your own.


Be Grateful
While having dessert, we go around and share what each of us are grateful for on Thanksgiving. Hearing what others are appreciative reminds us that we have more than we may realize to be thankful for.
Honestly, this year, like last is a stretch for me to be grateful. I lost almost everything during the pandemic, including the most important being in my life. In less than a year, I lost 3 of my best friends, unrelated to the pandemic. So, it was tough. But I also know that being bitter works against me and those that care about me, still. So be grateful in some way. It’ doesn’t have to be grand, just a small corner of your existence. Whether it’s just one thing or a dozen, gratitude will always  give you the mental strength you need to survive life, keep your heart open, and the hope and courage to keep living, no matter what. I know my best friend would have wanted it that way.


Breathe Always
Don’t forget to breathe before, during, and after. You’ll survive and enjoy yourself!


Whatever you do, please be mindful and kind and have a wonderful and enjoyable Thanksgiving!