Thanksgiving holidays a time for joy

Friday, November 27, 2009

We're in the midst of the Thanksgiving holidays - a time when families and friends get together to enjoy a bountiful feast. Holidays can be wonderful, but they can bring added stress and excesses.

Here are some tips to help you have a healthy Thanksgiving:

*Reduce Your Stress.

Hosting the Thanksgiving dinner, traveling, visiting with family and friends, and having house guests can lead to upsets if you have unrealistic expectations of yourself or others. Go with the flow and keep things in perspective. So what if a cup gets spilled, the dog barfs, the cousins gossip, or the pie crust is burned. Sure it may not be perfect, but in the big scheme of things does it really matter?

*Not every meal has to be elaborate and the house doesn't have to be show home spotless.

And everyone can pitch in with the clean-up. After a holiday feast, it's great if all the grown kids in the family head for the kitchen and do the clean-up while visiting and catching up, creating fond memories of such special times. Whether you are hosting guests and making the feast, or you are traveling to be with others, make sure you plan time for yourself to relax.

*A Thanksgiving dinner can be heart healthy!

Turkey, the traditional mainstay of the harvest feast, is a concentrated source of protein, a good source of Vitamin B6 and niacin. And, it's recognized as a heart healthy food by many experts. Turkey is also a concentrated source of sleep-promoting tryptophan, which is why a nap after Thanksgiving dinner is often so appealing. Winter squashes (Butternut, Acorn, Hubbard, Turban, Kabocha, and Spaghetti squash), also standard fare on the Thanksgiving table, are a concentrated source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega 3 essential fatty acid that is very good for heart health. It's also an excellent source of Vitamin A. Steam your squash and add flavor with fresh rosemary, honey and nutmeg, toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or sage and thyme.

*Pumpkin pie?

Pumpkins are another winter squash. It is traditional across America to serve pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner. Probably the best way of eating pumpkin is not in a pie but then again, Thanksgiving only comes around once a year! But make or buy a homemade pie with fresh (not canned) ingredients. And go lightly on the whipped cream!

*Get Some Exercise.

How about a walk while the turkey roasts? What better time to get outside than in autumn when the leaves are colorful, the air is crisp, and when you return home, the house will welcome you with rich aromas!

Exercise is known to reduce stress levels, increase your energy, and improve sleep and digestion. After a plentiful Thanksgiving dinner it will help burn off any additional calories you've consumed. Get the whole gang out for a 30 minute walk. Make it part of your Thanksgiving ritual.

*Count your blessings.

Strong positive emotions induce physical and emotional responses that are thought by many to have significant health benefits. At your Thanksgiving dinner, take the opportunity to go around the table and have each person share what they are thankful for.

*Have a hug, give a hug.

Hugs are good for your heart. Human contact through hugs lowers blood pressure and reduces stress, which cuts the risk of heart disease. During Thanksgiving holidays, hug your friends, your family, and your guests. Not only will it feel good, but it's healthy for everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving!