Have a healthy, happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's soon time for Thanksgiving - 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.

*Reduce your stress.

Hosting the Thanksgiving dinner, 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?

*Manage your expectations.

The quest for perfection is guaranteed to end in frustration and disillusionment, because little and perhaps nothing will measure up.

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

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, 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.

*Pumpkin pie?

Pumpkins are another winter squash. It is traditional across America to serve pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner. But make or buy a homemade pie with fresh (not canned) ingredients.

*Get some exercise.

How about a walk or bike ride 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.

*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.

Now, go have one healthy and happy Thanksgiving!