Enjoying Thanksgiving Doesn't Have to Mean Derailing Your Healthy Lifestyle

By Jeffrey Field
November 16, 2017

Enjoying Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean derailing your healthy lifestyleThanksgiving is a season for family and food – and it's also a time you can let your healthy eating and fitness habits slip.

But enjoying a holiday meal doesn't have to mean packing on pounds. Smart choices can help you make the most of the occasion without regretting it later – and it doesn't mean you have to miss out on some of the traditional foods you enjoy.

Dr. Leigh Wagner, formerly of Integrative Medicine at The University of Kansas Health System, said it's all about mindset and moderation.

"The mindset is the most important thing," she says.

Wagner urges people to give themselves permission to do whatever is best for them during holiday gatherings, even if it means saying no to certain dishes or second helpings. She says people don't need to feel like they can only express their love through eating.

Rather than trying to re-create a traditional recipe with healthier ingredients, such as serving mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes, Wagner believes people should go ahead and enjoy the regular versions, but eat more slowly and mindfully. Mindful eating means focusing on the experience of eating the food and how it affects us.

If you want to ensure the Thanksgiving table has some healthy options, offer to bring a dish that fits the bill, like a salad, greens or a sweet potato dish without a lot of marshmallows and brown sugar. It may also be a good idea to have a conversation to see if other family members have any special dietary needs or wishes.

We have an archive of healthy recipes, including mashed root vegetables and chard, walnut and cranberry-studded greens and a gluten-free stuffing. Find these and more in our recipe archive.

Wagner points out the importance of staying hydrated. Having sparkling water or tea available might also help you resist the temptation to snack before or after the big meal.

She suggests going for a family stroll if other relatives enjoy walking and the weather permits. Many gyms are also open at least part of the day on Thanksgiving, so people can get their bodies moving.

The University of Kansas Health System Integrative Medicine can help guide you toward a healthy lifestyle. Call 913-588-6208 to make an appointment with a member of our team.

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