Mind, body and beltline: Healthy tips for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you’re like a lot of people, you’re either preparing to travel to see distant friends and family or host an extravagant Thanksgiving meal. Unfortunately, while the holidays can be a time of cheer, they can be a bustling, stressful time—one that can significantly affect our health.


Our health and wellness experts have gathered a cornucopia of tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy—and ready to enjoy the holidays. This seasonal offering of wellness tips focuses on the three areas commonly negatively affected by the arrival of the holidays—our mental health, physical wellbeing and weight gain. 


Keep reading to learn more, and make sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter by using the form at the bottom of this page. 


Mental Health Decline During Thanksgiving

The holidays are commonly lauded as a time of peace, joy and togetherness; however, statistics show a startling contrast. According to a 2018 survey by the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people said their stress level increases during the holidays. No doubt, this percentage has only increased with the arrival of COVID-19 and worsening economic outlook in the U.S. 


With increased demands and stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. The best advice is to prevent anxiety and depression in the first place, especially if you’ve been affected by heightened stress during previous a Thanksgiving. Here are a few strategies that may work for you. 


  • Avoid Isolation – Withdrawing from social commitments can be a common kneejerk reaction to stress. This is especially easy to do for those who live alone or feel that they might be bothering family or Thanksgiving hosts with their presence. Make plans to spend the holiday with someone you care about or volunteer with a community organization. ‘


  • Stick To A Budget – Money issues can be the biggest source of stress during the holiday season. Before purchasing supplies for your Thanksgiving feast or travel arrangements, take a look at your finances and create a budget. Shop sales, arrange a potluck-style meal and stick to your budget. 


  • Think Smart, think ahead – Acknowledge that Thanksgiving can be a stressor for you and make smart decisions. Avoid committing to more than your schedule allows and carefully map out plans ahead of time. If hosting company for a meal, map out days for gathering supplies, baking items ahead of time, and prep a majority of your dishes at least a day earlier. Need help planning your meal? Read these tips from the Washington Post


Stop Chronic Pain From Ruining Festivities

We’ve talked about mental health, but what about the holiday’s impact on our physical wellbeing. This can be an especially important question for those suffering from chronic pain. According to doctors, stress and disrupted routines brought about by Thanksgiving can significantly worsen chronic pain. With that in mind, it’s best to prepare accordingly. Following these tips and keeping up with healthy habits may help prevent a pain flare-up when celebrating with family and friends.  


  • Routine, Routines – If you’re lucky, the day off work or time in a new space for Thanksgiving is a welcome change; however, it is crucial to maintain healthy routines that support your wellbeing. Drink plenty of water, go to bed and wake at regular times, eat at regular intervals. Keeping healthy habits can eliminate factors that lead to the onset of pain. 


  • Don’t Sit, Keep Moving – It can be tempting to plop down and binge football on Thanksgiving Day, but this stationary activity can cause muscles to stiffen and joints to ache. Like we mentioned before, keep moving throughout the day according to your regular activity levels. Your body will thank you. 


  • Avoid Travel Mishaps – After an abnormally light 2020 holiday travel season, many individuals are hitting the airports and roads to visit family this Thanksgiving. For those with travel plans who often deal with pain, it should come as no surprise that this can lead to flare-ups. Sitting for long periods in cramped seating or even sleeping on a new mattress can crumple backs, hips and other sensitive areas of the body. Again, preparation is critical; know your limits, stand and stretch often, and plan ahead by bringing a travel pillow or cushion to support vulnerable areas. 


Weight Watching During The Holidays

This is a story as old as the holiday itself—Thanksgiving only comes around once a year, so why not splurge?


According to the New England Journal of Medicine, adults typically put just under one pound during the holiday season. The downside—most keep this added weight on well after the season concludes. While it is important to not stress over one meal or a few extra calories, Thanksgiving does not have to sabotage your waistline. With a bit of restraint and these tips, you can feast without fear this holiday season. 


  • Eat Breakfast – For those who typically eat breakfast, it’s essential not to skip the meal on Thanksgiving Day. According to experts, eating a light, healthy breakfast can keep you from binging later in the day. 


  • Avoid Alcohol – Often used in excess during holiday gatherings, alcohol can be both a source and instigator for higher-calorie meals. While a glass or two may not pose much risk, binge drinking in large quantities floods the human body with sugars and empty calories while also lowering inhibitions causing individuals to eat more. 


  • Portion Control – Everything in moderation is a gold standard for many nutrition experts. Avoiding a second helping and not piling more on your plate than you can eat are both great ways to limit over-eating. One tip is to eat from a smaller plate than usual. This can help you feel fuller quicker, making you feel satisfied after a meal without unnecessary calories. 


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