Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year when friends and family come together to enjoy great food and good company. However, the holidays can also be a difficult time of the year for active adults 55 and older who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to make your Thanksgiving festivities healthier.
Eat a healthy breakfast.
Although you may be tempted skip breakfast on Thanksgiving Day, it’s actually important that you eat a nourishing meal the morning of your big turkey dinner. Adults who eat a healthy, balanced breakfast on Thanksgiving can avoid overindulging when it is time for dinner.
Make healthy substitutions.
You can add a lot of nutrients to a classic Thanksgiving recipe by experimenting with healthier ingredients. Make all these changes or just some of them – every little bit counts!
- Cut back on sugar. You can usually reduce sugar in baking recipes without affecting the recipe’s flavor.
- Reduce salt. Choose broths and dressings that are lower in sodium. Add flavor to dishes using sage, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove to reduce the need for salt in your favorite dishes.
- Skip the cream. When preparing the mashed potatoes and other heavy sides, use Greek yogurt or low-fat milk in place of cream.
- Halve the butter. Many classic Thanksgiving recipes are loaded with butter. Cut the butter in half and you’ll barely taste the difference.
- Add a boost of nutrition. You can make your Thanksgiving meal healthier and more flavorful by adding nutrient-dense recipes to your menu. For instance, serve a hearty harvest salad, loaded with butternut squash, apples, dried cranberries and almonds in addition to traditional sides.
Go for a walk.
Increase your steps or lengthen your workouts in the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, gather the family for a post-dinner walk as great way to help food digest while bonding with your loved ones. Alternatively, take a walk by yourself before the festivities begin to reflect on what you’re thankful for.
Slow down and savor.
When preparing your Thanksgiving plate, select reasonable-sized portions of food, and resist the urge to go back for second helpings. You are less likely to overeat when you limit yourself to one plate—plus you will have more room for dessert! Lastly, eat slowly to give your brain time to signal from your stomach that it’s full. When you take time to eat your food, it also gives you the opportunity to appreciate the meal before you.
Reduce holiday stress.
Finally, recognize that the holidays can be overwhelming. Whether you’re in charge of preparing Thanksgiving dinner or you are feeling lonely as the holidays approach, ask for help from family and friends when you need it. Simplify what you can, including the Thanksgiving menu or how many houses you will visit on Thanksgiving Day. Practice good self-care in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Get quality sleep every night, fuel your body with nutritious foods and surround yourself with loved ones who care about you.
Thanksgiving is an admittedly challenging holiday when it comes to committing to healthy life choices. Fortunately, by planning in advance, you can take steps to minimize the negative effects of the Thanksgiving holiday.