Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

6 Ways to Give Thanks this Thanksgiving

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

Thanksgiving is about expressing gratitude for the blessings we have in life. Gratitude puts everything in a fresh perspective and allows us to see and appreciate all of the things we grateful for.

The more you practice giving thanks, the better you’ll be at it over time. Like anything else, you can turn being grateful into a habit and a way of living. The fall and holiday seasons are an especially good time to practice being thankful.

Here are 6 ways you can get creative and give thanks this holiday season:

Invite others to your dinner
Many people are alone on Thanksgiving. If you know a neighbor, friend or someone at work will be by themselves during the holiday, welcome them to join your dinner. Your guests will appreciate the invitation and your gathering will be happier with a sense of fellowship and togetherness.

Share Thanksgiving memories
You can remember Thanksgiving’s past and ask family members to tell fond stories about Thanksgiving memories. You can invite your guests to join in and share their warmest Thanksgiving memories and family stories.

Create a thankful atmosphere
Decorating your home with lovely crafts can create a thankful and comfortable space for family and guests. You can incorporate organic materials, such as greenery, pine cones, stones, leaves or acorns, to create a festive atmosphere. Put out a platter of fruits, veggies, cheeses and nuts to embellish your table. You can even use scrapbook paper and have guests create Thanksgiving card placeholders, sharing the things that they are grateful for.

Do a good deed or volunteer
While Thanksgiving is considered a time for enjoying family and friends, it’s also an opportunity to share your blessings with others. You can do a good deed or volunteer to express your gratitude. Visit a hospital or nursing home. Put together gifts or treats to share with the patients. These small gifts can mean a lot to someone who may not have family to enjoy the holiday with them. You can also donate to a church or charitable organization to help provide for others at Thanksgiving.

Write handwritten notes to friends
When was the last time you received a real letter from a friend or family member? Or the last time you wrote one? You may have family and friends you’re unable to visit during the holidays. A handwritten note sent by mail is a precious way to show your appreciation and love.

Appreciate the little things
A kind word, heartfelt hug or peck on the cheek can express your gratefulness better than expensive gifts. Give compliments to your family and friends on Thanksgiving day. Hugs and kisses are a delight to the young and old alike.

Thanksgiving is a great time to share kindness, thankfulness and appreciation. Get your family involved in doing something good on this day. Teach the younger generous to be gracious and giving. Express your gratitude and say “thank you” to everyone you know!

14 Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating

healthy-greens-1369011-mLast year, before Thanksgiving and the start of all the holiday festivities, we posted about the best and worst foods for fall and winter.

I was thinking about all the yummy foods that will be piled high on the table for Thanksgiving dinner, and I decided it might be good to add in a few healthy super foods to my eating habits this holiday season.

Here are 14 of the healthiest foods that you should be eating but probably aren’t (especially during the decadent holidays):

Lean Protein
Lean sources of protein can help speed up your metabolism and encourage your body to burn more fat. Some good examples include turkey, chicken breast, pork and leaner cuts of beef. You get muscle-building protein without the extra saturated fat.

Tomato Sauce
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin and stomach cancers. Tomatoes also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Red tomatoes are the best, and processed tomatoes are just as good as fresh.

Yogurt gives you calcium and protein along with millions of bacteria that are beneficial for your body. These bacteria help boost your immune system and provide protection against cancer. Not all yogurts are probiotic, so check the label for “live and active cultures.”

Carrots are filled with carotenoids, which are fat-soluble compounds that reduce the risk of a wide range of cancers and combat the severity of inflammatory conditions like asthma and arthritis. They are easy to prepare and can be added to pastas and salads or enjoyed as a snack while on the go.

Cruciferous Veggies
Fruits and veggies should be a large part of your diet – you should strive to make them half your plate. Cruciferous vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber as well as essential nutrients. Great options include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and bok choy.

Black Beans
All beans are good for your heart, but black beans can boost your brain power. They are full of anthocyanins, an antioxidant compound that gives you better brain function.

Berries are a potent source of antioxidants that fight free radicals, slow down aging and reduce your risk of cancer. Berries are a healthy, refreshing snack that can satisfy a sweet craving. They also go great with your morning cereal, in smoothies and on yogurt.

Bananas are an easy, on-the-go treat. Pack in your gym back as a quick snack, or cut it up on your cereal or oatmeal. Foods high in potassium – like bananas – can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

This colorful fruit is full of antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. You can even get the benefits by drinking a glass of pomegranate juice.

High-Fiber Cereal
Fiber is essential to maintaining a healthy body and can help in losing weight. It fills you up and keeps your digestive systems working properly. Whole-grain cereals digest slowly and keep your blood sugar at a steady level. Cereals also give you B vitamins, antioxidants, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium.

Oats are packed with soluble fiber that helps reduce heart disease. While they are loaded with carbs, like cereal, they are released slowly to keep you full and satisfied.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, calcium and potassium. Other great dark orange vegetables include pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash and orange bell peppers.

Eggs have gotten a bad rap in the past, but they are nutritious, economical and a great way to fill up on good protein. Studies have shown if you eat eggs for breakfast, you eat fewer calories through the day. Eggs also contain 12 vitamins and minerals that are good for your brain and memory.

Nuts are full of protein, heart healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants. A handful of nuts can help lower cholesterol and promote weight loss. You can mix it up with pistachios, walnuts, almonds, peanuts and pecans. Enjoy them as a snack or add them to salads, side dishes, cereals or yogurt.

So, if you’re feeling a little guilty after Thanksgiving dinner or holiday parties, add a few of these healthy foods to your regular diet. Put some diversity and color on your plate!

Is holiday weight gain a myth?

holiday weight gainYou may have heard the statistic that the average American gains 5 to 10 pounds over the holiday season. The truth is that we actually gain closer to 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to an often-cited article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

While this is great news, there is still cause for some concern. The problem is that we are more likely to keep that 1 extra pound of weight, which means we are slowly adding weight over the years.

It is also much harder to stick to our healthy eating and exercise routines during the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years. I know I find myself eating more and exercising less. I am busy shopping for gifts, planning parties, preparing for guests, cooking, cleaning – the list goes on. Then, I am stressed by the to-do list and possibly even losing out on much-needed sleep.

If we only indulged on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, we would probably avoid any weight gain. However, there are many parties and events to attend with more fattening foods. We eat on the go while shopping and running errands. Our exercise routines are pushed to the back-burner to get everything else done.

Here are some tips to help you avoid weight gain during the holidays:

Plan to maintain your current weight
The holiday season is probably not the best time to try to lose weight. It is a reasonable goal to simply plan to maintain your current weight. You can still indulge in small amounts of your favorite goodies at holiday events and parties. Then, keep to your usual eating habits during the rest of the season.

Make it a point to exercise
It is definitely more difficult to stick to your exercise routine with back-to-back holiday parties and family gatherings. So, start a new holiday tradition. Encourage friends and family to take a group walk after dinner. You can admire the fall leaves at Thanksgiving, or make a game of judging the neighbors’ light displays at Christmas. For the more adventurous, you can challenge the kids to a game of tag or hide-n-go-seek. They will be thrilled, and you will all make wonderful holiday memories.

Think about your feelings
For many of us, the holidays can be emotionally trying and can stir up old memories. You may have had unpleasant holiday experiences in the past. Or, you may be missing loved ones who are no longer with you. If you recognize that your feelings and emotions could lead you to overeat, you can be prepared to change this habit. You can start a tradition of everyone telling a happy or funny story from past holidays. You can also take a moment to remember loved ones.

Eat more slowly
By eating more slowly, you can enjoy the company and conversation of those around, and you are more likely to notice that feeling you get when you’re full. In addition, if everyone else is done eating, you are less likely to have the urge to go get more food.

Grab a smaller plate
It may seem silly, but if you use a smaller plate you are less likely to eat too much. First, you will have less room to load up your plate. And, if you go back for seconds, you typically don’t fill your plate as full as the first time. So, in the long run, you will end up eating less.

Just say no
You can say no to the food pushers. My mom is the culprit at our house. It makes her happy to see everyone eat. I know she has spent countless hours in the kitchen preparing the food. So, when she says, “Here, try this,” or “Have some more, there’s plenty of food left,” I feel obligated to eat it. You can say no. Just say you are too full to eat any more right now, but you will try it later. Or, offer to take some food home.

You can maintain your weight during the holidays and enjoy the great food. You will also feel good when you stick to your healthy eating habits. Do you have any tips for staying on track during the holiday season? We would love to hear from you!

For more information about balancing healthy eating, exercise, stress, sleep and good habits – even during the holidays, check out the book A Completely Balanced Life.