I’m deeply grateful throughout the year.
When my kids were young, I loved the holidays. It wasn’t about the day itself, faith, or even traditions. For me, it was about the preparation and execution of decorations, cooking, and eating that let me look at their smiling faces across the table with true gratitude and joy.
I wasn’t included in holiday celebrations as a child but I’d seen them on television and read about them in books. When I had children of my own, I was determined to reenact those picturesque visions for them and I think I succeeded.
How to Have a Healthy (and Happy) Thanksgiving
This time of year, many people celebrate with friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. People you haven’t seen in a while, experiences unique to the holiday season, and an over-abundance of food you might not normally eat.
It’s important to have a plan before you get to work in your kitchen, arrive at the home of someone with a table piled with an assortment of dishes that tempt the pallet (and the belly), or step into “unavoidable” interactions with people you might not even like.
There’s a lot of input during the holidays and you can maneuver it in style. Set a few limits so you don’t end your day in mental, emotional, or physical pain from the festivities.
Healthy Thanksgiving Tip #1
Don’t beat yourself up. Even the most careful eater tends to overdo it during November and December. It seems that everywhere you turn you’re faced with alcohol, desserts, and random goodies you can mostly avoid January through October.
Chances are you’re going to overeat on Thanksgiving if you celebrate it. It won’t matter if you’re working to lose weight, a vegetarian, lactose intolerant, or generally picky. You’re going to have so many choices and something is bound to appeal. Try to balance the sweets and carb heavy selections, drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids throughout, and enjoy your day without guilt. You can get back on track tomorrow.
Healthy Thanksgiving Tip #2
Plan ahead with medications and necessities. If you’re diabetic or have other health issues that require you to monitor your food consumption, make sure you bring everything with you. Glucose testing kit, pain prescriptions, and even anti-diarrheal tablets will help you calmly (and discreetly) keep yourself on track to enjoy your day. Anti-depressants and other behavioral meds are a must. If you have small children, stock up on diapers, wipes, and changes of clothes in addition to their meal planning. I never used to leave my house without an emergency kit in the back of my car that contained bottled water, basic first aid supplies, blankets, and changes of clothes for every family member. However, I realize now that it was unusual.
Remember that many stores (especially in smaller towns) are closed up tight on Thanksgiving so get everything you need a couple of days before festivities begin. Preparing a “go bag” a few days in advance that you can grab on your way out the door will give you peace of mind.
Healthy Thanksgiving Tip #3
Beware of excess alcohol (or drug) intake. Every year, holidays see more traffic accidents and domestic disturbances than other days because people gather together, drink to excess, and lose control of impulses that are typically under tight control.
Drunkenness doesn’t mix with get-togethers that include innocent bystanders (especially children and the very elderly) who don’t have a dog in the fight and unable to get themselves to safety. A celebration is just as enjoyable sober and you’ll wake up the next morning without intense regret, sitting in jail, or at a hospital. Waking up the next morning is the most important thing.
Healthy Thanksgiving Tip #4
Keep your dirty laundry to yourself. A gathering during the holiday season may include family of all ages, friends of friends, co-workers, and people you’ve never met. It is absolutely not the appropriate time or place to vent your personal squabbles or resolve familial disputes.
I’m a firm believer in removing toxicity from my life and this includes blood relations or old friends who aren’t good for you. Words such as “tradition,” “forgiveness,” and “family” make you feel forced to endure situations because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do. Incorrect.
If being around specific people makes you feel horrible, then you have no obligation to be around them. If you force yourself and end up in a confrontation, that’s going to make everything so much worse. If you can’t let something in the past go (or know another person won’t) then have a smaller celebration and enjoy your peace.
Healthy Thanksgiving Tip #5
Keep your thankfulness after midnight. It has always fascinated me to watch scenes play out on Thanksgiving only to see fighting resume until Christmas. No sooner is the food packed up, dishes done, and house set to rights than people are squabbling over stupid crap.
They haul themselves all over the next day buying up massive amounts of gifts. Many even put themselves into debt that will haunt them for months (if not years) to purchase goods most of us don’t need and fewer still expect you to buy.
Stop for a moment and think.
Before you race to the next holiday, consider the word Thanksgiving. Giving thanks for what you have, who you are, and the joys that exist in your life. The people, the experiences, and the love…that is what I’m most thankful for every single day of the year.
Enjoy the day and much love,
Shayne McClendon is an author and positivity practitioner. Shayne believes love crosses all boundaries, social castes, races, genders, and belief systems. If you are lucky enough to find soul-deep love, you should fight for it. Life-certified, reader approved.