Staying Healthy and Happy for Thanksgiving

By Rebecca Jones

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving; a day dedicated to feasting and vegging in front of the TV watching football but it is also a day to take stock of all the things we are grateful for including the family that will probably spend the day driving us crazy. The holidays can easily turn into a time of blown diets and raised blood pressure but that doesn’t have to be the case. Here are a few ways to keep your sanity and your waist line this holiday season.

 Holiday Travel
Today is the busiest travel day of the year and many of us are taking to the skies and the highways to spend Thanksgiving with our loved ones. Between the traffic, the crowds and the potential health risks travelling this time of year can be extremely stressful so here are a few things to keep in mind. Most airports are full of fast food restaurants and snack bars making eating healthy on the go difficult at best; to avoid the temptation to fill up on burgers and fries before a long flight stop by the nearest gate-side newsstand, many of these stands stock healthy options like whole fruit and yogurt. Other good options include trail mix, granola or protein bars and string cheese. Remember to pick up a bottle of water as well to keep you hydrated on that long flight.

To avoid germs on the plane keep a bottle of hand sanitizer available, not only can you use it to clean your hands but it can also be used to wipe down bathroom faucets and door handles and seat-back trays.

During cold and flu season air travel can make you more vulnerable to getting sick. Once seated be sure to turn on the air over your seat and avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth during the flight. Drinking lots of water and getting a good night’s sleep before your flight will also help boost your immune system and keep you healthy until you reach your destination.

The Thanksgiving Feast
The traditional Thanksgiving dinner can pack up to 4500 calories and 229 grams of fat but you can enjoy your turkey and potatoes without blowing your diet with a little advanced planning and some sensible decisions. Make sure to serve lots of vegetable dishes with your meal (as opposed to cheese and cream laden casseroles). If someone else is preparing dinner offer to bring a few healthier side dishes like salad. Drink water or have an apple before dinner, the less hungry you are when you sit down at the table the less likely you are to overindulge. Dessert doesn’t have to be off limits it just needs to be enjoyed in moderation, aim for one piece of pie instead of two or three.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do this holiday season is to keep active. Too often we give ourselves permission to take a vacation from the gym during the holidays but if ever there was a time to stick to your workout routine its now. Instead of watching football this Thursday get everyone outside for a game of football or Frisbee or enjoy time with loved ones with a long walk. It’s a great way to get in shape and take advantage of the last of the beautiful Fall weather.

Don’t Forget to Give Thanks
With all the travel and stress it is easy to forget what the holiday’s are all about: enjoying time with family and friends and counting your blessings.  According to several studies people who experience gratitude tend to feel more enthusiastic, alert, happier and more connected to others.  They are also less likely to feel negative emotions like jealousy, anger, resentment or regret. Taking the time out to think of all the things you are thankful for can help keep the spirit of the holidays in focus no matter how stressful things get.