7 Essential Tips for Your Happiest and Healthiest Thanksgiving Ever

This is the best news! Just in time for Thanksgiving! Contrasting prior beliefs that the average person gains five pounds over the holidays; studies have proven that the scale goes up by just about one pound. Phew! 

If you have a healthy lifestyle, where you create time for daily physical activity and eat a nutritious diet, then this extra pound may melt away before spring. The real problem is if this gain is not reversed. This type of weight gain contributes to the increase in your body weight that often occurs during adulthood. 

While gathering with friends and family to give thanks for life’s abundance is a reason to celebrate Thanksgiving, food has become the highlight of the day. 

You have been preparing your menu for weeks! There are the old family recipes you must use, the traditional dishes that your guests are expecting and some new recipes that you are excited to see everyone rave about! 

You have been texting and calling friends and relatives to make sure they bring the right dish, you set your alarm to get up early to start baking the turkey, set the table and prepare the house and yourself. Before you know it, the doorbell rings and the feast has begun! 

Amidst all the bustle, Thanksgiving might feel like a battle to keep up with your fitness goals, healthier eating and self-care habits. 

Perhaps you have a pattern of over-indulging. This leaves you uncomfortably full, bloated and fatigued for days thereafter. Don’t blame the fatigue on the turkey though! Studies show that while it does contain tryptophan, an amino acid that produces the sleep-related hormone, serotonin, it doesn’t translate to an amplified amount effecting your brain. 

Two other issues that can arrive as unwelcomed holiday guests, are stress and depression. For those who have estranged or lost relatives, have social anxieties, or struggle with loneliness or the presence of certain relatives, the holidays can feel like a time filled with sadness. 

For these reasons, I’ve teamed up with the Grewal Center’s Health Coach, Gin Burchfield. Gin's created a couple Ayurvedic tips to help you enjoy a guilt-free Thanksgiving feast while I've designed some tips to reduce the stress that can accompany the holiday. 

Here are a few: 

1. Make your plate veggie forward. Fill ⅔ to ¾ of your plate with a variety of vegetables and use the other portion for meat and sweet condiments (like Cranberry sauce or marshmallow covered sweet potatoes). The fiber in veggies will fill you up while keeping your digestion regular. 

2. Consider ALL SIX tastes. In Ayurveda we consider six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Getting some of each taste in your meal helps your brain to register satiation more quickly. The first three are relatively easy to get. For the second set you may need to add some “non-traditional” items to your Thanksgiving menu. Pungent can be found in onions, garlic, and chili or other peppers. Bitter is found in green leafy vegetables, so starting with a salad of mixed greens or including collards are good ways to satiate this taste. Astringent can be found in cauliflower, tea, tannin or things like cranberry. Make sure there is a non-sugary version of one of these things in your meal.

3. Eat SLOWLY. we all know that eating too quickly causes indigestion. It also means that your body can’t register fullness before it’s too late. Your stomach needs space to digest food. Eat slow and stop when you are 70% full.

4. Eat bile stimulating food. In Ayurveda we like to “wake up” the digestion before consuming food. Drink a tea of steeped cumin, coriander, ginger and fennel before your meal. Add beets to your green salad. Drink lemon water first thing upon rising. All of these things will stimulate the digestive process and prepare you to more easily digest your food.

5. If you are looking for a great way to reset after Thanksgiving, and find out which foods work best for YOUR body, try my Elimination Diet Here.

6. Do you have a friend or relative who seem to carry a grey cloud over their head, at every gathering? While their mood may feel like a problem that needs fixing, try to understand how or why they may be feeling the way they are and offer your understanding and empathy. You are not responsible for how they feel, and it is not your job to fix them. 

Instead, try paying attention to your own self-talk when you are listening to them. Rather than thinking, “Don’t they see how they’re bringing everyone down?” catch yourself and try to think this, “What situations may have set them up for feeling like this?”. Try to remember a time when you may have been in a similar mood, but don’t allow it to stir up those feelings-recognize it and let it pass. Remain in the present. Ultimately, not trying to “fix” someone’s mood paves the way for considerate connection and genuine support. Even if they continue to carry their cloud, you will have remained calm rather than reactive or impulsive under their stormy mood.

7. If you find yourself struggling with your own feelings during the holidays, take account of them and realize that it’s normal to feel grief or sadness. Make time in your busy schedule to allow yourself moments if you find that you need to cry or express your feelings. 

Reaching out to a trusted friend or relative can be a great way to feel support and companionship. Oftentimes, when people are busy, especially over the holidays, they may not notice a loved one’s needs. Reaching out to them, gives them the opportunity to be there for you. Another great way to lift your spirits? Try volunteering your time to help others in need in your community, such as at your local homeless shelter.

 

 BONUS!

Here’s is my Stuffing Recipe that has become tradition in the Grewal home! Enjoy! 

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups chopped fennel

3 cups chopped onions

3 chopped garlic cloves

3 celery stalk chopped

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

2 eggs

2 medium apples, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

2 cups turkey or chicken stock

Cranberry dressing for garnish 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Gently toast almond meal until jut starting to brown and nicely fragrance.
  3. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the onions, fennel and celery until softened. Add the apple, herbs, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Place almond meal in a large bowl, add the vegetables and herbs and mix well. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper as needed.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with the chicken or turkey stock. Pour it on the stuffing and mix.
  6. Transfer the stuffing into a casserole dish and bake for 20-30 minutes. 
  7. For serving, mix in some of the chopped fresh herb and/or cranberry dressing as garnish on top.

Nutrition Facts:
Servings: 8
Amount per serving:
Calories 314
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21.7g 28%
Saturated Fat 3.2g 16%
Cholesterol 67mg 22%
Sodium 655mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 18.2g 7%
Dietary Fiber 5.1g 18%
Total Sugars 8.2g
Protein 15.7g
Vitamin D 4mcg 19%
Calcium 79mg 6%
Iron 5mg 30%
Potassium 518mg 11%
(*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how
much a nutrient in a food serving
contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a
day is used for general nutrition advice.) 

For more information on Functional Medicine visit my website at KiranGrewalMD.com and follow us on Instagram Facebook for daily health tips, information and inspiration.

To Your Health,

Kiran Grewal MD

"My goal is to share my knowledge with the world. I believe in delivering valuable and ethical content that changes the lives of my patients." -Kiran Grewal MD

  

 

 

 

References: 

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-does-turkey-make-you-sleepy/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4336296/

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