Psychiatrists and nutritionists are in for a debate on the merits of Thanksgiving Day. If the former had their way, Thanksgiving Day would be held every month. They know that an attitude of gratitude is good for mental health. Counting one’s blessings produces a positive outlook, reduces anxiety and depression, and cultivates kindness and compassion. Nutritionists, on the other hand, count the calories in the turkey, the fats in the stuffing, the sugar in the candied yams and the carbs in the mashed potatoes and the bread rolls.
Nonetheless, finding a way to combine mental and physical health isn’t such a Herculean task on this day of thanks. Traditional Thanksgiving practices of gathering extended families for a lavish feast are the roots to the all of the festivities of the holiday, but Thanksgiving has transformed into a string of events and holidays, unseen any other time of the year. Every year, the night before Thanksgiving is the biggest drinking night of the year, which is followed the next day by the holiday proper, which is followed the next day by Black Friday. Thanksgiving has turned into a marathon of nationwide practices, habits, traditions that sees us drinking more, eating more and spending more than we do any other time of year.
Pretty amazing stuff to think about.
Without disrespect to the age-old traditions associated with Thanksgiving, it's still possible to observe healthy habits in the midst of bottomless booze, lavish feasts and frenzied shopping. Moderation is the key, which is easier said than done on this string of days sees us embracing excess.
Before the Feast
The night before Thanksgiving has always been tagged as the biggest drinking night of the year in the US. This dubious title gives men and women alike the license to drink all they can in the comfort of acceptability. After all, tomorrow is a holiday. There's no work, no reason to wake up early, no real responsibility outside of getting together with your family to eat a ridiculously large meal. Before you join the drinking binge, however, here are some pointers to help minimize your Thanksgiving morning aches and pains.
Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated and dilute the alcohol you will take in. Also order a water or a fruit drink in between alcoholic drinks to keep your system a little diluted.
Choose the right food you eat when you are drinking. eVitamins doesn't regularly promote fatty, fried foods, but in this instance - that's exactly what you should look for. Fatty foods increase your drinking power by lining the gastrointestinal tract with oil and decreasing the absorption rate of alcohol. Choose sausages, pizza, calamari and other fried foods over chocolates and cheese sticks.
Choose the right poison. Whiskey contains malt, which gives you those colossal after-drinking headaches. Beer is an Atkins enemy. Liquor is metabolized in the body as a sugar.
Call a cab or hoof it back home. There's no need to cut the holidays short by what can happen when you drive drunk.
During the Feast
The big day has arrived and if you took part in last night's festivities you're probably hurting. Start with water or Gatorade, and don't be afraid to get a multivitamin in your system. Pedialyte - you know, the stuff you give babies - is a hangover remedy that many people swear by. After your recovery, there's the big dinner to look forward to. Dinner on Thanksgiving is an ordeal for the eternal dieter and the health-conscious buff in you. Temptation beckons and conscience reigns. Here's how to minimize the damage of eating a 3,000 calorie meal:
Buy an organic, free-range turkey. These types of turkey are fed with natural food and are free of chemicals. The more common frozen turkey may be genetically modified and jacked up on steroids or antibiotics. The only downside to organic free-range turkeys is the cost, usually double that of the other kind, but considering that you don’t serve turkey often, it's well worth the price vis-a-vis its health benefits.
- If you’re in charge of cooking this main dish, opt for the slow-roasted or baked type of cooking. Fried turkey may be tasty but it also absorbs the oil used to fry it. Go for the breast rather than the legs and wings. White meat contains less fat and cholesterol than dark meat.
Skip the side dish of mashed potatoes. Potatoes are bad carbs. They are fattening and they can raise sugar levels. The butter that goes with them adds to their deadly properties.
Stuff up on the green bean casserole. Green beans are a healthy source of protein and fiber. They also fill you up quickly, making it easier for you to resist the other calorie-rich food on the table.
Yams are rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber, yet very low in calories. Yams are great for dieting and promoting digestion. Candied yams are one of the mainstays in many a Thanksgiving feast. Strike a bargain with your conscience by eating the yams and scraping off the sugar and syrup for a healthier version of this sweet treat.
After the Feast
There's not much that needs to be said after the big meal, for many it's lights out early on Thanksgiving. The common misconception of the post-meal laze is that it's the result of the tryptophan found in the turkey meat. The truth is that you feel tired because you're body is exhausted from trying to digest all of the food you dropped down your gullet. Since many businesses are closed the Friday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday has emerged as the third day in a row of tremendous excess. More money will trade hands on this day than any other day of the year. Sales start early and the traffic seems to start even earlier. Here's how to keep your cool among the swarms of shoppers:
Draw out your plan of attack. Black Friday is a day of madness, confusion, emotion and even fog of war. Get it figured out before you leave your house as to what exactly you're going to buy and what stores you're planning on hitting. Check the hours of operation. Get your coupons in order. Do your Black Friday homework and you can cut out a lot of the frustrating meandering.
Watch the clock. Starting early may or may not help you cut down on the time you're out shopping but being clock conscious can. Try to hit the roads when the traffic is low. Less traffic means less time is wasted and it cuts out a major source of the day's frustration.
Keep it cool. You know going into this that you're going to get stuck behind a lot of old ladies, so don't be surprised when it happens. Crying babies, sweaty shopping lines, limited availability of the things you want to buy - these are all the joys of Black Friday shopping and so keep it cool when they happen. You'll probably get cut off by a few minivans before you even start shopping too, so be sure to take a deep breath and count to ten before you start flashing your finger to a van full of kids.
Following these tips can help keep the string of Thanksgiving festivities from ruining you. Drinking responsibly, practicing restraint at dinner and keeping your cool aren't foreign concepts, and remembering them during the holidays shouldn't be any harder than any other time of year.
eVitamins recommends that you do not rely on the information presented in this article as diagnosis for treatment to any health claim. Content and information on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. The information and statements in this article have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. eVitamins assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements.