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Thanksgiving is often associated with ‘too much,’ here are five healthy ways to say thanks this holiday

Photo from St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Thanksgiving has gotten a bad rap. Too often it’s associated with too much food, too much alcohol and too little activity. It doesn’t have to be that way.

“I love cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie as much as the next person,” says Dr. Aleah Gibson, a family physician with St. Elizabeth Physicians. “Working hard all year just to blow it all on one day is so discouraging. You can have great food with your family and even treat yourself to that pumpkin pie if you plan right and make a few simple changes. Talk to your family about holiday plans ahead of time. This way you can prepare for healthier choices to be available. Put some activity in your day and think about changing the Thanksgiving focus from food to family.”

How do you do that? Here are some tips:

Keep it clean.

Giving thanks isn’t the same as giving in to gluttony. Done right the traditional Thanksgiving meal is actually loaded with nutrients. That turkey breast is lean protein, the sweet potatoes are a beta carotene-loaded superfood and the cranberries are brimming with antioxidants and vitamin C. It’s the gravy, butter and sugar we ladle on that can be the meal’s undoing. Watch the added fats and sugars and remember Julia Child’s advice: all things in moderation.

Ready, set, go.

Lace up your running or walking shoes and get the family out for a Thanksgiving Day road race. You’ll be home in plenty of time to get the bird in the oven and you’ll feel more energized too.

Go natural.

Take a Thanksgiving hike in the woods. It’s not only invigorating. It’s also a great way to spend a little quiet time contemplating the things for which you’re grateful.

Touch football anyone?

Sure watching Thanksgiving Day football is a time-honored tradition, but why not get out and play a little yourself? Gather your family and friends and head for the backyard. It’s what halftime is for.

Really mean it.

Research supports the connection between gratitude and overall wellbeing. Studies have found people who adopt an “attitude of gratitude” improve their happiness and relationships. There are lots of ways to cultivate gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. Seek out people who have had a positive impact on your life and thank them. Let them know what a difference they’ve made. Make a practice of saying “thanks” and don’t save those pretty note cards for the day after you receive a gift or attend a dinner party. Go ahead and say “thanks.”

St. Elizabeth Healthcare

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