If staying healthy through the holidays were just a matter of staying steadily on our routines, even exercising a bit more to compensate, or counting calories, then holding the line on our weight during the holidays wouldn’t be such a recurring subject. You see, it’s not just the food, it’s the expectations around the holidays that make it such a loaded subject. The difficulty is that traditions and memories and expectations may be even more powerful than just the attraction of those delicious holiday meals and treats alone.

Yet, although gaining weight during the holidays is not a myth, it does not have to be a family tradition. The opportunities to make Thanksgiving healthier are simple and plentiful. They only call for us to look at some old, familiar things a little differently.

A Different Take on Traditions

Instead of thinking about a Thanksgiving table deprived of familiar foods, it might be a better idea to think like a chef, aiming for adventure and enterprise. Recipes that break with tradition while giving a new slant on enjoyment are plentiful. Butternut squash has all the color of candied yams – without the “candied.” Apple-cider gravy tastes like the season without tasting like the bird.

Who knew sweet potatoes could be so good without brown sugar in the recipe? It’s not so much the foods we eat at Thanksgiving that are challenging, but rather the traditional preparations. The respected Cleveland Clinic has published a fast and helpful infographic, “Serve This, Not That,” which can be a great door opener and thought starter as we shop for the big dinner.

Maybe Serve with a Smaller Spoon

It might sound boring, but portion size is the clearest opportunity for saving calories at Thanksgiving. And it’s something you can practice even as a guest. You don’t have to oversee the kitchen to just look at your plate differently this Thanksgiving. In fact, seeing a bit of plate in between the holiday delights is a good start on better-sized portions. MD Anderson Cancer Center composed a handy Thanksgiving portion size cheat-sheet.

As part of a new Thanksgiving tradition, let’s think about this. It could be another source of gratitude. Not only the recipes, but also the portions we came to expect at Thanksgiving grew up when most Americans worked hard physically, outdoors, for as long as the sun was up. If we continue to eat the way our forefathers did, when 80% of the nation farmed the land, wielding tools with their arms and their backs, rather than keyboards with their fingers, then we can expect to pay with our health and well-being. The fuel of farm labor has become the basis for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in the digital age. The diets that went with farming are ripe for re-thinking.

We’d be glad to help you take even better care of what you’re most thankful for, at Thanksgiving and throughout the year. Just call us at 843-815-6468.