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Friday, November 18, 2016

Switching Up our Thanksgiving Traditions for our Health and Happiness

Thanksgiving is a day that embodies many things for us. It is a time we look forward to as we gather with family and friends, many of whom we may only see at holidays. It is also a time seeped in all variety of traditions from the decorations we use, the table we set and the foods we prepare.


Over time we can see these traditions as a source of comfort and goodwill or we can see them as a burden and the bane of our existence. The last thing we want on a holiday is to be held captive by our traditions. We should only keep the ones we like and pitch the ones we don't. Old habits, especially bad habits, are hard to break. So how do we break out of the traditions we no longer want as part of our lives because we want better times? Switch it up. This is particularly true when it comes to the foods we eat and the amount we eat.

There is no reason we can't have our favorite foods. If they are made from recipes that have a lot of fat, sugar or salt it is possible to change up the recipe to find an updated version that is tasty yet healthier. I have a friend I recently enjoyed a dinner with who mentioned to me how years ago I had recommended Cooking Light to her and how she loves the magazine and almost exclusively cooks from it. Cooking Light is a great example of a resource where the recipes are all delicious, made with real ingredients, and are well conceived for a healthier lifestyle. There are many other great online resources for healthy recipes when you are looking to update a family favorite or be inspired by something new. Switch it up this Thanksgiving by trying out an updated version of a family favorite recipe.


The other tradition we have which is truly unhealthy and ultimately something we find unenjoyable  is how we gorge ourselves at Thanksgiving. I can hear the groans from stuffed family members now! Why have we made this a ubiquitous American tradition, especially when it makes us miserable? It is definitely time to switch up this bloating and burdensome holiday tradition. How? One way is to set up a buffet in another room from where you are eating so people have to get up to go get more food. That way it won't be sitting on the table for people to keep serving up spoonfuls of the food in front of them. Another great trick is to pre-portion your foods. It can be as easy as fixing just enough food for everyone attending or pre-cutting portions of food and arranging it on platters as discrete servings. Another great way we have found to help keep portions to a just-right size is to use LivSpoons, serving spoons with measurement. They are actually designed to hook on a side of a bowl so you can place the size you want on the bowl of food you are serving up. They are super easy to use, attractive, and a new way to switch up how you serve up.


Eight years ago our family decided to switch up our Thanksgiving traditions. We chose new updated recipes of our family favorites to make our meal healthier without giving up the foods we love. Our meals are no longer so complicated or burdensome. There are so many less calories too!

We also started a new tradition of taking a family walk before we sit down to our meal. I still love working hard to make our special dinner, and now I also relish our beautiful, long walks in the morning as a family enjoying our time of being together. On this day of thanksgiving there is nothing better than reveling in the beauty of the day, being with family and working up an appetite on our walk.

As I firmly believe and see more and more people embrace: The greatest gift we can give ourselves and the ones we love is the gift of health.

May you have a Happy and Health-filled Thanksgiving!