5 Ways to Prioritize Your Health and Nutrition This Thanksgiving

Thank you May it be a wonderful day filled with family, company and of course, delicious food. You may already be looking forward to seeing your extended family and loading up a plate with some mashed potatoes and turkey goodness. But if you’re not, and you’re feeling anxious about the holidays, you’re not alone.

It’s understandable that you might be nervous about traveling or seeing your relatives, and it’s understandable that you might be nervous about actual food, too. A day focused on food and wine can present a major challenge for those trying to reach certain health goals without a membership diet culture, This year, instead of feeling guilty or anxious, try these five strategies for a healthier, less-stressful Thanksgiving holiday.

1. Avoid Uncomfortable Food Coma

Ever wonder why you get so lethargic and tired after you eat Thanksgiving dinner? There are actually a few reasons – and no, the turkey is not to blame.

Tryptophan, a large amino acid known to cause sleepiness, is actually found in turkey, but the link is more complex than it seems. We already have high amounts of tryptophan in our bloodstream, which is converted in the brain to serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for making you feel tired. But the tryptophan levels in turkey alone aren’t high enough to make you groggy. When your insulin is high, the effects of tryptophan are multiplied. This means that starchy carbohydrates in foods with a high glycemic index — such as potatoes, stuffing and sugary desserts — are actually the culprits. If you only eat turkey, you shouldn’t have a problem.

The digestive process may also be to blame. There is a known myth that blood moves from the brain to the gut after overeating, but this is actually not true. Instead, our gut hormones are apt to secrete hormones such as melatonin and orexin to intentionally put us to sleep after we eat a large meal. Our gut also plays a role in activating our vagus nerve, which puts us in a state of “rest and digest” as opposed to “flight or fight” mode. Your body does this to protect you during the digestive process—it wants to digest food in peace rather than let it sit in your gut as you expend energy in an adrenaline-fueled state.

There’s nothing wrong with napping after dinner, but if you want to avoid lethargy, prioritize eating turkey, vegetables, and low-glycemic index carbs like whole grains, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. I’m not saying you have to give up your usual pile of mashed potatoes and gravy, but for food comas, you can always pace yourself during dinner and enjoy the leftovers later. Huh.

2. Cut down on alcohol consumption

The holiday season is often a drinking time, and people drink far more than they should. In a 2018 study, Americans admitted that they drink 27% more during the holidays than during the rest of the year. And the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Thursday is aptly called “Blackout Wednesday” because many people drink heavily before their day off from work.

While drinking in moderation is perfectly normal, especially with the sociable nature of the holidays, a little goes a long way and it’s important not to fall into seasonal binge drinking. The CDC defines binge drinking as four or more drinks during one occasion for women and five or more drinks during one occasion for men.

Alcohol has a strong sedative effect. If you have more than one or two drinks, it will make you even less active after dinner. plus, Alcohol can worsen the quality of your sleep whole night. While alcohol may help you relax and fall asleep, it disturbs your rest Once you fall asleep, and you stay awake all night long.

To prevent lethargy, poor sleep quality, or a painful hangover, limit your alcohol intake. If you plan to enjoy a drink or two with your holiday meal, try to sip slowly and alternate servings of wine with at least one tall glass of water in between. It will slow your pace, and water is the best energy drink. Plus, the extra hydration will help with your headache the next day if you overeat.

Try slowing your drinking speed down to a crawl.

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3. Eat mindfully

Thanksgiving dinner is a prime time for diet culture to rear its ugly head, making it hard to live with Yours your personal health goals without feeling restricted or guilty. Ideally, you can pace yourself and eat as much or as little as you want, while also keeping in mind that the food isn’t going anywhere and you can always eat more later.

It’s easier said than done, but there are effective strategies that can help. One strategy is mindful eating. eat heartily It can help you to be present as you eat, so you feel all the sensations of the food and notice when you start to feel full. By being mindful during the eating process, you can enjoy a delicious meal until you’re satisfied without feeling too full or uncomfortable afterwards.

You can also try eating more slowly than you usually do or putting your fork down between bites. If you tend to overload your plate with more than you can actually eat, try taking smaller portions on your first pass through the buffet so you can taste everything, then reach for more when you feel the need. Go back On the other hand, if you prefer to keep your portions small because of fear, allow yourself to go back for seconds or thirds until you’re truly satiated.

4. Combat Stress

Last year, 53.4 million people were predicted to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. Between traffic, expensive plane tickets, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, and missing the comforts of home, out-of-town vacations can be stressful.

And if road rage or long TSA lines weren’t enough for you anxiety Spike, being around family members, especially those that may be tied to unpleasant memories, is exhausting even for the best of us. All this stress can pile up, and it can be difficult to manage once in that state.

One tool you can always pull out of your back pocket when traveling and facing family stress is the power of saying no. Put yourself first and don’t be afraid to say no when you’re at your limit. No, I can’t attend three Thanksgiving parties in one evening. No, I can’t drive two hours to pick up my in-laws from the airport. No, I don’t want to share a room with my four cousins ​​– I’ll be staying in a hotel.

Another tried-and-true strategy for managing stress and anxiety is spending time in nature. Meditation, exercise and getting enough sleep. If you load up on all those cool vibes before meeting up with the family, you can manage your stress Well enough so that it doesn’t take a toll on your mental health.

Read also: Produce more dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin naturally for a healthier brain

city ​​road traffic jam

Traveling during the holidays can be stressful and exhausting.

Frederick J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

5. Move Your Body

You haven’t seen your cousins ​​in months and you want to catch up, the football game is on and it’s cold outside. During the holiday season, there are a million reasons to cut down on physical activity. But being active even for a few minutes a day is important for your mental and physical health.

If you can, try to be active 30 minutes Suggest going for a walk around the neighborhood before guests arrive, or after the family finishes dinner. Elevating your heart rate even for a few minutes after a hearty Thanksgiving meal has many benefits, including boosting your energy, aiding digestion, and balancing blood sugar levels.

And if you really can’t find the time to exercise, try to do something that gets you on your feet. sweep the floor, put away the dishes, clear the table — anything to do Get up And Keep going,

three women walking in a neighborhood

A leisurely walk after a heavy meal helps digestion.

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Whatever you do, enjoy your Thanksgiving and don’t be hard on yourself for indulging. It’s perfectly fine for you to enjoy your favorite desserts and help yourself to a few seconds if you’d like. Remember that food is meant to be enjoyed, and Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful for food and fellowship.

Don’t feel guilty for giving up on any limits you may have related to your fitness or healthy eating. You can’t – and shouldn’t – change how you feel about yourself one day. Eat for pleasure and enjoy your holidays as much as possible.

Caroline Roberts contributed to this story.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider with respect to any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or health objectives.

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