9 Holiday Health Tips for Thanksgiving
By: Brandi Wagner, RHN
1 November, 2018 by
9 Holiday Health Tips for Thanksgiving
Sun Chlorella USA

It's assumed that with great pleasure from eating delicious food over the holidays must come great weight gain. And while it's true that many holiday dishes are made with ingredients that can have a negative impact on your health and wellness, this doesn't always have to be the case.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyable and relaxing, spent with family and friends while feeling appreciative for what you have. The last thing you should be doing over the holidays is worrying about your food choices, your waistline or feeling guilty for having that piece of pumpkin pie or Granny's homemade shortbread.

There are several holiday health tips you can make your Thanksgiving traditions healthier by making small tweaks to popular holiday dishes. The minor changes will add plenty of extra nutrition to your meals without taking away the anticipated, mouth-watering holiday flavours you look forward to. By making these simple changes, you can enjoy and savour every bite without feeling guilty and instead feel empowered, knowing you've made the best choices possible for your health this season.

Here are nine holiday health tips to make your Thanksgiving traditions healthier without changing the taste or holiday feel.

1. Make Your Own Cranberry Sauce at Home

Holiday dishes are all about flavour, which is why you should never skip out on cranberry sauce! However, there are two good reasons to skip out on the store bought, canned cranberry sauce and make your own at home.

Canned cranberry jelly usually contains white sugar, corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, a genetically modified man-made sugar that skyrockets your blood sugar levels. High fructose corn syrup should be avoided at all costs based on the way it interferes with your natural wellness.

Additionally, the cans that cranberry sauce are packaged in often contain BPA or bisphenol-A, a toxic chemical found in plastics and in the coating of tin cans. BPA was introduced with the intention to prevent bacterial growth in canned and packaged foods; however, it has been linked to endocrine disruption [1] and may cause neurological symptoms such as hyperactivity.

Cranberries in particular are more likely to be contaminated with BPA than other canned foods due to their acidity. High acidic foods such as tomatoes and cranberries leach the BPA from the cans, putting you at greater risk of ingesting this toxic chemical.

Instead, make your own cranberry sauce at home. It's extremely simple to do, and you can control exactly what goes into the sauce - no high fructose corn syrup required.

Purchase fresh or frozen cranberries to melt in a sauce pan over medium heat and flavour with pure orange juice, orange zest, pure celtic sea salt and honey. You could even use Sun Wakasa Gold as a sweetener, which is rich in the life-giving nutrient Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) and anti-aging compounds that help build up your immune system. You'll be amazed at how much better your own cranberry sauce tastes, not to mention how good you'll feel eating it, knowing it's free of refined sugar and full of fiber, superfoods and all natural vitamins and minerals.

2. Swap Regular Mashed Potatoes for Yams

There's nothing wrong with regular potatoes as they still contain important nutrients such as vitamin C, B6 and magnesium. However, the reason regular potatoes have a bad reputation when it comes to your health and wellness is because they rank high on the glycemic index and the glycemic load.

This means that regular potatoes (such as russet potatoes) are higher in sugar and their sugar is released more rapidly into the bloodstream. These characteristics negatively impact your blood sugar levels and trigger fat storage over time.

So while a small portion of regular potatoes every once in a while won't kill you, I recommend switching to yams instead. Yams have a lower glycemic load and rank lower on the glycemic index than potatoes [2], which means they don't have as much of an impact on your blood sugar levels or your waistline. Yams also contain extra nutrients that potatoes don't, such as beta-carotene, a form of one of the most popular antioxidant vitamins for anti-aging, vitamin A.

3. Choose a Free Range, Organic Turkey

One of the foods I always recommend to purchase organically is meat. The hormones and antibiotics that animals are treated with on factory farms aren't natural and act as toxins in our body when we consume them. These toxins get stored in our fat cells and can contribute to illness and disease later on.

If you were going to choose only one of these tips, purchasing organic meat for the holidays is the best place to start.

4. Improve Your Digestion By Eating Raw Foods Before Your Meal

What's the use of making a delicious, healthy Thanksgiving feast and not being able to properly digest and absorb the life-giving nutrients from your food?

Your body naturally produces digestive enzymes to breakdown, digest, absorb and assimilate nutrients. Raw plant foods also contain digestive enzymes that your body can use as an extra digestive boost.

To get the most out of your meals, have a simple green salad twenty minutes before your meal or simply chew on a few leafy green leaves or celery sticks prior to eating. This can be an especially helpful natural digestive aid when consuming heavier meals than you're used to.

5. Drink Lemon or Lime Water - and Lots of it

Water is often overlooked as one of the most important elements of our diets. Hydration is key for energy, digestion and flushing toxins from your system, and we tend not to get nearly enough of it on a daily basis.

Since many holiday foods contain sodium and refined sugar, which are both very dehydrating, it's a good idea to increase your water intake by a few additional glasses on top of your daily recommended water consumption. Coffee and tea is also dehydrating, so be sure to pay attention to your water intake and the foods and beverages you're consuming. Refilling a glass of water and keeping it beside you to drink throughout the entire day is a very good idea.

Adding freshly squeezed lemon or lime to your water enhances your body's natural detoxification abilities and promotes efficient digestion. Lemon or lime also acts as one of the best natural immune system boosters because both are high in vitamin C.

6. Use a Smaller Dinner Plate (And Fill Half of it With Veggies)

One of the visual tricks to staying healthy during the holidays is to use a smaller dishware. With so many delicious options laid out for you to choose from, who could blame you for wanting to pile up the turkey, stuffing, yams and cabbage rolls sky high on your plate?

The problem with having a large plate is that you tend to fill it, of course. And typically, we'll be distracted during dinner with conversation or the food will taste so amazing that we'll proceed to eat everything on the plate even if we're full.

This year, try filling a smaller plate (even if it's just one size down). You won't feel deprived, and I can bet you'll be full by the time you finish it.

I also recommend filling half of your plate with vegetables and eating the vegetables first. This way, you'll fill up on the most nutritious part of the meal before you make your way to the turkey, stuffing and yams, pumpkin pie and even pumpkin soup.

7. Chew Your Food Slowly

Chewing your food slowly and thoroughly seems almost too obvious and simple to point out, but it's one of the most common reasons why we experience poor digestion. Besides, if you don't chew your food properly, who will?

When your food isn't chewed well, your body has to do plenty of extra work to break it down which can result in bloating, indigestion, stomach aches and flatulence. Worst of all, you're not likely to absorb as many nutrients from the food you're eating.

Since holiday meals only come around a few times each year, savour every bite and appreciate the delicious food in front of you as you chew slowly and thoroughly.

8. Use Whole Grain Sprouted Bread for Your Stuffing

Rather than using white bread which contains very little fiber, vitamins or minerals, try substituting for sprouted grain bread instead.

This is a quick and easy swap you can make to increase the nutrition in your holiday meals. Sprouted whole grain bread contains B vitamins, fibre, magnesium and the mineral chromium, which helps balance blood sugar and reduce cravings for sugar later on. Sprouted grains are also easier for your body to digest, absorb and assimilate.

9. Make Morning Exercise a Thanksgiving Tradition

To kickstart your metabolism for the day ahead, why not catch a quick hot yoga class, spin class or HIIT session?

Exercise is important to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, improve the functioning of your digestive system and promote a happy mood (just in case the in-laws are in town).

By prioritizing exercise on the days you know you may be consuming a little more food than usual, you don't have to spend your time worrying about sabotaging your natural weightloss or health and wellness goals and can focus on the joy that the holidays bring instead.

Even if you implement only a few of these holiday health tips to your holiday traditions this year, you'll make a huge positive impact on your health. I won't be surprised if you don't feel the need to take a nap on the couch after dinner and felt like playing a game of football instead!

Besides, the healthier your Thanksgiving dinner is and the more nutrients you consume, the more room there will be for that piece of pumpkin pie or dessert after dinner. And perhaps one of the most important factors for a healthy Thanksgiving dinner is to enjoy your meal thoroughly in the presence of good company.

About Brandi Wagner, RHN
Brandi Wagner is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from Vancouver, B.C. Experiencing her own health challenges at a young age led her to become passionate about educating on the healing properties of food, and how to achieve hormone balance, clear skin and sustainable weight loss naturally. In her spare time you'll find Brandi writing in her blog and hanging out with her teacup chihuahua, Coconut.

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[1] http://www.ehhi.org/reports/plastics/bpa_health_effects.shtml 
[2] http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods 

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