Managing Common Health Conditions at Thanksgiving
Have you ever wondered how many calories you consume at a standard Thanksgiving meal of turkey and gravy with “all the fixin’s”?
No. Of course you haven’t. Who wants to think about that?
Even without counting calories it’s easy to imagine how consuming huge helpings of gravy-smothered turkey, starchy foods like mashed potatoes and stuffing, and sugary mountains of candied yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie could put strain on the body.
It’s such a strong part of American culture to overeat at the holidays that to break the mold is almost considered sinful. Everybody at work is talking about how excited they are about Mom’s apple pie, or Dad’s deep-fried turkey.
It would really bum them out if you started spouting off nutrition facts. That’s no way to make friends.
Look, it’s okay to shrug your shoulders and just go with the flow once in a while … unless of course you have a health condition that puts you at risk if you do.
IF YOU HAVE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
One of your greatest enemies at Thanksgiving is salt. Too much sodium disrupts the chemical balance in your kidneys, making it harder for them to filter excess water out of the blood. The pressure can lead to damage, blocking blood flow to the heart or brain. Heart attacks and strokes can result.
One of those high-sodium dishes popular at Thanksgiving is stuffing. Yeah, that’s hard to give up. Worry not. Check out this recipe for apple walnut wheat stuffing that will make you wonder why you were ever eating regular stuffing in the first place.
IF YOU’RE DIABETIC
Diabetes management does not mean guessing at how much extra insulin to give yourself before Thanksgiving dinner. Too little, and excess sugars pull fluid from tissues, dehydrating you, blurring your vision and causing nerve damage. Too much insulin leads to fatigue or even losing consciousness.
Better to just not overeat sugary foods … but wow, easier said than done. Unless of course you find diabetic-friendly recipes like these (including candied sweet potatoes!) that make the world feel a little less cruel.
IF YOU STRUGGLE WITH OBESITY
There are many potential consequences of obesity, including both of the above. Others on the list: depression, liver failure and cancer. It is nothing to take lightly, holiday or not. Fighting obesity means flocking to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and fat-free dairy products.
That doesn’t mean your food has to be boring! Frankly, turkey’s gotten little old anyway. How about lemon and herb poached halibut (see #18) instead? Fish is a lean meat and goes great with seasoned vegetables you can indulge in while continuing to keep weight gain under control.
YOU CAN DO THIS
You’re not alone. Millions of Americans struggle with these health challenges and face the same culturally-driven temptations this time of year.
Be open about your health needs with your friends and family. Let them help you take care of yourself. At the end of the day, you’ll be a whole lot more thankful for their support than you would have been for all those troublesome fixin’s.