Thanksgiving is about enjoying time with our family and celebrating with traditional foods we know and love. However, the holiday can impact the time usually reserved for healthy routines and involve meals that are not exactly made to be heart-healthy.
To keep your diet and health in check over the Thanksgiving holiday, try these ideas below from the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign, including ways to minimize stress and smart substitutions for your holiday meals.
Try healthy substitutes
These simple tricks make your favorite holiday recipes better for heart health.
- Instead of butter, substitute equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no-sugar-added applesauce.
- Instead of sugar, use a lower-calorie sugar substitute.
- Instead of whole or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or skim milk.
- Instead of using only white flour, use half white and half whole-wheat flour.
- Instead of adding chocolate chips or candies, use dried fruit, like cranberries or cherries.
- Use extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint to add flavor, instead of sugar or butter.
- Use vegetable oils such as olive oil instead of butter (even in your mashed potatoes).
- Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of butter and salt.
- Use whole-grain breads and pastas instead of white.
- Bake, grill or steam vegetables instead of frying.
- Instead of whole milk or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or fat-free/skim milk.
Prepare vegetables, eat a balanced meal
Now that you’ve prepared some of your Thanksgiving meal with healthy substitutes, prepare yourself a balanced plate of all your favorite holiday foods, starting with a salad and vegetables. Eating your veggies will ensure you get the nutrients you need and will help fill you up so you don’t overload on the foods your body needs less of, such as rolls, stuffing and pie.
Increase physical activity
The American Heart Association advises increasing physical activity over Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season to combat the extra calories and additional stress. Go for a family walk after each meal or gathering. Play catch with your kids or walk your dog the long route. Take just 40 minutes and go to the gym to release endorphins your body needs to stay healthy.
Keep stress to a minimum
There’s so much to do at the holidays. Taking care of family, cooking, cleaning—Thanksgiving can involve a lot of activities that not only keep you busy, but can also increase your level of stress. Keep stress to a minimum with stress management techniques. The AHA recommends:
- Planning ahead to help you with time management
- Focusing on one thing at a time
- Taking time to relax & not sweating the small stuff
Get enough sleep
Part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle means getting enough sleep. Why? Because your quality of sleep can impact your heart health. The American Heart Association recommends adults get six to eight hours of sleep per night. Over the holiday, get into bed early to give yourself enough time to wind down after your day and to fall asleep faster and more soundly.
Find more ways to live healthy at Go Red For Women online: www.goredforwomen.orgFor healthy recipes, visit www.heart.org/recipes .
Our mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been fighting heart disease and stroke, striving to save and improve lives. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and stroke ranks second globally. Even when those conditions don’t result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. We want to see a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.