Thanksgiving is a time for enjoying family, food and football—each in large portions! However, too much of a good thing can turn holiday pleasures into a painful, unhappy experience.
Fortunately, the secrets to a pain-free Thanksgiving are safe, effective and easily accessible. Let’s set the dinner table, a place where a meal can easily turn into a mouthful.
There’s no doubt Americans like to celebrate in abundance. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, last year American farmers raised 254 million turkeys, 768 million pounds of cranberries and 47 million pounds of potatoes. The fact that we eat too much is no surprise.
The obesity epidemic has expanded the waistlines of one-third of all Americans with the associated risks of developing the most common form of diabetes—Type 2.
Less appreciated is the relationship between pain and too many servings of favored Thanksgiving menu items like pumpkin pie. The heavier you are, the greater the strain on your bones and muscles. Ironically, your body requires even more calories to repair the tissue damage, thus creating a vicious cycle.
The secret solution isn’t a radical diet, but better planning and a positive attitude.
- When preparing your Thanksgiving menu, substitute processed foods for healthier alternatives. This is something we should be doing all year round, but is especially important to keep in mind when cooking for a crowd.
- Beware of artificial sweeteners. Cut back on high fructose corn syrup and even natural sugar, as they’re both agents that can cause muscle cramping and abdominal discomfort, with an increased risk of diabetes.
- Avoid excess sodium. Too much salt, which causes fluid retention, can lead to joint pain. No one wants to deal with achy knees on Thanksgiving Day.
- Watch your portions. We all know this to be helpful in terms of avoiding holiday weight gain, but it will also help you to feel better physically.
- Incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients into your menu items. Herbs and spices like rosemary, ginger and holy basil help to reduce inflammation, a common source of pain. Try roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes as a side dish or a soothing ginger tea as a post-meal refreshment.
And try not to let the tryptophan make you lazy. Simply gathering the family for a leisurely walk instead of plopping down on the couch for a post-feast nap will help your odds of having a pain-free day.
As a country, we’re becoming more overweight, but it’s also clear that we’re becoming more conscious of the food we put in our bodies, as reflected by more than 5 million search results for “diet” in Google News.
What’s not as prevalent in American minds is how those extra pounds not only lead to health problems like diabetes and cardiac disease, but can also undermine your body’s resilience, making you more susceptible to painful conditions like arthritis.
Making these minor lifestyle changes shouldn’t diminish your Thanksgiving enjoyment. It will heighten the experience, which should be less about consumption and more about good fellowship and good fortune.
Wendell Berry, who has been likened to a modern day Thoreau, put it well when he wrote, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.”
Here’s to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!