Thanksgiving Survival Guide

When we talk about a healthy Thanksgiving, we’re usually thinking about the meal itself – how to cut the calories, make healthy substitutions, and avoid overeating. And that’s part of it.

But what a lot of us don’t think about is the stress we feel about Thanksgiving. What to do when your aunt brings up politics. Planning the meal. Preparing the house for guests. Handling your cantankerous father-in-law. You can make the healthiest meal in the world, but if you don't have practical strategies for dealing with stress, you’re really nowhere. Stress leads to inflammation and suppresses your immune system, which leads to sickness. So we’ve come up with some ideas to manage all the curveballs you’ll be juggling this holiday.

DO THE ADVANCE WORK

  • If you’ve got guests coming for the holiday, get their room and bathroom ready a few days in advance. Make a schedule of activities and make sure to schedule in some down time when they’re on their own so you can decompress.
  • If you’re making the dinner, write down everything you’ll be serving. Prepare everything you can in advance, and don’t try any new recipes. Keep it simple.
  • Get help. Assign duties for who’ll set the table, do the grocery shopping, peel the potatoes. And don’t be afraid to enlist house guests in the activities. Thanksgiving is a time for spending time together. It doesn’t matter what. (And if your guests aren’t willing to pitch in, maybe you should rethink inviting them next year.)

MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

  • If you don’t already do meditation every day, start now. Find a quiet room and take ten minutes to focus on your breathing. Sit or lie down and just pay attention to what’s happening inside you. Is there tension anywhere in your body? Focus on breathing the air into the tense muscles and releasing tension from them on the exhale. This will do wonders!
  • Find time each day to do something you enjoy. Read, run, grab a coffee and relax. These moments allow you to recharge.

TRAVEL EARLY

  • If you’re going to somewhere for the holiday, avoid the rush. Try to travel a day or two earlier and leave later than you need to.

ASK FOR HELP

  • You don’t have to do it all yourself. Enlisting your friends and family in the preparation not only takes pressure off of you, it makes them feel good that they’re contributing.

PICK YOUR BATTLES

  • Every holiday has its share of tension. Many times, we’re more concerned with winning an argument than with keeping the peace. Let peace be your goal and find the strength within you to let things go. It can be profoundly calming to realize that although someone is irritating you, you have the strength within to acknowledge the irritation and rise above it.

CHOOSE HEALTHY MENU OPTIONS

You don't have to deny yourself all those great Thanksgiving specialties. Just make good choices when you do your shopping. Choose organic, locally-sourced, non-GMO, free range, grass-fed, hormone free options when available. This is when our Detox Your Home mantra can make a huge difference.

We've compiled an easy list of go-to recipes for traditional Thanksgiving favorites. Each recipe includes options for special diets like vegan or gluten-free. We've also thrown in a totally dairy-free, vegan, astoundingly delish Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Parfait dessert option because that's how we roll. You'll be amazed at how satisfying it all is. 

And if you're using your own recipes, check out the list of helpful tips below.

  • Each American consumes nearly 40 pounds of sugar (63,750 calories!) throughout the course of one year. Substitute natural, unprocessed sweeteners for sugar.
  • Use whole wheat flour instead of enriched white flour in your baked goods. You’ll save 77 calories and a prevent a spike of insulin from affecting the body. If you don’t want to replace all of your flour, use just half whole wheat and half enriched.
  • Cook with skim milk instead of whole or 2% milk. Your potatoes will be just as creamy, and you’ll save up to 70 calories.
  • Replace whole eggs in cooking & baking with egg white. You’ll save 60 calories and 238 mg of cholesterol. Or just replace half.
  • Instead of using store-bought or your traditional homemade chip dip, try this out: Use regular mayonnaise for half of the recipe, and replace the other half with reduced fat sour cream. One cup of lower-fat sour cream will provide all the flavor and texture of mayonnaise for 1,300 calories and 150 grams of fat less.

And of course, you can always go all the way with this amazing Dairy-Free Chocolate Pumpkin Parfait with Cashew Cream

GET SOME EXERCISE

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and to burn off extra calories. In ten minutes you can burn:

  • Walking at brisk pace = 54 calories
  • Heavy cleaning = 54 calories
  • Step-ups (using stairs) = 175 calories
  • Raking leaves = 40 calories

We wish all of you the happiest and healthiest Thanksgiving ever! Please visit our Facebook Page and join the conversation. Let us know your favorite Thanksgiving tips and post pics of your celebration.