Each year, we come together with friends and family on Thanksgiving Day to, well, give thanks. In addition to giving thanks for our loved ones, we express gratitude for tables full of food, and eat more than we normally would. While you may want to eat at least some of everything on the table in an effort not to be rude to the various cooks, it’s important to keep your heart health in mind. You should be thankful to have a functioning heart, and a good way to show your thanks is to monitor what you eat and how you eat it.
While many of us may be trained to avoid them, snacks can be your friends. On Thanksgiving, especially, they can serve as pace-setters, and help prevent you from heading to the dinner table starving. It’s commonly expressed that you shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. The same should be said about eating Thanksgiving dinner.
If you’re hosting this year’s festivities, consider using smaller plates for dinner. Many people have a tendency to fill up every inch of their plates – sometimes with more than they’re hungry for. Using smaller plates can help you and your guests practice portion control.
No matter the size of your dinner plate, use your space wisely. Just like with any other meal, make sure you grab some vegetables, as these tend to have less sugar and fat than some of the other foods you may find in front of you. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy the iconic stuffing at Thanksgiving, but moderation is always a good idea. According to Men’s Fitness, two cups of stuffing can come in at close to 1,000 calories. Another staple at many Thanksgivings is canned cranberry, which is often one of the most sugary items at the table. By all means, enjoy some of that and some of the desserts that your loved ones may have worked hard to prepare, but save some for everyone else!
Alongside moderation, pace will help you enjoy a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. According to an American Heart Association study, fast eaters are 11.6% more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, which affects 23% of adults and results in higher risks of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. People who eat at a “normal” pace are about half as likely to develop metabolic syndrome.
Last but not least, one of the healthiest things you can do is to stand up, walk around, and mingle. Moving around will help get those extra steps in, for those of you keeping score on Fitbits or other devices.
You always want to be conscious of what you eat, but don’t let it take over your Thanksgiving. Just make sure you take care of your heart so that you can be around for future Thanksgiving celebrations!