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Parent blog: Seven tips for a healthy Thanksgiving

EdNews Colorado editor and writer Julie Poppen offers some healthy holiday tips while admitting to ordering a precooked meal and being hooked on watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Two days to the feast. I can taste it all now: A slab of turkey covered in buttery mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and a glob of home-made cranberry sauce. Oh no, just drooled on the keyboard.

Photo courtesy Macy’s
Photo courtesy Macy’s

Now I realize there is a temptation to exercise like a maniac or fast so you can truly chow down on Thanksgiving and feel good about it. But we all know these are not healthy strategies for life and we do want to be excellent models for our impressionable children. Right? Right? Yes, we do.

So I offer some tips provided by Colorado Action for Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization that is all about helping parents transform their schools and homes into places of good health. These particular tips come from dietician Caroline Roffidal-Blanco, mother of two, 2012 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Community Leadership Award recipient and Action for Healthy Kids’ school volunteer manager. Thank you, Action for Healthy Kids.

1. Focus on the festivities. Don’t let the food be the primary focus. Enjoy spending time with family and friends.

2. Plan for mealtime. Chances are holiday meals won’t be during typical meal times. Plan the day accordingly and don’t skip meals or snacks beforehand because that affects blood sugar and may lead to overeating.

3. Tune up the menu. Look at ways that you can make some of the dishes on the menu healthier. Consider using ingredient substitutions for a low-fat or low-sugar option.

4. Bring a dish that fits your meal plan. If your family is attending an event, feel free to bring a healthy option. You’ll be surprised at how many people will thank you.

5. Be sure to serve healthy portions of all the food groups. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat protein and low-fat or non-fat dairy.

6. Don’t overdo it. Remember, it’s OK to enjoy the holiday fixins’ – just serve small portions and limit the sweets and desserts.

7. Be active. Enjoy the time with family and friends by going for a walk after the meal or play outside together. The kids will love it.

Voila, these are a few easy tips to follow over the holidays or anytime there are celebrations throughout the year. The American Diabetes Association also has great resources on diabetic menu planning for the holidays and easy and healthy recipes that are perfect for tuning up your holiday menu.

I’d like to add an eighth tip to get myself off the hook. If life is tossing curveballs at you and your family, you should feel absolutely no guilt about ordering a pre-cooked, ready-to-go Thanksgiving meal from a grocery store. Phew, off the hook. I will, however, attempt to get outside for a walk or maybe even jump a bit on the trampoline and not eat more than one slice of pumpkin pie. (I won’t forgo the whipped cream, though).

But all that will come after the hours I spend sipping coffee and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade – my personal favorite Thanksgiving Day activity.

Happy holidays!

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