HOUSTON (November 23, 2015)

Keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle can be hard enough, but throw a holiday or two in the mix and it can seem impossible! The season is filled with family gatherings and delicious desserts that can be both exciting and stressful. Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center has some tips for relaxing and enjoying the holidays in a heart-healthy way.

  • What to Eat: According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American may eat about 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on a traditional Thanksgiving holiday. In order to avoid overeating, try picking out the foods that are most meaningful to you. If it’s something that you make regularly, try skipping it during your Thanksgiving meal so you can take part in the seasonal foods you don’t get to enjoy as often. According to Choose My Plate, half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, one quarter should be grains and the last quarter should be proteins or meat. When you go to grab some dessert after the main course, make sure to just get one serving or, better yet, share a dessert with a loved one so you aren’t overindulging.
  • Food Safety: Thoroughly check that the turkey is cooked to the proper temperature. Use a meat thermometer instead of trying to judge it based solely on the color of the meat. Make sure all food is served hot and don’t let it sit out too long because bacteria grows best on warm, moist food. Store all leftovers using sealable containers in the refrigerator within two hours of the meal.
  • Exercise: No one expects you to go to the gym after your Thanksgiving meal and there are plenty of other ways to get some exercise. Most cities host some sort of Thanksgiving 5k you and your family can walk on the morning of Thanksgiving. Or you can always try going for a walk with your family after eating.
  • Stress: When trying to get a handle on the holidays, stress can become an issue. Things like shopping, planning large meals and making sure the house is clean can make you feel stress. Some short-term techniques for handling stress include taking breaks, asking family members for help with tasks, thinking positively and taking care of yourself with a balanced diet.

“One of the common mistakes made on Thanksgiving is skipping meals,” said Sharon Smalling, clinical dietitian with Memorial Hermann-TMC. “It might seem like a good idea to forgo breakfast in order to leave room for some extra turkey or potatoes, but showing up to the meal hungry is likely to result in overeating. Eating a good breakfast with plenty of protein like eggs, yogurt or turkey bacon will leave you feeling full in the morning so you aren’t starving by dinnertime.”

Most of all, Memorial Hermann-TMC affiliated physicians and staff hope everyone enjoys a happy Thanksgiving and heart-healthy holidays.