Can you believe we are in the end-of-year countdown? The busiest time of the year with November as the starting line to Thanksgiving. Followed by December, holiday parties, Cantatas, and Christmas Parades. Then there is the New Year's Day Dinner! What a race to get it all done and still look lovely, and relaxed, like if you had a party planner wave her wand and Voila! You wish...
Now is really a great time to prioritize yourself. During this time we become very focused on planning, organizing, cleaning, cooking, and thinking of the perfect gift…if you did not shop in July. We forget to spend time focusing on ourselves, and our own well-being.
Yes, you can have it all done and look lovely and relaxed if you plan ahead. So let's start with Thanksgiving. In this blog, I list 8 reminders to help you have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving, prioritizing you first.
Be determined to end this year well in good health, enjoying the most important part of the season family, friends, and community. So let's do it!
1. Most important, know your numbers.
It's important for you to go into the holidays knowing your numbers. Numbers such as your A1C, cholesterol level, and blood pressure baseline. These numbers will help you make better food and activity choices during this hustle and bustle season. If you are prediabetic or diabetic you know to monitor your carbohydrate intake. If you are prone to high blood pressure, plan low-sodium meals, don't skip your medications, and continue your regular exercise. Which would keep you in the safe zone, and may reduce a potential stroke event. It is sad to say, but Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times for staff in the emergency departments. This is due to excessive consumption of sodium/salt which can lead to symptoms of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. It is really important to know your numbers to keep safe during the holiday season.
2. Keep your medical appointments!
It is easy to forget doctor's appointments and because they can be rescheduled you may be tempted to cancel. Don't forget you may also have funds left in your health savings account that cannot be carried over into next year (check your plan). We have to fight the urge to put our health aside for the sake of the holidays!
You may be tempted to skip having your mammogram or any other important medical appointment/screening. Many of my patients who went for regular dialysis treatments would skip one or two during the holidays, only to end up in the ED spending it in a hospital room or worst Intensive care. Remember medication refills may not be a priority as you dart in and out of stores. But all of these actions can land you in an emergency room instead of being with family and friends fellowshipping.
I want you to be with and enjoy family and friends, and not be a patient in my care at the hospital.
3. Plan to eat the Okinawa way
Have you heard of the Okinawa elders who have some of the highest life expectancy rates in the world? Well, the elders there have an Okinawan adage that they say before meals, called Hara Hachi bu. It is a reminder to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.
I can hear you laughing, but do you know that when you eat, there are food "full sensor gauges" in your stomach to send signals to your brain to say you are full? Most of us overeat before the "full" sensation registers. If you try the 80% rule, leaving the 20 % you will realize that you do not need to eat more you are full, and satisfied but not uncomfortably stuffed. Leave the stuffed feeling for the turkey...LOL
This may need some practice before you are faced with the deep-fried turkey, side of candied yam, the to-die-for mac and cheese, and the famous family pecan pie. Yummy!
On the other hand, if you have a restricted diet, let the host of the event know your dietary needs. You can offer to add a dish to cater to those restrictions. There are so many natural low-glycemic sweeteners and other food alternatives on the market that other guests may not even taste the difference.
Eating smart and paying attention to our bodies can help change our new year's resolutions from 'getting fit' to 'staying healthy' throughout the new year!
4. Hydrate hydrate hydrate
A glass of wine may be lovely but alcohol, coffee, and highly sweeten beverages can be dehydrating.
So remember water is your best friend!
5. Monitor yourself for signs of overexertion
Do not extend yourself beyond your abilities. This time of year is very stressful. We all try to impress, prepare the perfect meal, and have the house look effortlessly festive. Some of us have sleepover families with young kids running around. If you are used to living alone with things a certain way this can be unnerving, to say the least.
If you are a caregiver remember to be realistic with what you can and cannot do. The person you are providing care for will still require their needs to be met. A solution is to get everyone to chip in. After all, it is the time of goodwill, thanksgiving, and giving. Have the grandkids rake leaves, set the dinner table, older guests can help with the heavier task, get extra chairs from the garage, and so on.
You may have to purchase precooked meals from your favorite restaurant. We here at home did a Walmart Thanksgiving meal kit...it was amazing and dinner was ready in about 90 minutes following the directions. Take a look at some places like Cracker Barrel which are advertising family meal orders. Use convenience to YOUR advantage!!
6. Accidents happen ( Don't Stress)
It's a very important time of year to check your fire alarms, extinguishers, and fill the first aid kit. With all those hands helping in the kitchen, a few glasses of wine, and kids running around, all make for a good recipe for an accident to happen. For safety reasons, YOU may have to be the master chef.
7. Practice good hand and respiratory hygiene
Although a lot of States have removed masking restrictions, encourage your friends and family to wash and sanitize their hands when handling food items. Require sensibility! If they are sick with respiratory symptoms, politely request them to stay home. (You'll send them a plate!)
Respiratory syncytial virus or RSV is high in young children some ending in intensive care. Coronaviruses, flu, and cold viruses are all increased during these winter months, especially with us all being together with more indoor activity and gatherings. Be vigilant and stay healthy!
8. Remember it's just another day
Despite all the activities and people around you, you may still feel emotionally empty and alone. You may be spending Thanksgiving on the couch alone. Maybe this is the first Thanksgiving without a loved one. You may be in a new country or state surrounded by well-meaning strangers.
Whatever the reason it is that you are alone, remember that there are others who are also experiencing alone couch time. You may not think it fortunate to be alone in your apartment. Let me show you the fortune...You have the TV all to yourself to watch football games or movies. Start Holiday gift projects, writing, and journaling. You can play music and have a party for one. No one disturbing your game. You can get dressed up and cook a gourmet meal for yourself. YOU DESERVE THE FINEST.
I've done that before...grilled lamb seasoned with rosemary and thyme, drizzled with olive oil,
sprinkled with salt and pepper. Paired with roasted potatoes and green beans. Served with a glass of Merlot. Table set for one with a movie of choice for entertainment. I even had enough food prepared (I do not know how to prepare small amounts) to prepare a plate to share with my neighbor and his wife.
Start a new holiday tradition and invite other newbies/couch timers over for a potluck dinner.
Seriously though if you begin to have unhealthy thoughts call a trusted person to come to stay with you to get you through this Thanksgiving day, remember it is just another day in a few hours it will be over.
Deb's 2-cent Turkey Wing advice...
The month of November can be beautiful, filled with laughter, good food, prayer, gratitude, and thankfulness. On the other hand, it can be one that you spend upset, tired, alone, sick, and or hospitalized.
During this time our focus is on planning, organizing, cleaning, cooking, and shopping, but it
must take a backseat as we first focus selfishly (in a good way) on ourselves, our own health, and our well-being. Creating mindful wellness moments I want you to be the "Belle of the Ball" looking poised and relaxed when the first guest arrives.
I hope you use these 8 tips as you prepare to embrace what could be an amazing Thanksgiving season. Remember the goal is for you to spend quality time with friends and family, or spend
quality time with yourself. What a gift!
Wishing you and your family, a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving celebration. May your home be filled with the bountiful laughter of friends, the sharing of food made with love, and you, able to enjoy it all.
~from me, Deb, and my family to you
Don't forget to leave a comment below, share, like
PS- If you are dealing with a life-threatening emergency like chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty speaking or difficulty moving arms and legs, or any signs of a stroke. Please call for help and head to the nearest emergency room immediately.