For a variety of reasons, Thanksgiving can be a very challenging time of year to keep you and your family healthy. For many, the Thanksgiving meal itself is a health buster. Fat, sugar, salt and big portions are some of the main offenders but it does not necessarily need to be that way. Here are 5 tips for preparing a healthier Turkey Day feast!
1. Healthy options
Although the Thanksgiving Day feast usually revolves the roasting turkey, many Americans are turning to healthier alternatives like fish or even vegan main dishes. At Whole Foods Market -Tamarac, Nicole at the Holiday Meals table can offer a wealth of advice on items you can buy and prepare yourself or that you can order as part of their holiday meal service. The Complete Meals menu includes a totally vegan option with Glazed Gardein fillets. Ask Sue Ann at the Prepared Foods counter for samples of vegan dishes if you have any doubts about how tasty they can be!
Even if the bird just has to stay on the menu, there are a veritable cornucopia of great vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or low sodium recipes for side dishes. Subscribe to this column for recipes to be published during the holiday season from local chefs and businesses.
2. Food order
The order in which foods are consumed is very important in many alternative health systems. Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, defines these rules most clearly. They can be a little complex but one easy to remember is this: Eat easily digested foods FIRST! That means fruits, soups, well cooked vegetables etc should come before salads, meats or raw vegetables. Eating fruit last means that it must remain in the stomach while the other food is digested which allows it to ferment. This is a good rule to follow if you don’t want Uncle Sal belching the alphabet after dinner!
3. Portion control
This is probably common sense but for most people it doesn’t happen on Thanksgiving. Using smaller plates, limiting trips to the buffet table or selecting one dessert instead of the “Sampler Platter” are easy ways to keep this under control.
4. Digestive Aids
Besides the aforementioned Uncle Sal, most people will benefit from some sort of natural digestive aid to prevent or remedy gas, bloating or any number of gastrointestinal ailments. Caraway, Pomegranate, Cumin, Long Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Hing Asafetida are all herbal aids to digestion. There are Ayurvedic teas and powders that contain some or all of these ingredients. Make sure to consult a qualified practitioner before using these as they can aggravate some energy imbalances. Papaya contains a digestive enzyme called papain that helps breakdown protein. Many stores sell it in a powder or capsule form.
Staying well hydrated in Denver is always a health necessity but it is even more vital when trying to digest a large meal. Foods high in salt and sugar are especially difficult to digest when the body is dehydrated.
Whole Foods Market – Tamarac
7400 E Hampden Avenue
Denver, CO 80231
*Special thanks to Nicole, Sue Ann and Tom at Whole Foods Market- Tamarac. Happy Thanksgiving!