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Give thanks you don’t have to loosen your belt

Once upon a time, a persecuted religious minority traveled half way around to world to start their lives anew, and exercise their religious freedom.  They founded a new colony in a new world.

The first winter was harsh, and many of the people died.  In fact, they would all have died had the local inhabitants not helped them, and later taught them how to farm the land.  After the next harvest, they all got together to eat turkey, celebrate their friendship, and to express gratitude for all their blessings.

Thanksgiving has been celebrated in America ever since.

Ok, so that’s not how it actually happened.  The causes of the Pilgrims’ migration and initial hardships were much more complex.  The solution was more complex.  That first Thanksgiving wasn’t for a few years after they had landed.  And the Thanksgiving holiday was only instituted in 1863 by President Lincoln.

Oh, and they didn’t eat turkey, either.

But regardless of the what may or may not have happened over the last several hundred years, Thanksgiving is always a time we can look forward to spending with family and friends, while gorging ourselves on some really good food.

But look out for that tryptophan.  It’s the chemical in turkey which makes you drowsy, and causes you to fall asleep during the football game.

Ok, that’s a myth, too.

The reason you get drowsy is because you just ate a week’s worth of food in one sitting.  It’s a food coma.

You also undid a week’s worth of workouts.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.  You can enjoy your Thanksgiving meal without eating enough calories to feed a starving pride of lions.

Our nutrition specialist, Kelly Sherman, has a few tips.

First, and most important, is portion control.

You want to try a little everything.  And that’s ok.  If it really is a little.

For a normal dinner, most people have a main dish, and one or two sides.  So, you take a certain amount of each dish.

But at Thanksgiving, most households serve up to two or three main dishes, and often more than a half-dozen sides.

If you want to taste everything, you just can’t have as much of each dish as you would at a normal dinner.  Remember, eating smaller portions means you can have more variety without overdoing it.

We know, it’s very easy to tell you to control your portions than it is to actually do it.  So, let’s talk about some specific strategies to help you have a healthier Thanksgiving.

1)      When you first arrive at your dear old Aunt May’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, don’t go straight for the crackers and cookies she’s set out.  Find the veggie tray.  Munch off that for a while, and forego the snacks.  This will begin to start satisfying your hunger, with a much healthier option.

2)      Focus on veggies and protein to eat healthier.  You don’t need to stuff your face with dinner rolls and turkey stuffing.  They don’t have as much nutritional value, and are mostly empty calories.

3)      When considering what to bring, bring something you are comfortable eating.  If you know everyone else is bringing the not-so-healthy stuff, bring something a little better for everyone.  By doing this, you not only help yourself, but you can help everyone else eat healthier, too.

4)      What to bring?  How about some colorful vegetables, or pineapple?  Maybe instead of mashed potatoes drenched in butter, you can bring some white sweet potatoes.  Or think about this: you can put cauliflower in a blender, and mix it in with your mashed potatoes.  No one will know the difference, but they will be eating a much healthier dish.

5)      Make your own cranberry sauce.  You can find a recipe online, but it’s as simple as putting some cranberries in water and boiling it.

6)      Instead of sour cream, use plain yogurt.  It tastes almost the same, with much more nutritional value.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to undo all your hard work by eating a week’s worth of calories in one day.

With a little foresight and a little discipline, you can wake up the next day, and be thankful you still fit in your jeans.

We wish you good health,

Columbia Basin Racquet Club

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