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How the annual Thanksgiving celebration in America impacts your Health and Lifestyle

How the annual Thanksgiving celebration in America impacts your Health and Lifestyle

For Americans as well as for many other nations around the world, Thanksgiving is not just another holiday on the calendar: it’s the time for reflection and gratitude. Going beyond the historical tradition of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest, many Americans now celebrate Thanksgiving with a feast of indulgence and companionship.

However, these festivities can, sometimes, have notable implications on your health and lifestyle. The impact of these celebrations can come in many layers, affecting your digestive health, emotional well-being, and dietary choices. In today’s blog post, we take a closer look at how Thanksgiving can affect your health and lifestyle.

1) You might put on a few extra pounds during this time.

If there’s one thing you can’t avoid at Thanksgiving—it’s food. Thanksgiving features a variety of lavish dishes including Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy. This main meal is accompanied by an array of desserts that most often turn out to be deliciously rich pies. These foods are obviously high in calories: in fact, it is estimated that an average American consumes around 3000-4500 calories during their Thanksgiving meals [1].

These excess calories can get deposited as extra pounds unless you burn them off. Research suggests you can gain around one pound during these holidays [2]. Although it doesn’t seem significant, these pounds can easily pile up and make you gain weight if you don’t pay close attention.

2) You can easily go overboard with food during this time.

Let’s admit: Thanksgiving spread is pretty hard to resist. Plus, you’re in holiday spirits, making you relax your usual boundaries and let yourself overindulge a bit—or a lot! To make matters worse, Thanksgiving meals are often high in fat and sugar which will probably give you indigestion and make you bloated.

Pro tip: Savor every dish, but be mindful of the portion sizes. That way you can enjoy every Thanksgiving special without getting over-stuffed.

Thanksgiving Food

3) Thanksgiving might interrupt your sleeping patterns.

Thanksgiving celebrations often extend way into midnight, affecting your sleep patterns. Digestive issues following overeating can also make you uncomfortable, thus making it hard for you to fall asleep. You might also have to travel cross-country to visit your family, which will make you jetlagged. These factors will mess with your sleep, impacting the quality and duration of your rest.

In addition, studies found that people who host Thanksgiving events are prone to lose 51 minutes of sleep over this holiday! [3]

Avoid overeating and limit stimulants like caffeine during the day to ensure a good night’s rest. Also, create a comfortable sleep environment and take some measures to manage your stress to promote better quality sleep.

4) Thanksgiving can make you stressed out.

Thanksgiving is, of course, a time for family and friends to come together, strengthening bonds and creating lasting memories. However, for some, navigating family dynamics and social situations can be challenging. If you are someone who prefers solitude over company, Thanksgiving might trigger a lot of stress and can be extremely emotionally taxing. In fact, stress and anxiety are pointed out as two main reasons that can disrupt your sleep during Thanksgiving [3]. Stress can also trigger emotional eating, which will make you gain more pounds during the holidays.

Lean on supportive family members or friends if you're feeling overwhelmed. Also, consider incorporating stress-busting practices like deep breathing, meditation, or a post-dinner stroll.

5) Your alcohol intake might go overboard.

Thanksgiving, being a time of celebration and gratitude, often involves the consumption of alcohol as part of the festivities. While moderate alcohol consumption can be a social and cultural norm during this holiday, you need to be mindful of your limits. Keep in mind that uncontrolled drinking can lead to a range of health, safety, and social problems.

The safe limit recommended by the CDC is up to 2 drinks a day for men and up to 1 drink per day for women [4]. Make sure you stick to these guidelines to make Thanksgiving a memorable experience and to keep health issues at bay.  While exceeding these limits once in a while probably won’t cause much damage, there’s always the risk of things escalating out of hand when it comes to alcohol.

In conclusion, while Thanksgiving is a time of joy, gratitude, and togetherness, it's important to be mindful of its potential impact on health and lifestyle. Finding a way to indulge in moderation, and prioritizing emotional well-being can help you enjoy this holiday season while preserving your overall health.

 

References

[1]         “How Many Calories Are in Thanksgiving Dinner? - Consumer Reports.” https://www.consumerreports.org/diet-nutrition/calories-in-your-thanksgiving-dinner/

[2]         “A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain - PMC.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4336296/

[3]         “We Lose 11 Minutes of Sleep Each Thanksgiving | Sleep Foundation.” https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/how-much-sleep-do-we-lose-on-thanksgiving

[4]         “Facts about moderate drinking | CDC.” https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm

 

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