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  • Writer's pictureRobin Rhine McDonald

5 Ways to Give Thanksgiving a Healthy Upgrade

First, can I just say - I'm a MAJOR fan of Thanksgiving. It's a VERY close second to Christmas as my favorite holiday. I absolutely love the classic Thanksgiving dishes - turkey, stuffing, biscuits, pumpkin pie, all of it.

One thing I coach my clients on is how to enjoy those foods while remaining in alignment with their vision for their health.

What I am going to offer you in this blog are a few ways to enjoy your classic favorites with some minor adjustments that maintain taste, decrease toxins, and increase health! Here are 5 ways to upgrade your Thanksgiving meal!

1. Choose quality ingredients

Even if you follow your recipes exactly as they are, but choose for organic ingredients instead of conventional, you'll be making a major difference in the health of your meal.

Non organic produce contain harmful pesticides and herbicides. Often times they are GMO crops. These undesirable characteristics of non-organic fruits and vegetables cause inflammation, harm to your gut, and have been associated with increased cancer risk. Choose organic as much as possible. There are some fruits and vegetables that aren't organic that have minimal pesticides & herbicides that can be a good option when organic is tough to find or too pricey. Additionally, there are 12 foods that you pretty much never want to get non-organic because they contain the highest levels of pesticides and herbicides. Check out the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen to see which foods these are.

When it comes to meat, there are a few tiers of quality to choose from.

In general, your best option for meat is organic grass fed for beef or pasture raised for chicken and pork. These animals are fed the diet they are meant to eat. Cows eat grass, not GMO corn. Chickens are omnivores. They eat bugs and plants. When egg, chicken, or pork labels say "vegetarian fed", that means that they actually didn't eat their natural diet. Pigs are omnivores as well.

The next best option is just organic. This means that the feed the animals were given is organic.

After organic, is to get meat that says "no antibiotics" and "no hormones". These labels are sometimes tricky. You'll see "no hormones" for chicken and pork and not "no antibiotics". It is illegal to give chicken or pigs hormones, so the label is making it seem better, when really, that was never an option.

It's a big commitment to get all quality ingredients. Start small. Choose a few things you want to do with quality ingredients. Whatever works best for you, your family, and the budget you're working with!

2. Make healthy versions of your favorites

Another way to upgrade the health of your Thanksgiving is to look for "Paleo" versions of the classics you already make. There are great options for Paleo stuffing, Paleo pumpkin pie, and even Paleo mac and cheese.

Check out my Thanksgiving meal guide for ideas!

3. Add vegetable dishes to the menu

You could have all your usual things and then just throw in a few extra vegetable dishes. Having more vegetables at your meal only increases the nutrients your getting, and it decreases your chances of overeating on less healthy options.

4. Exercise the day of Thanksgiving

This recommendation isn't about burning enough calories to then eat a ton of food. That is often the motivation for exercise on Thanksgiving. Rather, this is about being in a mindset of health and serving your body.

If you exercise because it's good for you, and you experience the satisfaction of a good sweat, you're more likely to continue to want to make choices that serve your body.

Again, this doesn't mean you don't have a slice or two of pie. What this means is that you don't eat the whole pie.

Even if it's just a 20 minute walk, this is a great way to start a feasting day!

5. Enjoy without guilt

How you feel about what you ate can often be its own health detriment. However the big day goes, give yourself permission to eat freely. Own your choices. Learn from them. Get back on track the next day!

Be sure to check out my Thanksgiving meal guide above for tips on recipes, but also on how to have a healthy, self-loving mindset during your Thanksgiving meal!

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