How to Have a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

Thanksgiving 2020 is going to be unlike any other. In fact, that seems to be the trend this year. It’s a time of changes and new challenges. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving! This blog post will go over healthy Thanksgiving tips as well as Thanksgiving advice during a pandemic.

I love celebrating the holidays as much as anyone else. Good food gathered around the table with friends and family - what more could you ask for? This year, especially, we’ve seen how important it is to get back to the basics of life. We’ve all gone through something hard this year, which means there’s never a better time than now to practice thankfulness. That’s all well and fine you may say, but how can we have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving amidst this tumultuous time? Let’s talk about it...

Thanksgiving 2020

In a few weeks it will be Thanksgiving! One of my favorite holidays for a lot of reasons, but mainly because ya girl is a foodie. I love food and particularly traditional American food. Even as I drool over the mouthwatering green bean casserole and pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving comes with a lot of concerns. From overeating to family expectations, it can be a stressful holiday. Add that on top of a year of social distancing, illness, and political strife and you’ve got a doozy of a Thanksgiving.

Common Concerns During Thanksgiving

Let’s discuss the common concerns during Thanksgiving in a normal year. What are the regular impediments to a happy, healthy holiday?

  1. Stress

  2. Not preparing enough food

  3. Being a host

  4. Family drama

  5. Over-eating

  6. Traveling

  7. Alcohol overconsumption

Thanksgiving Concerns during Covid

Obviously, this year presents new challenges. Traveling and seeing elderly or at-risk family members is high on the list. The mainstream media is pushing people to say “no” to thanksgiving. As an alternative to saying no, they offer absurd solutions. In an article by CNN, the reporter even goes as far as to say you should ask your family members pointed questions similar to, “the same kind of interview someone might give a new sexual partner.”

I’m sorry, but no.

While the risk of spreading Covid exists, there are better ways to have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving than to interrogate your family.

Manage Your Stress Levels

The first step to having a peaceful Thanksgiving 2020 is to manage your stress levels. There are so many reasons this could be a stressful season for you: family tragedy, time commitments, financial pressure. Those are only a few.

Here is a list of several ways you can take control of Thanksgiving and your stress:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings exist.

  2. Reach out and share your feelings with someone you trust.

  3. Learn that it’s okay to say no.

  4. Be realistic about your expectations.

  5. Learn that you don’t always have to be right (even when you are).

  6. Stick to a budget and plan ahead.

  7. Don’t be afraid to take a breather.

  8. Don’t throw out all your past healthy habits.

The book by Allie Beth Stuckey called “You’re not enough (and that’s okay)” is a great read if you struggle with letting your feelings control your actions and emotions. Personally, my hand is definitely raised here. I highly recommend this book!

How to Have a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving

As a matter of fact, my family’s own Thanksgiving is going to look a little different this year too. Since my husband is in the Navy we don’t get much time off. We are going to take advantage of this time to go look at a piece of land we are considering buying down in Florida. Your Thanksgiving might also look different this year. While you may be saying “no” to big family gatherings, there’s no reason to say “no” to Thanksgiving as a whole.

No matter who is celebrating with you, there are ways to have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving in 2020.

Get Lots of Sleep

Like any big day, you’ll want to get a lot of sleep the night before. In addition to managing stress levels, sleep is a key component of staying healthy. Don’t feel sluggish or tired because you were awake all night thinking about the future.

Eat Breakfast

Unless you regularly skip breakfast as part of your diet, you should eat breakfast. It’s not wise to skip a meal just to “save calories” for the next one. You often end up over-indulging because you’re so hungry (trust me, I’ve done this myself).

Plan a Family Activity

Staying active is a great way to have a healthy Thanksgiving. You can even make it a new tradition in your family! For example, when I was growing up my family loved to come out and watch me run the turkey trot. While they didn’t all race, they all got exercise by walking and cheering.

There may not be any official Turkey Trots this year, but that doesn’t have to stop you from getting outside and moving!

Cook Healthier Recipes

There are so many Thanksgiving nutrition tips on the internet these days. While Grandma’s recipes are probably delicious, they may not be the healthiest. Try looking for healthy alternatives to some of your favorites.

Get Everyone Involved in Cooking

Whether you opt to have a big family gathering or keep it simple with your immediate family, get everyone involved in the cooking. This could look like assigning family members one dish to bring. Or, take a step back from the kitchen and delegate the cooking rather than control it. Whatever you choose, find a way to take some of the stress of doing everything off your own shoulders.

Enjoy the Day

Don’t forget to enjoy the day! It’s a day to be grateful so practice gratitude. We can have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving in 2020. We are a resilient nation that values family and freedom, so let’s all enjoy this holiday season, in spite of the difficulties. Drop me a line, what’s one way you are enjoying Thanksgiving this year?

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I'm Audrey,


I'm a former collegiate athlete turned content writer - I help health & wellness brands grow their community by writing content copy. Blend up a smoothie and sit a while to read my tips and tricks on business, writing, and life in general!

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