“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus
Thanksgiving is a time where we emphasize gratitude more than at other times of the year, but it is best to consider being grateful at all times of the year. This talk by Robert Emmons explains how gratitude (and of recording gratitude in journals or some other form) can make us healthier in many areas of our lives.
Psychological – positive emotions
Physical – exercise more, take better care of their health, sleep better and longer
Social – feel more connected, feel more helpful, feel less alone
Watch the 10 minute video to learn about the benefits of gratitude, and then check out the resources below if you need some ideas on how to be more grateful.
Every year, people make New Year’s resolutions. The most popular ones are often gathered up and reported in lists, which is no surprise. However, this list of popular New Year’s resolutions from the US government surprised me because they also included links to resources related to each resolution.
For example, the resolution “Eat healthy food” is linked to the Choose My Plate website, which has food trackers, meal planning features, recipes, and tips on portion sizes, healthy eating, and exercise.
The list includes more than just health-related resolutions. “Volunteer to help others” is linked to the Serve.gov website by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which has a search tool to find volunteer opportunities, service project toolkits, tips for sharing information about your service project, and the ability to register projects on the site to recruit other people to help.
Leftover turkey is good for 4 days in the refrigerator. Here are recipes and tips to save money and reuse that leftover turkey (and other leftover foods) without getting food poisoning (also called food borne illness).
Eating leftovers is a great way to save money and is better than letting the food go to waste, but be careful to prevent yourself from getting food poisoning:
Keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius).
Label leftovers with the date they were made, so that you can keep track of how long they’ve been in the fridge.
Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius).
Use an app like Is My Food Safe? (free for Apple and Android) or Leftovers ($0.99 in iTunes app store). These apps tell you how long food is good for, what temperatures they need reach when cooking and reheating, and information on food poisoning. Is My Food Safe also has a kitchen safety quiz and an Ask an Expert feature.
How long do leftovers last in the refrigerator?
This is a general list. Please use your common sense and best judgement – “When in doubt, throw it out!” If it doesn’t look, smell, or taste like it did when you put it in the fridge, it may be a good idea to throw it away.
November is American Diabetes Month. It is also the month of Thanksgiving, which is known for food in abundance, especially food full of starchy carbohydrates.
What Thanksgiving foods have fewer carbohydrates? What recipes can be changed or substituted so people with diabetes don’t feel like they can only eat one bite of the rest of the family’s food?
The American Diabetes Association has a large list of free diabetes-friendly recipes for holidays and throughout the year. Another good sources of recipes is the USDA SNAP-Ed recipe finder (although these vary in carbohydrate content), and they even give information on cost (per recipe and per serving). I’ve pulled out a few examples here, with carbohydrates (in grams per serving). You can go to each recipe to find the rest of the nutrition information.
In general, carbohydrates are found in sweets and desserts; grains and grain-based foods (pastas, rice, bread, crackers, etc); beans, peas, and legumes; milk and yogurt; and fruits. Carbohydrates are not bad. We need them to survive. However, eating too many can be harmful, especially for a person with diabetes. The amount of carbohydrates we should eat depends on what we are doing and our own bodies. A dietitian (or other members of your diabetes healthcare team) can help you figure out how many carbohydrates you should eat.
Other tips for a healthy Thanksgiving
In addition to new recipes, people with diabetes (and everyone at the table) can practice moderation and mindful eating to help reduce the amount of carbohydrates (and calories and fat, etc) that they eat during the holidays.
Moderation means being aware of how much we eat, thinking about portion sizes, and eating slowly to allow our bodies to realize that we’re actually eating.
Mindful eating is being aware of and enjoying whatever we’re eating by thinking about how the food tastes, smells, and feels as we eat it.
It may also be helpful to eat a small snack an hour or two before you sit down for the Thanksgiving meal, to avoid excessive hunger and filling your plate with more food than you need. Snacks like cut vegetables, a small handful of nuts, or a piece of cheese are good choices.
One more tip to keep in mind: you can’t save up your carbohydrates and eat them all at once on Thanksgiving. Rollover minutes may work for cell phone plans, but there is no such thing as a rollover carbohydrates meal plan. You diabetes medical team should have told you an estimate of grams of carbohydrates per meal, or given you a number of carbohydrate exchanges per meal. Stick with this plan, even during Thanksgiving and other holiday meals.
If you need help figuring out how many carbohydrates you should eat each meal or want help with eating well with diabetes, including tips on portion sizes, meal planning, and eating out, you can use this Find a Registered Dietitian tool to find an RD near you.
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Halloween can be a time of fun parties and tasty treats, but it can also be a difficult time to maintain healthy behaviors. How do we protect the fun of Halloween without sacrificing our health?
Celebrate the good
Fitness: Halloween creates many opportunities for physical activity. Trick-or-treating (walking) and dancing at parties are two examples of physical activity that many enjoy. Many people also like participating in fun runs and marathons featuring prizes for the best costumes.
Food: In addition, pumpkins (and their seeds) are a great addition to the diet. They contain antioxidants, vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber.
Friends: Halloween provides plenty of chances to be social. Spending time with family and friends is also part of a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress and increasing self-worth (click to read more).
Make healthy tweaks
Making healthy choices doesn’t mean giving up all candy and passing out dental floss, as one dentist does in a funny TV commercial. You (and your children) can still enjoy candy and other treats in moderation.
Suggestions for candy
fruit snacks with 100% fruit juice
bite-size or mini candy bars
chocolate over sticky or hard candies (to reduce candy sticking to teeth)
wait until a few days before Halloween to buy your candy (so you aren’t tempted to eat them all yourself)
pick a number of candies you (or your children) will eat each day (to teach moderation)
eat a healthy snack before trick-or-treating or going to parties
donate (or participate in buyback programs) any extra or unwanted candy to organizations collecting for soldiers
Ideas in case you want to give treats other than candy (again, no dental floss)
Make sure your Halloween costumes allow free movement and full range of sight to avoid tripping. Observe small children to make sure they don’t choke on small toys or candy, and have them sit down while they enjoy any treats. Clear pathways for trick-or-treaters and party guests, and keep decorations from becoming fire hazards by putting candles away from flammable decorations and in areas where they are not likely to be knocked over. Use designated drivers or call a cab for any party guest that may have had too much to drink (Click here to see one serving of alcohol).
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Do something good for your heart and your taste buds this Valentine’s Day. These are some recipes from the American Heart Association that I thought you might like to have in case you’re planning a special dinner. (Disclaimer: haven’t tried these yet, but they look good.) Click the links to see the recipe and pictures on the American Heart Association websites.