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Family & Relationships

7 Healthy Traditions to Consider Adding to the Mix This Thanksgiving

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"Thanksgiving" and “tradition” go hand-in-hand.

This year, think beyond the plates piled high with delicious turkey, mashed potatoes and heavenly pie and bring some new, healthy traditions into your holiday.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Get moving. Choose an activity that your family will enjoy. Maybe it’s an organized race in the morning, throwing the frisbee around in the afternoon or taking a long, meandering walk after dinner. Whatever you do, choose something that will get you off the couch and help ward off the tryptophan-induced nap. Being active is a fun way to spend time together, and you may all feel better for it!

Cook dinner as a family. Don’t leave all of the meal prep to mom or grandma. Everyone can pitch in and help. Someone in the family can act as the point person and assign courses (appetizers, dessert, side dish, etc.) to other family members. And don't forget to appoint someone as the dishwasher! This way, the meal will be a true family affair.

Do something for others. Whether it’s on Thanksgiving Day or a day leading up to the holiday, choose a giving activity that your family can do. Maybe it’s serving food at a soup kitchen, volunteering with a shelter, writing cards to send military members overseas, walking dogs at the local shelter, raising money for a shared cause or dropping off cookies you made together at a senior center. Thanksgiving is about gratitude, and helping others has a way of reminding you of the good things in your own life.

Try a new recipe. Turkey and mashed potatoes may be a given, but adding something new to the mix is always fun! This year, pick a healthy side dish to try out (right now, we’re loving roasted butternut squash with lentils and goat cheese; and we also can’t get enough mashed cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes). It’ll be a surprise for the family, and offer an unexpected and nutritious option to build a balanced plate.

Play the gratitude game. A few days before Thanksgiving, let your guests know that you’d like everyone to write down three things that they’re grateful for this year. That will give them time to really think about the question and reflect on the answer. Before dinner begins, go around the table so that everyone can share. Then, place the written notes in a binder or box. Every year, you can look back on the notes and keep adding to them.

Host a potluck and open your doors to people who don’t have a place to go. The holidays can also be a tough time for many people. If you know of friends or family members who struggle on Thanksgiving, invite them over for a potluck. The mix of people is bound to bring about new connections and interesting conversations, enriching the holiday for all. 

Share family stories. Go around the table and ask older friends and family members about Thanksgiving traditions they had when they were growing up. Did they have a favorite food? Who did the cooking? Did they do any family activities? Maybe this tradition will uncover yet another new tradition to add to the mix.

Thanksgiving traditions don’t just happen. They are tried and true practices that resonate with all involved, and make memories for years to come. Open your heart and mind and try something new this year. Who knows? It could become a tradition passed down for generations to come.

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