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Enjoy Thanksgiving without raising risks of Diabetes

Tennessee Department of Health Shares Healthy Holiday Cooking, Eating Tips

Tennessee Department of HealthNashville, TN – If your Thanksgiving plans include lifting weights for 10 hours or going for a seven-hour run after dinner, enjoy your meal without worries. That’s how much activity it takes to burn the 4,000 calories many will consume as they work their way through turkey with all the trimmings.

But if you plan to linger around the table and take a nap or spend time on the sofa after eating, your future might hold glucose meters and insulin injections, both part of life for Tennessee’s growing number of individuals with diabetes. While blood sugar testing and shots may not seem too difficult to handle, blindness, kidney failure and loss of limbs are the serious consequences for some who develop diabetes.

“Our Thanksgiving traditions are based on a time when feasting was a rare opportunity for celebration and a ritual that helped people survive the winter months. But now a heavy meal is a daily possibility for many, and most of us need to rethink if we can celebrate our wonderful time together by, say, taking a walk and making better food choices instead of encouraging overeating to the point of harm,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “As we face an epidemic of obesity and overweight and the numerous health problems that result, take time this Thanksgiving to reflect on our blessings of bounty and consider new traditions that can help keep loved ones healthy and active for a truly bountiful life.”

The Tennessee Department of Health offers the following suggestions for healthier cooking and eating at Thanksgiving.

For Cooks

  • Trim the amount of sugar and fat in recipes and reduce use of oil and butter whenever you can. Most diners won’t notice the difference.
  • Substitute plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in dip and casserole recipes.
  • Use fat-free chicken broth to baste your turkey.
  • Consider artificial sweeteners and desserts with lower sugar levels, such as pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie.
  • Think about steamed, roasted or sautéed green beans instead of green bean casserole.

For Diners

  • Eat breakfast. Having a small meal in the morning with protein and fiber may give you more control over your appetite throughout the day.
  • Scout the table and don’t waste calories on foods you eat every day. Choose holiday selections you don’t often get.
  • Avoid large portions of potatoes, dressing, gravy and bread.
  • White turkey meat is lower in calories than dark.
  • Resist the temptation to have seconds or to encourage others to “go back and have some more.”
  • Drink lots of water before and as you eat. It helps fill your stomach.

“With approximately two-thirds of Tennesseans either overweight or obese, we can no longer regard Thanksgiving as a day when it’s okay to pile our plates high with food,” said Melissa Blair, TDH deputy director of Family Health and Wellness. “We’re seeing an epidemic of failing knees and ankles, heart problems, breathing difficulties and diabetes, and many of these problems are caused by overeating. This Thanksgiving could be the start of a new life for many with just a little effort to be more thoughtful in the kitchen and in the dining room.”

For additional tips on preparing healthier meals, eating wisely or recognizing the signs of diabetes, visit the TDH website at http://health.state.tn.us/nutrition/index.htm and the TDH Cookbook with easy, low cost, healthy recipes at http://health.state.tn.us/nutrition/recipes.html.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.


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