Yes, Thanksgiving can be warm, fuzzy, and fabulous. But veer off the self-care rails, and it’s a landmine. Calorie-bloat, oven burns, family-related stresses—throw in some politics, and things could get real this year. If something really goes wrong, rest assured that Solv has you covered with same-day doctor’s appointments. But for now, here are our top five Thanksgiving 2021 survival tips.
1. Be responsible with COVID-19
We are not going to harp on it—you can get that everywhere else—but the most important thing you can do this year is stay safe and be responsible with COVID-19. Whether you are celebrating with a small group of family and friends, or with a larger gathering, be smart:
- Get your COVID-19 vaccine booster, if eligible, and schedule vaccines for your kids 5 and older
- Wear a mask whenever appropriate, especially in public indoor spaces and when traveling
- Practice social distancing
- Celebrate outdoors whenever possible, or open a window for better airflow
- Isolate yourself if you’re experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms
- Be mindful of others’ personal space
- And ideally, get a COVID test before Thanksgiving so you don’t accidentally spread it to others
2. No excuses: Get in your morning cardio
Is there a Lady Gaga anthem-themed spin class in your zip code? A hip hop Power Vinyasa Morning Flow? Some sort of running event with “Turkey” in the title? Anything that’s going to make you sweat, sign up for it now. If you commit, you’ll be more likely to go. Solid morning cardio will not only offset the pumpkin pie, it’s an essential stress-reducer and mood equalizer before the frenzy begins.
3. Make (and stick to) a healthy-eating game-plan
If you’re one of those people who gasps at the Chipotle menu calorie counts, brace yourself—the average American eats over 3,000 calories for Thanksgiving dinner alone (and a lot more when you count snacking). Some strategies to rein it in:
- Make healthy dishes. Check Pinterest or your favorite magazine for inspiration and recipes.
- Don’t fast all day. Have a light snack an hour before the meal. Being famished leads to overeating.
- Load your plate up with veggies first.
- Skip the turkey wings with skin (256 calories per serving) and instead go for the lighter meat with no skin (158 calories per serving)
- Chew slowly and savor your bites (or if you really want to get hard core, count them). This is especially true with easy-to-shovel mashed potatoes (237 calories a cup)
- If you’re hosting, go buffet-style. If food is within grabbable reach on the table, you’ll tend to eat more of it
- Go easy on cranberry sauce (the canned kind can have 440 calories a cup) and sausage stuffing (445 calories a cup)
- In the pie department, opt for pumpkin (316 calories a slice), not pecan (503 calories a slice)
4. Control Your Stress: Keep charged discussions at bay
Political emotions are still high from the 2020 election. But if you want to emerge from Thanksgiving dinner unscathed this year, it’s probably best to avoid political arguments. Because here’s the thing—it’s unlikely you’re going to change Uncle Ed’s opinion on the President as you’re scooping him brussel sprouts. And if things escalate, so will your stress and cortisol levels—which is never great for your overall well being (or family harmony). The safest bet is to stick to neutral topics—things like your best work from home stories, y, your winter vegetable garden, the new Taylor Swift album, or how funny the kids are acting.
If it’s typically hard for you to hold your tongue, try doing some mindfulness meditation beforehand. Studies have shown that it can help decrease our reactivity. And if things do end up getting heated, employ a tried and true political tactic—the pivot. “I’ll tell you what’s going to Make America Great Again, these mashed potatoes.”
5. Don’t get burned: Be careful in the kitchen
There will be a lot of cooks in the kitchen, so everyone needs to be especially mindful with the oven, open flames, hot pots and pans, and scalding water. It’s best to go slow—frenzied cooking is a recipe for a trip to urgent care. Here are a few other tips for avoiding burns:
- Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that could catch on fire
- Turn pot handles toward the back or center of the stove.
- Keep dish towels, plastic bags, and long sleeves away from the heating surface.
- Keep the kids and pets away from the front of the oven or stove.
If, despite your best efforts, someone gets a minor burn, treat it with running cold water (no butter or margarine—that can trap heat underneath), a clean bandage, aloe vera, and over the counter pain medication. If it’s something you’re worried about, it’s best to go to urgent care (luckily, it’s easy to make a quick appointment with Solv). For major burns, call 911 for emergency help.
6. Don’t food poison your family: Cook the turkey carefully!
In the realm of Thanksgiving bummers, food poisoning takes the cake. If you’re a guest, stay away from anything that looks iffy, especially undercooked turkey, which can be rife with Salmonella. If you’re hosting, follow these turkey preparation safety tips:
- Avoid cross contamination—i.e., wash hands that have touched raw food immediately
- Never thaw a frozen turkey on the counter—it’ll thaw from the outside in, which can lead to multiplying bacteria as the surface warms.
- Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator (which can take 3-7 days), in its original wrapper in a sink of cold water (that’s changed every 30 minutes), or in the microwave
- Never wash your turkey out of the wrapper—splashes can spread bacteria and contaminate your kitchen
- If you’re stuffing your turkey, make sure the stuffing center reaches 165°F. Bacteria can survive in temps lower than that.
- Turkey should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F as well (check the innermost part of the thigh, the wing, and thickest part of the breast)
We hope everyone has a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Follow these tips, and you’ll wake up on Black Friday ready to take on the hordes at Macy’s —or simply relax on the couch feeling your best.