It's time to talk turkey ... and gravy and dressing and sweet potatoes, oh, my! It is also time to remember the true intention of this Thanksgiving holiday -- a day to give thanks.
Whether we view it as a cliche or a commandment, "Give thanks" is pretty good advice. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, being grateful not only makes us happier but it can make us healthier as well.
When we recognize and appreciate life's value and meaning -- often from sources outside of ourselves -- our overall wellbeing improves. In fact, research reported in Psychology Today links gratitude with reduced stress and sadness, better sleep and increased motivation and energy.
I'm for that. So, along with our family tradition of sharing one thing for which we are thankful before we dive into our Thanksgiving feast, I'm grateful for these facets of my life:
For old friends and new (you know who you are) who share this holiday with me, whether in person or in spirit;
For turkey farmers who produce one of America's leanest protein foods. Three cooked ounces of turkey breast -- besides going well with stuffing and sweet potatoes -- provides 26 grams of complete protein (meaning it has all the amino acids we need to build robust muscles and a strong immune system). All this with negligible amounts of sodium and saturated fat reminds me to take it easy on the gravy;
For our military men and women who are away from home and family this holiday so that we can enjoy home and families in the security of this country;
For my daughter's homemade pies that remind me to eat a little less dinner so I have room for "just a sliver."
For the National Turkey Federation (www.eaturkey.com) that tells me what I need to know about roasting my holiday turkey.
The first Thanksgiving occurred after a grueling winter that claimed the lives of half the Pilgrims who had come to this country. Those who survived took the time and energy to prepare a harvest meal and give thanks for what they had. On that first Thanksgiving in 1623, Plymouth Governor William Bradford proclaimed:
"Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has spared us from pestilence and disease and has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience,
"I do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill ... to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."
Ah ... that we would serve up more praise than pie this week ... and remember from Whom all blessings flow. Have a great Thanksgiving.
(Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She is the author of "Quinn-Essential Nutrition" (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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