Enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings is one of the highlights of the holiday season. It’s also a great time to audition some health-conscious and cancer-preventative alternatives and activities that may just become a family tradition.
Here’s our list of 7 ways to incorporate cancer prevention into your Thanksgiving (and beyond!):
1. Get outdoors! Grab your coat and your family and head outside for some fresh air and exercise. Getting regular exercise can help stave off extra weight and obesity, conditions that contribute to several types of cancer including colorectal, thyroid, pancreatic, and gallbladder. In Nevada, that could mean a hike at Red Rock Canyon, a brisk walk along the Truckee River, a game of touch football at the local park, or a bike ride on a nearby trail.
2. Snack on brightly colored veggies. Another great way to keep the pounds off during the holidays, crisp fresh veggies including carrots, bell peppers, celery, and cherry tomatoes are a flavorful substitute for the starchy or fatty afternoon snacks that may be more traditional. Serve them up with hummus dip for extra protein and even more flavor.
3. Add even more brightly colored veggies into your Thanksgiving meal. A higher intake of vegetables high in vitamins such as A, C and E, folate, carotenoids and minerals can reduce the risk of many cancers. Try mashed sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts or cauliflower, arugula salad, or sautéed kale to add a nutritional punch.
4. Skip the canned food and go fresh. A study by researchers from the Breast Cancer Fund found that levels of BPA in some canned foods can lead to adverse health effects, including breast and prostate cancer. Try fresh green beans or corn, use fresh cranberries for homemade cranberry sauce, and make this the year you master that turkey gravy from scratch.
5. Look for substitutions in beloved recipes. Candied yams are a favorite around the holidays, but lots of butter and refined sugar can add pounds. Ditto for the mashed potatoes. Try 100% fruit juice or honey as a sweetener, and try more spices and seasonings to add flavor rather than using fats. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and anise are great for sweet dishes. Bring in garlic, thyme, rosemary and sage for savory bites.
6. Talk about your health. As you gather to say thanks and enjoy a meal with friends and family, bring health into the conversation. Have each person set a health goal to work towards now and beat the New Year’s rush. Or, use the holiday as a reminder to schedule preventive screenings such as a mammogram, colonoscopy, Pap test or PSA test.
7. Punch up your pie. Just because its dessert doesn’t mean you can’t add nutrition. Sneak some fiber into your pumpkin pie by using whole wheat flour for the crust or adding a fiber supplement, such as Benefiber, to the pumpkin mix. Oven baked apples, sprinkled with spices and nuts, make a great dessert with less added sugar.