Thanksgiving Is More Than Just Food (courtesy of

Thanksgiving Is More Than Just Food (courtesy of

Many of us focus on the Thanksgiving dishes that we love and take us back to memorable times when we were younger. Sure, that is part of Thanksgiving. However, Thanksgiving is more than just about food.

Thanksgiving Past and Present

A bit of how Thanksgiving began: in 1621, the pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving feast that came over on the Mayflower and the Indians in Plymouth, Massachusetts. After the pilgrims endured the challenging 66-day trip across the Atlantic Ocean, they were befriended by the Native Americans. The Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to plant and harvest crops and how to fish and hunt. The pilgrims had much to be thankful for.

So, what does this have to do with us currently? The pilgrims gave thanks to the many people that had helped them, became a part of their lives, and taught them valuable life lessons. You probably have the same thing. You have people in your life such as family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors that have done the same for you and made an impact for you.

Thanksgiving is much more than lots of food. Sure, that’s part of it but think out of the box to make your Thanksgiving Special and Memorable. Check out the meaningful ways to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Is More Than Just About Food

Check out these ways to make your Thanksgiving special and memorable

Movies. Watch Thanksgiving-related movies.

Share Gratitude. Ask your Thanksgiving guests to write down on small pieces of paper what they are grateful for and share.

Sharing is Caring. Ask your guests to share something that happened this year that was special to them.

Volunteer to Deliver Food to People that Aren’t Able to Get Out. A place to consider is Meals On Wheels.

Thank You. Write thank you notes to first responders in your area. (Adding a plate of goodies wouldn’t hurt either.)

Be Active and Have Fun. Participate in a Turkey Trot in your area.

Make a Donation to Your Local Food Bank. You can make it a fun group activity. Take your family, kids, and friends to the grocery store to buy non-perishable items. Put your items in a basket or box, write a note, and ring the doorbell.

Gratitude Chains. Paper chains aren’t just for kids. Cut out thin strips of colorful paper and ask friends and family to write something on the strips they are grateful for. Tape or staple each strip into a loop, interlocking with the next paper loop until you have a beautiful chain. Use the paper chain to decorate the table or hang it over the door for a beautiful reminder of all your blessings.

Light Gratitude Candles. Use this simple object lesson to show how gratitude is most beautiful when it’s shared! Dim the room and hand out a small candle to each person at the Thanksgiving table. Start by saying something you are grateful for while you light your candle. The person next to you then shares what they are grateful for and lights their candle from yours. Eventually, the room is lit up with happy thoughts.

Play Games. Start a tradition of playing board games, trivia, card games, or play Charades.

Organize a Friendsgiving Get-Together. Start an annual “Friendsgiving” by inviting friends who also aren’t celebrating with family. Sometimes the best family is the one you create!

Thanksgiving Quotes

Always have an attitude of gratitude.” – Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.” – Robert Caspar Lintner

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.” – Gerald Good

Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.” – Catherine Pulsifer

“I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy.” – Will Arnett

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” – Randy Pausch

Be Happy!

One of the keys to being happy is to focus on the good things in your life. People that are happy and content in their lives tend to take better care of themselves, make healthy food choices, exercise and move more, and enjoy the relationships they share with others.

Take-Aways that Thanksgiving Is More Than Just Food

Embrace the gratitude for your health and wellness! Celebrate Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to you from the ObesityHelp team! Thank you for being a member of the ObesityHelp Community, part of our social media community, visiting the website, and sharing your experiences and support.

Thanksgiving is one day of the year, but you can celebrate your thankfulness and gratitude 365 days a year.

A Bariatric-Friendly Thanksgiving

A Bariatric-Friendly Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is arguably the biggest food holiday in this country. People are encouraged to eat to the point of needing to sleep. How do you enjoy the holiday after surgery when your relationship with food has changed?

First of all, food doesn’t need to be everything. Enjoy time with family and friends with non-food activities. Participate in a “turkey trot” walk or jog. Turn up the music and dance with your kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews. Pull out the board games. Watch old family videos. There are lots of ways to spend your day without the focus on food. But eventually, you will be seated around the table for the big meal.

Turkey – Enjoy this protein-based food! Each ounce of turkey has 7 grams of protein and even the dark meat is relatively low in fat. The dark meat (legs, wings, and thighs) is more moist than the light meat so you may tolerate the dark meat best. Keep the skin on the turkey while it’s cooking to lock in the moisture. If you deep-fry or pan-fry your turkey, avoid eating the skin soaks up the oil and may feel too greasy for your stomach.

Gravy – Gravy is a condiment. Just like salad dressings, you can put some on the side and dip each bite of turkey into it. If you are sensitive to high-fat foods, gravy will likely be too rich for your stomach. Trader Joe’s makes boxed turkey gravy that is low in fat and still has good flavor.

Potatoes – The nutrition profile really changes based on how your potatoes are prepared – mashed, baked, roasted, twice-baked. Potatoes are a starchy vegetable and they contain many nutrients in their skins. Sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A, which is how they get their orange color, but they are still a starchy vegetable. Because of their dense, starchy texture, they may feel heavy in your stomach. You can slim down mashed potatoes by using skim milk or plain Greek yogurt to add creaminess in place of butter or cream. You can also swap cauliflower in place of potatoes for a dish lower in calories and carbohydrates that feels lighter on your stomach.

Stuffing – This staple of the Thanksgiving plate might not feel good in your stomach since it is bread-based. Bread products tend to swell up in the stomach and make you feel uncomfortably full. You can try a small amount of the real deal or experiment with reducing the bread and adding more vegetables. Eggplant, butternut squash, mushrooms, and chickpeas can add bulk to a stuffing in place of bread.

Green Beans – The casserole version with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions will likely be too rich for your stomach. How about roasting your green beans and topping with good quality Parmesan cheese? Or sautéing with some garlic and olive oil? These are great cooking methods for any Thanksgiving vegetable including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and carrots.

Dessert – Sweet foods can be as problematic for the stomach as high-fat foods. They can cause dumping syndrome in extreme cases, or nausea in more mild cases. For many people, a couple small bites are all they need to feel satisfied with sweets after surgery. If that’s your situation, have some of the real deal and savor each small bite. If you are looking for a slightly larger quantity, there are lots of bariatric-friendly dessert ideas, including protein shake ice cream, sugar-free pudding “cheesecakes”, and protein balls.

My favorite bariatric food resource is The World According to Eggface blog: . Shelly has been blogging about delicious bariatric-friendly recipes for 13 years. Use the ‘Search’ function to find Thanksgiving recipes that will delight everyone at your table, whether or not they’ve had surgery. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing You Happy (and Healthy!) Holidays

Wishing You Happy (and Healthy!) Holidays

Contributions from:
Ali Coster, Dietetic Intern
Laura Andromalos, Dietitian and Diabetes Educator
Amanda Davis, Exercise Physiologist
Lance Briggs, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

During this holiday season, make a promise to put yourself at the top of your list. You’ve worked hard to stay on course with managing your weight and health throughout the year. Don’t let the holiday season throw you off! Parties, big meals, treats at the office and alcohol all create a challenging environment for healthy eating. Days of travel and holiday events limit time for exercise. And we won’t even start counting the number of possible stressors that come with the holiday season.

Your NWWC care team wants to support you! With nutrition, fitness, and behavioral health experts, we can help you make a plan to stay on track throughout the holidays. Be proactive! Schedule an appointment to see us before the holiday season wreaks havoc on your health goals.

Nutrition Tips:

  • Want to make sure you can still enjoy holiday favorites? Use the plate method for a balanced and portion-controlled meal.
    • Fill a quarter of your plate with protein foods and eat those first.
    • Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and eat those next. Think green beans, mushrooms, carrots, spinach, Brussels sprouts, etc.
    • Finally, a quarter of your plate is for the starch-based foods such as mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, or corn. If you are listening to your stomach, you might not have much space left for the foods in this part of your plate. Savor the flavors of each bite.
    • Treat fats, such as gravy, butter, or oil, as condiments. A little bit can go a long way.
    • If you choose to have dessert, have a small portion, enjoy every bite, and move on. Don’t let it turn into an everyday indulgence during the holiday season.

Fitness Tips:

  • Start your day with a Turkey Trot or a Jingle Bell Jog. If you can’t make it to an official one, do your own with family and friends.
  • A 30-minute casual walk after a meal can significantly decrease your blood sugar level whether or not you have diabetes. Get some steps in after you eat.
  • Exercise doesn’t have to be time-consuming and anything is better than nothing. A 5- or 10-minute walk is always better than 0 minutes of movement.

Behavioral Health Tips:

  • Practice good sleep hygiene: Lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep will greatly increase your risk of developing depression or anxiety
    • Set a schedule – Start settling into bed at least 30 min before the planned sleep time. Set an alarm and have a morning routine.
    • Turn off electronics – Lights from the phone or TV trick your brain to reduce its production of melatonin, the sleep time hormone.
      • Pro tip: If you are having trouble with this one, switch to radio / podcasts, and then transition to a white noise device (e.g. fan).
    • Cut out evening / nighttime caffeine – Caffeine’s half-life is about 6 hours, but the amounts in most caffeinated drinks can take up to 12 hours to be fully eliminated.
  • Practice mindfulness: We’ve programmed our minds to plan for the future, and analyze the past, but it’s difficult to focus on the present. Mindfulness, or present centered thinking, can help reduce anxiety about the future and guilt from past situations.
    • Pay attention to physical sensations, sounds, smells, or tastes helps you focus. Start with routine activities, such as a shower. Focus on the feeling of the water drops flowing downward. When your mind wanders off into the future, bring it back with focusing on a sensation.
      • Pro tip: Mindfulness may seem silly at first, and not as important as other things to focus on, but the emotional and psychological benefits with this practice are profound.
  • Practice gratitude through journaling: Research clearly shows a link between improved mental health and gratitude. It is often easier to identify the wrongs in our life and neglect the right things.
    • Set a daily time, perhaps in your evening routine, to sit down and write of list of things you are grateful for that day.