Have a Heart Healthy Thanksgiving!

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It's time for Thanksgiving - a time when families and friends get together to enjoy a bountiful feast. Holidays can be wonderful, but they can bring added stress and excesses.

So here are some tips from the folks at smart-heart-living.com to help you have a heart healthy Thanksgiving.

Reduce Your Stress

Hosting the Thanksgiving dinner, visiting with family and friends, and having house guests can lead to upsets if you have unrealistic expectations of yourself or others. Go with the flow and keep things in perspective. So what if a cup gets spilled, the dog barfs, the cousins natter, or the pie crust is burned. Sure it may not be perfect, but in the big scheme of things does it really matter?

Manage your expectations. As David Posen says in his book The Little Book of Stress Relief, "the quest for perfection is guaranteed to end in frustration and disillusionment, because nothing will measure up."

Not every meal has to be elaborate and the house doesn't have to be show home spotless.

And everyone can pitch in with the clean up. One woman remembers, "after a holiday feast all the grown kids in our family used to head for the kitchen and there we'd do the clean up while visiting and catching up. I have such fond memories of those times."

Whether you are hosting guests and making the feast, or you are traveling to be with others, make sure you plan time for yourself to relax.

A Thanksgiving dinner can be heart healthy!

Turkey, the traditional mainstay of the harvest feast, is a concentrated source of protein, a good source of Vitamin B6 and niacin. And, it's recognized as a heart healthy food by many experts including George Mateljan, author of The World's Healthiest Foods. Turkey is also a concentrated source of sleep-promoting tryptophan, which is why a nap after Thanksgiving dinner is often so appealing.

Consider getting an organically raised turkey, and roast it in the oven or barbecue. DON'T deep fry it in fat.

Winter squashes (Butternut, Acorn, Hubbard, Turban, Kabocha, and Spaghetti squash), also standard fare on the Thanksgiving table, are a concentrated source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega 3 essential fatty acid that is very good for heart health. It's also an excellent source of Vitamin A.

Steam your squash and add flavor with fresh rosemary, honey and nutmeg, toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or sage and thyme.

Pumpkin pie?

Pumpkins are another winter squash. It is traditional across North America to serve pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner. Probably the best way of eating pumpkin is not in a pie but then again, Thanksgiving only comes around once a year! But make or buy a homemade pie with fresh (not canned) ingredients. And go lightly on the whipped cream!

See www.smart-heart-living.com for recipes for Thanksgiving dinner.

Get Some Exercise

How about a walk or cycle while the turkey roasts? What better time to get outside than in autumn when the leaves are colorful, the air is crisp, and when you return home, the house will welcome you with rich aromas!

Exercise is known to reduce stress levels, increase your energy, and improve sleep and digestion. After a plentiful Thanksgiving dinner it will help burn off any additional calories you've consumed. Get the whole gang out for a 30 minute walk. Make it part of your Thanksgiving ritual.

What if it's raining? A walk on a rainy day can be a wonderful experience. Can you remember how much you enjoyed going out in the rain with an umbrella when you were a child? Don't let the weather stop you. Dress accordingly and you'll be surprised at how enjoyable it can be.

Count your blessings

Strong positive emotions induce physical and emotional responses that are thought by many to have significant health benefits.

At your Thanksgiving dinner, take the opportunity to go around the table and have each person share what they are thankful for. Everyone can participate. One family says, "We've done this now for several years. It can become extremely emotional - but that makes it more meaningful. We've often had at least one person at the table choke up when they share what they are thankful for in their lives. And the little ones enjoy it too. When our granddaughters were only three they understood the concept and they talked about how grateful they were for their Mommy and Daddy and the things in their lives that were important to them. Of course there's always lots of humor and laughter too! It's a family tradition we hold close to our hearts."

Whether your Thanksgiving dinner is for two or for 20, you can still count your blessings.

Have a hug, give a hug

Hugs are good for your heart. Human contact through hugs lowers blood pressure and reduces stress, which cuts the risk of heart disease. On Thanksgiving, hug your friends, your family, and your guests. Not only will it feel good, but it's healthy for everyone!

Whether you're living with heart disease or simply want to live a heart healthy life, [http://www.smart-heart-living.com] provides the information and resources you need including sections on exercise, diet, risk factors, lifestyle choices, common concerns, symptoms and much, much more. Kim Thornton is the co-creator and webmaster of this website.

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