Family, food and festivities… the ingredients for great Thanksgiving memories. But, if you’re not careful, these memories could turn into aches and pains. As we all get ready to give thanks and kick-off the holiday season, we have some tips that can help keep you pain-free and healthy.

Safe cooking pointers:

Cooking Thanksgiving meal is a big job and it’s important to be careful because standing for long periods of time while cooking and lifting heavy objects like turkeys can lead to back, shoulder and neck pain.  However, there are simple things that you can do to help decrease the effects of the added stress on your body.

  1.  Stand on a padded surface while cooking and maintain even weight on each leg. If that gets uncomfortable, you can also use a stool to prop-up one foot and give each leg a turn.
  2. When carving or chopping it’s best to stand, so choose a workspace that is level with your forearms when elbows are bent at 90 degrees.
  3. Take a quick break every 20-30 minutes for some simple stretching to loosen shoulder, back and neck muscles.
  4. When it’s time to get the turkey out of the oven, lift with your knees, and avoid bending or twisting at the waist. Keep the load close to your body, around your midsection.
  5. If something is too heavy to move yourself, ask for help. Test the weight of the object first by pushing it with your foot to determine if you can move it yourself or not.
  6. Always use a cutting board, and never carve towards yourself. Keep your free hand opposite of the side you are carving towards.
  7. Keep your knife sharp, the handle dry and consider using an electric knife for ease with carving.
  8. Your carving surface should be dry to help prevent the item from slipping, and well-lit so you can see.
  9. When it’s time for the dreaded washing of the dishes, remember that wet, sudsy plates and glasses can be dangerous to your hands if dropped.
  10. If you get cut, apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to help stop bleeding.  Seek medical attention if bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes, or you notice tingling or numbness.

Healthy meal ideas:

The traditional Thanksgiving meal, from turkey to cranberry sauce to pumpkin pie with whipped cream has about 3,000 calories! However, knowing a few strategies and adding just a little planning can help lower the calories for your big meal.

  1. Start the day with a small meal of low calorie choices. Do not skip breakfast on days like Thanksgiving. Skipping meals often results in overeating later.
  2. If you like dips as appetizers before the meal, try yogurt for the base of the dip to increase nutrition while decreasing fat. Swap out chips or crackers for veggie sticks or baked pita squares.
  3. Choose white meat turkey to save about 70 calories in every three ounces.
  4. Make gravy from fat-free meat drippings to save calories. Use corn starch and/or evaporated skim milk to thicken gravy for more flavor and fewer calories.
  5. To reduce calories and carbohydrates, choose stuffing or a potato, but not both.
  6. For the turkey stuffing, moisten bread crumbs with fat-free broth and bake the stuffing outside of the turkey to keep calories down and keep the stuffing safe from bacteria. If you plan on adding drippings to the stuffing, run an ice cube over the top of the drippings and the fat will cling to the cube. A paper towel also works to decrease fat.
  7. For salads, use green leaf or romaine lettuce and a mix of chopped fresh vegetables for a good nutritional balance. Use fat-free salad dressings.
  8. Don’t forgo the cranberries. The relish they make can further increase the nutritional value of the meal.
  9. Stick with pumpkin or sweet potato pies as they have more nutrition and are easier to make lean. Use evaporated skim milk and egg whites during baking to cut back calories.
  10. Skip the crust and eat the filling of the pumpkin pie to save more calories.

After the meal is a great time to get some general movement. Perhaps enjoy a 20-30 minute leisurely family walk – not a power walk or a race. This is a simple way to facilitate digestion and absorption of the food you’ve just eaten.

We wish you a very happy Thanksgiving! We certainly have a lot to be thankful for at Penn-Ohio Rehabilitation and you, our wonderful patients and clients, are at the top of the list!

Sources: Seneca PT | ATI PT