MARQUETTE -As Thanksgiving approaches, people often look forward to elaborate holiday dinners, piles of desserts and hours of lounging around, watching television and socializing with family and friends.
At times like this, the furthest thing from people's minds may be one of the most vital: their health.
"I think it's important to be as consistent as you can be with your healthy habits every day," said Grace Derocha, a registered dietician and a health coach with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan. "A holiday doesn't mean a vacation from taking care of yourself."
Turkey Trot participants are seen in this file photo. The activity is just one way local residents can get exercise during the holiday season when overeating is often an issue. (Journal file photo)
Derocha said the goal of being healthy every day - including on Thanksgiving - can be achieved in a number of ways, such as substituting ingredients into some of your favorite holiday dishes.
She suggested adding carrots to sweet potato dishes and mixing cauliflower or white beans in with mashed potatoes. In addition, she said she skips the apple pie and opts instead for baked apples with cinnamon and nutmeg for dessert.
But eating healthy on Thanksgiving doesn't necessarily mean you need to ignore your favorite recipes, either. Derocha said one of the most important tips she gives people is to eat reasonable portions of food.
"Our bigger problem is that people are eating way too much," she said. "Put that back in perspective and keep portions to the right size for each individual person."
It is best to eat slowly - after a meal, it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to signal to the brain that it is full - and to only eat until you feel satisfied, Derocha said.
People, she said, are inherently smart about food intake and often know when they are overeating. Still, the problem is widespread.
According to Derocha, the average American gains between eight and 12 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years.
To combat that holiday heft, she urges people to eat a fair helping of fruits and vegetables. If your Thanksgiving Day meal is placed on a typical three-section paper plate, the meat and starches should fill the smaller sections of the plate. The largest portion of the plate should be reserved for fruits and vegetables, she said.
As is true on any other day of the year, one of the best things you can do for your health on Thanksgiving is to get some exercise.
Whether it is a trip to the gym, a walk with the kids, or a flag football game with the family, people are well-served to undertake some form of cardiovascular exercise on Thanksgiving Day.
If cooking and entertaining guests leaves little time, Derocha suggests walking on a treadmill or using a stationary bike while watching post-feast television with the family.
In Marquette - and in many communities around the country - health conscious individuals can also take part in an annual Turkey Trot.
The proceeds from the Marquette event - hosted by Marquette Senior High School - will go to sponsor the MSHS orchestra program and the MSHS Business Professionals of America club. Participants can walk or run a five- or 10-kilometer course, both of which begin at the high school, head west down Fair Avenue and turn north up the bike path.
"It's a community event. It's always nice to meet up with people before the holidays," said Kim Carr, an MSHS business and technology teacher and the advisor of the business club. "It's a great way to start your day."
Carr, who has been involved with the Turkey Trot for six years, said last year's event, which took place in bad weather, had about 300 participants.
The forecast is pointing to much better weather this year, and Carr is hoping for an even larger turnout.
This year's Turkey Trot kicks off at 9 a.m. at MSHS, regardless of weather. Runners can register online at www.active.com through tonight. Registration will also be available beginning at 8 a.m. at the MSHS canopy.
Basic registration for the Turkey Trot is $10. For $25, participants will receive a T-shirt with their registration.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.