Thanksgiving has many meanings to different people around the world. But in America, Thanksgiving is a time of gathering with family and friends to eat good food, celebrate each other, and consider all the things we have to be thankful for. Whether you’ll be visiting family for the holiday, or having a ‘Friendsgiving’ gathering instead, or spending the evening alone, this time of year can become stressful for many people. Here are four tips for surviving this holiday and making the most of whatever kind of Thanksgiving you celebrate.


  1. Make smart but delicious substitutions. Traditional thanksgiving dinner foods are often full of fats and sugar. But some simple substitutions and tweaks to certain recipes can ensure that these Thanksgiving staples are good for you as well as delicious! For the turkey, roast instead of frying, and stick to the white, skinless meat. The protein will make you feel satiated, so you don’t overstuff yourself. Also, one of the sweetest Thanksgiving foods is sweet potato casserole—ditch the marshmallows and roast your potatoes instead with a little maple syrup. You can keep the same classic vegetables, just present them in healthier ways.


  1. Bring an addition to the meal from home. If you’re visiting family or having a large gathering, take some stress off of the host and bring a side dish or dessert from home. Follow some of the advice above—as a rule of thumb, skip the canned soup and cheeses in as many dishes as you can, and roast some veggies instead. In terms of dessert, pumpkin pie is healthier than pecan. Bake some whole wheat rolls instead of biscuits, and stay far away from canned cranberry sauce. Use as many fresh ingredients as possible, and you’ll avoid being bogged down by fats and heavy calories.


  1. Help out in any way you can. If you arrive at a friend or family member’s house early, and there’s still a lot to be done, offer your assistance. Chances are there will be some way you can help out, regardless of the kind of gathering. There may be veggies to chop, dishes to do, a table to set, and who knows what else. Even outside of the kitchen, some family members or friends may have children who need watching. If you have nowhere to go on Thanksgiving, one way many people make the most of the holiday is to volunteer. Food pantries and shelters are swamped preparing their own meals, and what better holiday is there to offer a helping hand to those in need?


  1. Be thankful. At its heart, Thanksgiving is a time for reflection on all the things we have to be thankful for in our lives. When we come together with friends and family, we are reminded to put aside our differences and show love and gratitude to everyone, even those not related to us. Despite this message, Thanksgiving can be a difficult time for many, due to all the bustle and work associated with it. But at its heart, this holiday is a time to have fun and celebrate with those you love.


We should all strive to carry the gratitude that Thanksgiving inspires with us throughout the rest of the year. And though the day is often associated with excess, you can have a delicious meal without indulging in unhealthy foods. Keep portion sizes small, build a colorful plate, and be sure to get active afterwards.


And amidst all the fun, make sure hydration stays a priority! In anticipation for your Thanksgiving Day feast, you can stock up on fresh bottled spring water for your guests to enjoy. Just call 1-800-624-0081 to place an order.