Op-Ed: COVID-19 won’t ruin your Thanksgiving dinner


Photo: UT News- University of Texas

Rob Stevens, General Assignments Reporter

As Ben’s eyes begin to open, his senses are immediately sparked by the intoxicating smell of a turkey roasting in the oven. The more alert Ben becomes to his surroundings, the more heightened his smell becomes. As he walks down the stairs and into the kitchen, he is met with a pleasant surprise that his nose was alerting to all along; Thanksgiving dinner. Ben suddenly realizes that this holiday is unlike any other. He hasn’t been able to go to the gym in months due to COVID-19. This puts him in a unique scenario. Should he enjoy this Thanksgiving dinner as usual? Should he cut back on the stuffing?

COVID-19 has impacted everything around the globe, holidays included. As the clock for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner ticks down, people are wondering whether the lack of open athletic facilities should change how they eat for the holidays.

Lucky for people who were hoping to see the holidays as a glimpse of normalcy, many dieticians feel that it still is everyone’s chance to enjoy their holiday favorites.

“The holidays are the chance to indulge,” said Michael Bill, manager of ASPEN Athletic Club of Cicero. “They only come once a year which allows people a chance to indulge in their favorite foods. Holidays actually give people a chance to meet all the food groups.”

The ability to look at the bigger picture of maintaining long-term health has allowed people to treat the holidays as if one was living in 2019.

“This whole concept of health and fitness is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Jordan Frady, a Marine Corps fitness trainer. “It is supposed to be a lifestyle change. Having one or two holiday dinners that are outside their normal calorie intake isn’t going to hurt you. Just get back on track afterwards.”

Although some people are worried about the impact that the holidays will have on their health and fitness when combined with quarantine, experts are emphasizing the idea of focusing on the lead up to the holidays and immediately after as the points in time to make a significant difference. 

Frady emphasized an equal balance of lifting, cardio and nutrition. In order to maintain a healthy body around the holidays, people need to find a way to workout in ways that are not just cardio based. Using one’s body weight enables them to grow in strength and access their metabolism and burn fat. After that, they need to ensure that their binge appetites are a thing of the past and find information on what food groups to emphasize for their body type.

“You’d be surprised at the amount of free information you can just find on Google,” Frady said. “People can put false information out there but if you fact check and see multiple different pages saying the same thing, it might be something to pursue.”

If someone is enticed to change their meal, there are plenty of options to look through. Bill talked about the importance of not removing turkey from the holidays. 

“Turkey is very good for you,” Bill said. “It is loaded with protein and different nutrients. You want lean meat, so turkey is the healthy choice.”

If you want to transform your holiday dinners to a healthier diet, the best way to do it is with the sides. According to Food Network, some examples of sides to try are eggplant ricotta bites, winter fruit salad, and low-fat eggnog.