Have Your Turkey and Eat It Too! 10 Thanksgiving Holiday Tips for the Lung Patient
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, love, and thanksgiving. Often time we are overwhelmed with all that needs to be done to prepare and the thought of possibly being away from our home and comfort zone seems rather scary. I get it. For a person living with a lung condition stress and anxiety can cancel out the joy and happiness of being with friends and love ones during this time of year. Well I am here to tell you that you aren’t alone. Many people with lung conditions feel this way but I have put together some great advice and tips that will hopefully help you to enjoy yourself and relieve some of the stressors that come along with living with a lung condition and celebrating the holidays.
Here are 10 Thanksgiving Holiday Tips for the Lung Patient
1. Take a seat – we all want to contribute so that the meals are a success. If you want to assist with meal preparation, find a seat somewhere in the kitchen to chop, mix, or prepare the food. Allowing yourself to sit will help you to conserve some of your energy while helping to prepare the meal.
2. Don’t starve yourself before the big meal – If you avoid eating breakfast or lunch before holiday meals you may go through the day with hunger pangs and be more inclined to overeat during the holiday meal. Also, not eating will contribute to lower energy levels when it comes to managing your normal level of breathlessness. Low Energy = Feeling More Breathless
3. If you wear oxygen, account for your time away from the house. - Don’t let your oxygen put you on a time restraint (or others) when it comes to enjoying the holidays. Bring enough tanks or battery power for concentrators to last double the time you plan on staying. That way if you are really enjoying yourself, you can stay as long as you wish. You may also want to think about arriving a few minutes early, so that you can park close and find a comfortable place to sit.
4. Stay hydrated – It goes without saying that people with lung conditions should drink plenty of water. I have mentioned before that water is great for your lungs. It helps to hydrate any thick sputum you have in your lungs and makes it easier to mobilize. It is great for your skin, keeping it from drying out easily. There are just so many benefits to your body that it really deserves its own blog post! Nevertheless, I am one of those people that has to remind herself to hydrate. Bring a bottle of water with you in your purse or bag and remember to refill it often.
5. Eat slowly – Taking large bites of food or eating too fast can cause breathlessness from bloating. Bloating can cause you to feel breathless due to your stomach getting in the way of your diaphragm working effectively. (See Bloating Blog) Take your time eating along with sipping water periodically throughout the meal to aid in digestion.
6. Shop online for groceries – If you had asked me 10 years ago whether I thought we would be able to buy our groceries online, I wouldn’t have even imagined it. Now in the U.S. more and more grocery stores are moving toward an online ordering system and this could not be more convenient for people with lung conditions. Yes, walking the grocery store aisles can give you great exercise, but if it causes you stress, the online ordering system is a wonderful option. You can order the exact ingredients that you need at most grocery stores and either pick them up at a designated time of your choice or some grocery stores offer delivery to your home. As a busy mom of three young kiddos, I love it!
7. Keep Exercising – it is really easy during the holidays to give up our normal exercise routine. Don’t do it! Exercise helps you to continue to feel stronger as well as helps you to reduce stress. Invite houseguests or family members to join you for exercise to mix things up a bit and keep you company.
8. Make smart food choices. - Avoid putting large quantities of the foods that have little nutritional value on your plate. Try starting off with a small sampling of the indulgences and eat more of the lean turkey and vegetables that are available. Don’t over salt or sweeten your food. Try your food first before sprinkling anything extra on top. Wait a while and allow your food to settle after the meal is complete before treating yourself to dessert. Take only a small portion to enjoy.
9. Prepare- I know, I know… y’all hear me say it all the time, but I can’t reiterate it enough. Make sure you have taken your breathing medications the right way, at the right times. (See Inhaler Blog) Bring your rescue inhaler with you if you are celebrating away from your home. Don’t run out. Make sure that you have enough doses to get you through the holiday without running out.
10. Make it a potluck. - If you are willing to host your family and friends at your own home, don’t take on the responsibility of making all the food. Have your friends and family bring their best dishes to share. Make a list of the courses that you need and have each guest notify you in advance of what they are bringing. This will help to limit the stress of preparing all the food at your home (including washing all the dirty dishes this creates) as well as the cost of feeding all of your guests.
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