Millions of us will have much to give thanks for during the annual holiday, which, like several of its recent versions, again will be a time of health wariness and uncertainty, too.
The seasonal feast — which brings so many the joy of not only a grand meal but also the pleasure of gathering with friends, family, and other loved ones — will be more costly than any in recent memory due to economic inflation and supply chain problems, the Associated Press reported:
“Americans are bracing for a costly Thanksgiving this year, with double-digit percent increases in the price of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, canned pumpkin, and other staples. The U.S. government estimates food prices will be up 9.5% to 10.5% this year; historically, they’ve risen only 2% annually. Lower production and higher costs for labor, transportation and items are part of the reason; disease, rough weather and the war in Ukraine are also contributors.”
As regular folks focus on their coveted seasonal repast, nutrition and other experts caution that the nation is struggling with twinned and (often) seemingly opposing problems — food insecurity and hunger for too many, and at the same time a raging epidemic of excess weight and obesity.
Charitable groups are issuing the call — well worth heeding — that donations of time and resources are appreciated and desperately needed to help feed the elderly, poor, and working poor, not only on Thanksgiving but throughout the year.
Health experts, meantime, are cautioning Thanksgiving diners to go easy not only on their eating on this holiday but throughout the year-end festive season. The chowing down this week alone can lead some of the voracious to consume as many as 4,500 calories in a day or two, laden with excess salt, fat, and sugar. That compares with the more normal, recommended daily calorie intake of 2,200 (women) or 2,800 (men).
Nutrition experts have told USA Today that it’s unwise for most folks to try to cut way back on their eating for a few days in hopes of stuffing themselves at a groaning Thanksgiving meal. That strategy doesn’t work in keeping off excess pounds or reducing the damage of overeating. Instead, people should pace themselves, be more selective in what and how much they eat at the holiday meal.
And, of course, for safety’s sake, please, please be careful with the alcohol consumption. Several glasses of chardonnay, yes, even drunk over the course of a fine meal, can quickly make someone as big a road hazard as the scotch tippler at the sleazy tavern. Don’t forget, too, that even modest amounts of booze can interact with prescription medications. And sleepy and distracted driving — motoring home in so good a mood that the radio is cranked up and everyone in the vehicle is roaring a tune and hanging out the windows, eh — can be lethal.
Do get up from the many televised football games and other diversions (including lots of pre-meal snacking) to get in a walk or maybe a robust touch football, Frisbee golf, or other game.
Notice something different about this timely blog post, as opposed to several penned in recent years at this time? Here, lower down than before, is the mention, too, of how public health experts are cautioning people to take care as they travel and gather for the holidays to protect themselves not only from the still-present coronavirus pandemic but also a virulent seasonal flu, the widely spreading RSV respiratory infection, and other illnesses.
Savvy readers have heard it before and it is worth repeating as so many make getting together a part of the holidays: Get vaccinated (against the coronavirus, especially the Omicron variants), cover your face with a mask (especially if you have underlying conditions, are older, or have other health vulnerabilities), distance if you can, and try to be outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces. If you cough or sneeze, please cover your nose and mouth. Robust hand washing is great, as is the high hygiene that many become accustomed to during the pandemic
If you are feeling poorly, please stay home. Take the coronavirus tests if you suspect you may be infected and call your doctor immediately to see if you might be a candidate for antiviral drugs that can help keep you out of what are increasingly crowded hospitals, or worse.
We may be done with the pandemic, but it isn’t done with us. The coronavirus has killed almost 1.1 million Americans and infected 97 million of us (numbers that likely are under counted). The illness kills 300 or so people a day on average and hospitalizes more than 20,000 daily on average. As for the flu, federal officials say, it kills more than 50,000 people on average each year. The flu and its related lung and heart complications hospitalizes on average 200,000 patients annually, studies indicate.
RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported. But the disease annually also is blamed for 2.1 million outpatient (non-hospitalization) visits among children younger than 5 years old, 58,000 hospitalizations among children younger than 5 years old, 177,000 hospitalizations among adults 65 years and older, 14,000 deaths among adults 65 years and older, and 100–300 deaths in children younger than 5 years old.
With the nation on the brink of, if not in the midst of what public health officials have described as a “triple-demic,” the struggle goes on, not only for most of us to re-establish normalcy but for a significant slice of us to deal with all manner of challenges in fraught times.
Which is why we all can be thankful for the good things in our lives. We can be grateful for the valiant health workers who are battling on still, providing for the most part, remarkable, compassionate, excellent care. We can call on our elected officials to rethink their decision to downsize the public health expertise that helped battle the current pandemic. This leaves us vulnerable, and back in the unacceptable position on skimping anew on a crucial, already under funded safeguard. We can be thankful for first responders and those in the military who safeguard our lives, as well as the “essential workers” (many in still too low paying jobs) whom we “discovered” during the pandemic and seem to ignore anew.
My colleagues and I, of course, are thankful to all of you with whom we have the great joy in working together. We hope we, and you and yours, have a safe, fun, enjoyable, responsible, and healthy Thanksgiving in 2022 — and beyond!