Five Ways To Stay Healthy This Thanksgiving (aka America’s Deadliest Day)

Thanksgiving can be a meaningful holiday, but unfortunately it’s also the deadliest day of the year for Americans.  We want to make sure you and your loved ones stay well so you can enjoy this week to the fullest.  Here are the five top ways to stay well!

1) Drive safely.

Nearly 50 million people will travel during Thanksgiving week -- and 89% of those people will travel by car.  Driving conditions are more dangerous than usual this week for two reasons: 1) the increased amount of traffic on the road, and 2)  the number of drunk drivers.  To avoid being injured in an accident, make sure the driver of your car is sober, be on the lookout for drunk drivers and other traffic dangers. And make sure you wear your seatbelt!  More than half of the people who die in a traffic accident during Thanksgiving lose their lives because they weren’t buckled up.

2) Wash your hands.

There’s an increase in contagious infections in the fall -- and the risk of contracting an infection goes up during Thanksgiving week as you come into close contact with people at the airport, in the grocery store and around the dinner table.  Airplanes and grocery carts are especially germy.  Believe it or not, seatback trays have more germs than the airplane’s toilet seat (!?) and 50% of grocery cart handles are crawling with E. Coli.  To avoid becoming sick, disinfect the surfaces you can, and wash your hands!

3) Don’t overeat.

Not only is overeating unhealthy because it contributes to weight gain, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease, but it’s also unhealthy for you in the short run.  Overeating is one of the leading causes of ER visits on Thanksgiving Day, because it can cause abdominal pain as well as acid reflux that can mimic a heart attack.  

4) Cook with care.

Cooking accidents are another leading cause of Thanksgiving ER visits.  To avoid lacerations, make sure you use knives carefully.  To avoid burns, be especially vigilant when you’re working around the oven, stove, boiling water and hot cookware.  And to avoid food poisoning, make sure you thaw the turkey in the fridge (not the countertop!), cook the turkey to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, and cook the dressing outside of the turkey.

5) Practice gratitude.

Thanksgiving is a special reminder of how important it is to practice gratitude!  When you and your loved ones practice gratitude, you’ll have lower rates of anxiety, insomnia and infections, and you’ll be more likely to experience happiness, healthy self-esteem, job satisfaction, optimism and energy.

From all of us at Golden Gate Urgent Care, we wish you a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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