With Thanksgiving just days away, many of us are ready to enjoy a day of feasting with family and friends. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is not the healthiest or even safest of holidays. This means that without proper precautions, your Thanksgiving feast could at the very least make you feel ill, and in the worst case scenario could land you in a hospital.

Needless to say, we’d like for all of you to enjoy a healthy and a safe Thanksgiving comfortably in your own homes. Here are six easy ways you can ensure that your Thanksgiving is a safe and healthy one:

1. Beware of food poisoning. Food poisoning doesn’t just happen during the hot summer - in fact your Turkey Day kitchen can be a breeding ground for bacteria if you’re not careful. Chances are that you, along with the majority of your neighbors, are preparing a turkey for your Thanksgiving feast. Since poultry can contain salmonella, correctly handling and cooking your turkey is a key part of a healthy Thanksgiving. Be sure to store and prepare your turkey properly, and always remember to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination on your kitchen counters, cooking utensils and your hands while you’re preparing your meal.

2. Eliminate and/or monitor potential fire hazards. Cooking, frying and baking during Thanksgiving can often lead to kitchen fires and burns if you aren't careful.To reduce your risk of getting burned or accidentally starting a fire in your kitchen, remove as many flammable items as possible from the area and follow basic cooking and fire safety tips throughout the week.

3. Keep an extra eye on pets and children. Children and pets have a way of getting into trouble, and this habit can cause serious problems during a busy Thanksgiving. Make sure that you set up barriers to help keep children and pets away from the hot surfaces and sharp cooking utensils in your kitchen. It’s also important to have someone available to keep an eye on pets and children while you’re in the kitchen, just to make sure they don’t cause problems in the rest of the house. Finally, make sure that you monitor exactly what your pets consume on Thanksgiving as well – fatty foods, bones and other common holiday treats can all cause serious problems that might require an emergency vet visit.

4. Travel with caution. Are you traveling by car for the holiday rather than spending it in your own home? Then drive with caution. Between alcohol consumption and the exhaustion that comes with spending long hours on the road, Thanksgiving week is one of the deadliest times to be on the road. Following basic road safety tips, such as following speed limits and not tailgating other drivers, will help reduce your risk of being involved in an accident this holiday.

5.Eat as a healthy a meal as you can. Eating too much on Thanksgiving can affect your waistline, as well as create acid reflux and stomach pains. Rather than risking this discomfort, take steps to help ensure you eat as healthy a feast as possible. Portion control, using healthier ingredients where possible, and eating just enough to feel full rather than stuffed will go a long way in helping you enjoy your holiday comfortably and in a healthy manner.

6. Take time to minimize your stress levels. We all know that stress is not good for our overall health, so be sure to take some “me time” and do things that will minimize your stress levels during what, for some, is a stressful holiday. Exercising regularly, eating well, sleeping at least eight hours a night, and using other stress relief tricks will all go a long way in reducing your holiday stress levels.

Although Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, it certainly is not risk-free. Fortunately, by following these six simple guidelines you can ensure that your Thanksgiving is an enjoyable, safe and healthy one - and what more can you ask for during this time of year?

*Image courtesy of Flickr user timsackton