WASHINGTON — With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s a good time to not only swap recipes but also talk about family health history with your relatives.
Thanksgiving Day is also National Family History Day, as declared by the U.S. surgeon general since 2004. It’s meant to be a time when Americans are encouraged to discuss health issues that run in the family and to work on putting that information in written form.
“Family history is very important when it comes to our health,” said Dr. LaKeischa McMillan, host of the “Housecall with Dr. Mac” podcast.
She says awareness of family medical history can be beneficial to relatives of current and future generations by alerting them to medical issues that could crop up as they age. This awareness can enable them to make better personal health decisions that might prevent or stave off chronic disease.
But it may seem a little morbid and awkward to spend time talking about chronic illness and how family members passed away while you pass decadent, fat-laced holiday delicacies across the table.
McMillan has a few tips on how to ease into those conversations. Start off while cooking dinner to avoid putting a damper on the holiday spirit, so your family doesn’t have to talk about great-grandma’s cause of death while passing the mashed potatoes, collard greens or pie slices.
McMillan also says maybe talking about it “when you’re moving around, going grocery shopping together …[on] Black Friday when you’re out and about,” is another idea.
She added, “So there are ways that you can weave these things into the conversation and start asking certain questions and create some new memories.”