Tips for Staying Healthy This Thanksgiving

Nov 23 • 2015

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and for many people it can be difficult to eat healthy during this time of the year. With so many delicious types of traditional courses on the menu, it’s easy to overindulge. Christy Davis, registered dietician at Baptist Memorial Hospital – Memphis, has shared some simple ways to stay healthy while enjoying Thanksgiving treats with your loved ones.

Many people skip meals in order to make room for more food at Thanksgiving dinner. However, this is not the way to go. Davis says it is important to always eat breakfast and avoid skipping meals. Additionally, finding time to exercise throughout the day is the key. Try going outside to throw around the football, taking a walk with your family, or playing an active game while the turkey is in the oven.

When it’s time to eat, portion control is crucial. “Use a smaller plate and try having smaller portions of the highly sweetened or fattened items, like casseroles, dressings, macaroni and cheese, and desserts,” says Davis. “Fill your plate with more vegetables like green beans, greens, corn, and carrots, as well as lean meat like turkey.” She also recommends bringing a lighter dish to dinner so it is available – you may be surprised how many people will appreciate having the choice.

If you’re looking to lighten your traditional Thanksgiving recipes, the problem ingredients are sugar, butter, eggs, and salt. There are easy ways that you can limit or substitute these items, such as:

  • Cutting back on sugar in general (like using one cup instead of two) or using a substitute like Splenda or stevia
  • Cutting back on butter or substituting canola or olive oil
  • Split the number of eggs required between whole eggs and egg whites to reduce fat and cholesterol
  • Using other herbs and spices like garlic powder, white pepper, onion powder, and sage in place of salt
  • Remembering that some seasoning blends like Cajun or poultry seasoning have large amounts of sodium

There are plenty of delicious ways to enjoy Thanksgiving without impacting your diet. For instance, one of Davis’ favorite recipes is sweet potato casserole. “My grandmother always made this so I’ve taken over this tradition for the past 10 years,” she said. “I use a lot less butter, sugar, and brown sugar and it still tastes amazing.”

What is your favorite healthy Thanksgiving recipe? Share it with us in the comments below. And for additional holiday health support, view our list of heart-healthy Thanksgiving tips.