Keeping Healthy This Thanksgiving Holiday


By: Danielle Staub, MS, RD, CDN, Digestive Disease Dietitian 

Thanksgiving only comes around once a year, making it tempting to over-indulge in holiday favorites.  Here are ten simple tips:

  1. Start the day with physical activity.

    Physical activity helps to regulate appetite and boost metabolism. If you exercise the morning of Thanksgiving, you're starting to create a calorie deficit before you indulge in your favorite foods.

  2. Eat breakfast.

    Skipping meals slows down your metabolism and encourages overeating. My favorite pre-turkey breakfast is oatmeal with a scoop of almond butter and berries—this keeps me satiated and prevents me from over-snacking while cooking!

  3. Eat slowly.

    It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full and have no need to continue eating. Eating slowly allows you to enjoy the beautiful food on your plate and avoid overeating.   Simple tip: put your fork down between bites and engage in conversation with family and friends.

  4. Fill your plate with seasonal, fiber-rich produce.

    During the fall, produce is packed with flavor and nutrition. The best seasonal finds are apples, pears, pomegranate, pumpkin, winter squash, sweet potato, parsnips, radish, kale and mushrooms. My favorite seasonal side is roasted root vegetables (sweet potato, parsnips and carrots) with olive oil, herbs and a drizzle of tahini.

  5. Keep it lean.

    Opt for a reasonable portion of skinless, white-meat turkey. By choosing white meat over dark you'll save 45 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat for each 3oz serving. Plus, lean proteins are typically easier to digest.

  6. Be mindful of alcohol intake.

    The average glass of wine or beer adds an additional 150 calories, which can add up quickly during the holidays. Enjoy a glass or two of your favorite beverage, but be mindful of overdoing it.

  7. Make healthy substitutions.

    Make healthy upgrades where you can in holiday recipes — your guests will never know, and you’ll be doing everyone a heart-healthy favor:  use Greek yogurt in place of butter or oil; soy or almond milk instead of cream.

  8. Avoid seconds.

    Going back for a second plate is often what leaves us feeling uncomfortably full, which can trigger GI symptoms and leave you feeling tired after eating the Thanksgiving meal.  After you had a taste of everything in reason, save some room for the best part of the meal—dessert!

  9. Stay hydrated.

    This is key to maintaining a healthy weight. We often confuse the feeling of hunger with thirst. Make sure to drink water throughout the day (at least eight glasses), and use a nice tall glass (of water) when sitting down at the Thanksgiving table.

  10. Keep it in perspective.

    Thanksgiving is all about family and enjoying time together with others.  So, try to make healthier choices when possible, but remember that one day is not going to throw off your health goals unless you let it!