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Healthy Living Blog

Enjoying Thanksgiving dinner without overdoing it

November 26, 2019 | Nickie Kaetzel RDN, LD


It’s finally here! Many of us anxiously await Thanksgiving week looking forward to traditions, time with family, shopping, and of course Thanksgiving feasts. It’s easy to overdo these often numerous meals and end up feeling guilty or even sick. Here are some tips for enjoying Thanksgiving meals without overdoing it this year.

Don’t skip meals. You may think the trick to being able to enjoy each feast is to skip other meals like breakfast. Don’t try to save your appetite, make sure you eat a balanced healthy breakfast even if you have a Thanksgiving celebration to go to later that day.

Be mindful of portion sizes. It’s easy to go overboard when there are so many delicious dishes! Use these tips to help estimate the proper portion size:

  • 3 ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards
  • ½ cup of vegetables is about the size of a tennis ball

Select the foods you truly enjoy and pass on those that do not interest you. Don’t grab a scoop of everything just because it’s there. You’ll feel better enjoying the foods you look forward to without overdoing it with foods you don’t like as much.

Use a 9-inch plate. Research shows using smaller plates can help you eat less.

Try to avoid or limit liquid calories. Whether it be alcohol or punch, those calories can add up fast. Choose water whenever possible to balance the extra calories on your plate.

Socialize away from the buffet table or where the food is located. It’s easy to mindlessly snack while standing in the kitchen or dining room chatting. After you’re done eating, put the food away or move the social time away from the food so it is out of sight and mind while you visit with friends and family.

Start your meal with a salad. It’s a healthy option that can help you from loading up your plate with other less healthy options later because you won’t feel as hungry.

Go for a walk. So far, Thursday’s weather doesn’t look too bad. Bundle up after dinner and go for a walk around the block to help burn some of the calories.

Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be 100% guilt free. After all, it’s a once a year occasion and it’s OK to indulge a little! But here are some tips to make your favorite dishes a little healthier if you are watching what you eat or have other health concerns like diabetes or heart disease:

  • Use egg whites in place of whole eggs.
  • Low-Sodium broth & stock
  • Use plain fat-free yogurt in place of sour cream for sauces and dips
  • Choose reduced-fat cheeses for your meat/cheese trays, casseroles, and/or salads.

About Nickie

Nickie Kaetzel, RDN, LD is a clinical dietitian at Fisher-Titus Medical Center. For help in reaching your health and wellness goals, contact your primary care physician for a referral for outpatient nutrition counseling.