Healthy Choices On Thanksgiving

By Christine Dutton
Updated November 4, 2015

Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Do your mind and body well around the holidays, practice these strategies for stress relief and healthy eating around the holidays.

I love a delicious Thanksgiving meal. Doesn’t everyone? From the roasted turkey to the stuffing to all the trimmings, everything at the table is pretty irresistible. Thanksgiving is a combination of smorgasbord and a celebration of the goodness of food with family and friends.

Here’s a bit of advice for enjoying your Thanksgiving meal in a healthy way.

Take Away The Stress

We all know that the Thanksgiving meal is a lot of muss and fuss. Enjoying a perfectly comforting, nourishing and fulfilling meal makes it all worth it. But, the hours of preparation invites stress to the table. Why not de-stress by parceling out the responsibilities for creating a fabulous meal. Ask your guests to each bring a dish for the meal and for dessert. Then you can focus on simply making a moist and tasty turkey with gravy. Everything else simply gets warmed up for dinner while the turkey is “resting.” Cover your turkey in aluminum foil and raise the oven temperature a bit to warm everything up for serving. Tell your guests to bring their contribution in an oven safe dish.

Serve the meal family style. Have guests either fill their plates in the kitchen or help themselves to their favorites at the dinner table. This will be less stressful and ensure that everyone’s food is piping hot. Also, today is not the day to worry about whether little Mary or little Joe is eating a well-rounded meal. Let that slide right off your back and simply enjoy your meal.

Uh oh. The troublesome uncle is at the table and can’t help but share his controversial opinions. Now is the time to breathe. Or step away momentarily, or switch the subject to something more positive. I suggest having a few conversation starters up your sleeve for the occasion. The goal for the day is to keep the peace and stay at peace.

My family has a lovely tradition of sharing what they are thankful for at the dinner table. I suggest you try this practice as it sets a beautiful tone for your Thanksgiving dinner. Always let guests know in advance that everyone will be sharing their gratitude. Then, everyone is prepared and not caught off-guard. Again, lets make this stress-less. Alternatively, you can have small cards that you give to guests before dinner to write down what they are thankful for. It’s a fun and positive activity for everyone, including the kids.

Make Healthy Choices

I believe in an eating philosophy that allows for the occasional splurge. Thanksgiving is a time when you can allow yourself to eat a little more than your usual healthy diet. After all, it’s just a single day, and won’t have an impact on your overall health. That being said, I do encourage healthy choices that will make for an enjoyable Thanksgiving celebration. It’s all about feeling good. Right?

My top recommendation is to add some vegetables into the mix. If you’re a guest, and you don’t expect much greenery at the table, bring the salad and a vegetable side. Crowd out some of the other options with vegetables on your plate. Try not to eat too many appetizers before the meal. In my family, Thanksgiving is a full day affair, so I have to be careful of how I approach the pre-dinner offerings or I’ll be full before I hit the Thanksgiving table. I also like to have the appetizers include a large platter of crudite with olive oil dipping sauces and an herbed Greek yogurt dip, so there will be healthier options before dinner.

One thing to steer clear of is skipping breakfast on Thanksgiving Day. If you arrive at the Thanksgiving table starving, you’ll likely make unhealthy choices. Have a healthy breakfast, drink lots of water and enjoy some tea until the big feast begins.

Another Thanksgiving Day trap is alcohol. Skip the high calorie beer if there are other options you also enjoy. You’ll feel much better at the holidays if you drink within reason. Drinking lots of water will help you to avoid over-drinking.

After dinner, take a bit of a break before eating dessert. With a break, you’ll have a better connection to what your body might want to cap off the meal. Consider having some options available that are a little lighter, such as fresh fruit with Greek yogurt sweetened with honey.

Have a great Thanksgiving!


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