Healthy Holidays: Thanksgiving

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Food is a huge part of Thanksgiving, and many of us look at Thanksgiving as a moment to indulge ourselves without as much consideration of the consequences. While it’s important to celebrate and enjoy all those dishes you’ve been looking forward to, it’s also important to be on guard.

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season; a time where healthy habits often go by the wayside, and when it’s all too easy to let an occasional indulgence escalate into weeks of casual overeating.

Here are our top tips to enjoy Thanksgiving and its bounty while still being kind to your body:

  • Be sure to have a healthy breakfast and lunch on Thanksgiving day. Many people make the mistake of starving themselves all day to try and compensate for a larger-than-normal dinner. It is better to focus on eating healthfully during the day, which will provide you with nutrients so you don’t show up at dinner famished and inhale the whole table.
  • Focus on your favorites. During Thanksgiving, there are a lot of appetizers and side dishes which can add up to a lot of calories. Mindless grazing on things such as crackers and nuts before the meal are often not as enjoyable as the main meal. Choose your favorite dishes to indulge in and try to avoid standing near the snack table if possible.
  • Give it a beat before you grab seconds. It can take the body some time to signal to the brain that it is full. Try waiting 20 minutes to truly see if you are hungry before grabbing seconds.
  • Add new, healthier side dishes to the menu. Plant-based whole-grain side dishes, such as our harvest quinoa salad is not traditional, but these vegetable-forward dishes will complement the traditional Thanksgiving foods well, and provide additional cancer-preventing vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
  • Be mindful of booze. Alcoholic drinks contain a lot of calories which can add up over the course of the day. Try having sparkling water or zero-calorie soft drinks instead or in between alcoholic drinks to reduce your intake.
  • Get back on track right away. It can be difficult to get back to your normal routine the next day if there are a lot of unhealthy leftovers in the house. Be sure to send guests home with some of the leftovers, and any unopened food products can be donated to a local homeless shelter.

Use our tips to make your holiday as healthy as possible, but also remember that Thanksgiving only comes around once per year. While food is a huge focus of this holiday, it’s not the only important thing.

Enjoy your meal, but also concentrate on being with your friends and family, and all the other things you are thankful for.

Registered Dietitian Approved

There are many misconceptions about nutrition and cancer in widespread media. By using current scientific literature, plus recommendations of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Institute for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society, our Registered Dietitian, Kate Ueland, MS, RD, and our team of editors work to help our readers discern truth from myth.

The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Always consult your physician or registered dietitian for specific medical advice.


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