Make This Thanksgiving Meal Healthy with 5 Strategies That Keep Flavor in Mind

By Marie Lorraine

by Danielle Dolin

Many individuals halt their diets on Thanksgiving Day, allowing themselves to indulge in mouthwatering seasonal dishes. However, the holiday should not revolve around self-indulgence but rather pausing to recognize the countless things in life to be thankful for. So, how does one enjoy the Thanksgiving meal without ending up overeating? Here are seven key ways to make this Thanksgiving your healthiest one yet, without sacrificing flavor.

  1. Balance Out the Flavors on Your Plate

The sweet, creamy flavors of homemade butter rolls, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy are staples in a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. These side dishes can quickly dominate most of the real estate on a plate. To avoid this, add savory foods (turkey, ham, other meats, or plant-based proteins) to the plate first, then incorporate some bitter flavors (vegetables). This will lead to a plate that is not only balanced in flavors but also in macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates), resulting in a more balanced meal that prioritizes flavor.

  1. Include Raw Vegetables

Whether you are hosting or attending a Thanksgiving gathering, incorporating raw vegetables is a game changer. It provides a unique texture distinct from other cooked sides, acting as a great source of water-soluble vitamins and fiber. It is a low-calorie option that can serve as a snack before, during, or between dinner and dessert. Adding raw vegetables to the menu requires minimal effort. This could be a bowl of colorful grape tomatoes, carrots, celery, and broccoli with a dip, or carrots and hummus.

  1. Enjoy the Conversation

Take advantage of the unique opportunity Thanksgiving provides to enjoy time and engage in conversation while you eat. This will naturally allow you to eat more slowly, giving you time to listen to your hunger cues.

  1. Incorporate Activity into Your Day

Adding activity to your day can be a game-changer. Not only will it increase your appetite, but it will also aid in digesting the delicious food consumed that day. The activity can be whatever you are comfortable with—whether it’s a 5K in the morning, a quick game of catch, or a family walk between dinner and dessert.

  1. Be Selective with What You Drink

Wines, sparkling ciders, sodas, and apple cider can be integral parts of a Thanksgiving meal, but they can easily be overconsumed. If the chosen drink does not complement the flavors on your plate and is merely a way to wash down the food, opt for water instead. A perfect compromise is to have a glass of water next to your drink and alternate between the two. This will not only keep you hydrated but also help prevent the consumption of empty calories.

Marie Lorraine holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition Diagnostics from Cox College and a Bachelors in Nutrition and Dietetics from Messiah University. She expands her nutritional knowledge daily through her roles as a Clinical Dietitian and peer reviewer. As a Dietitian she strives to help people find enjoyment in food as they pursue their health. Find her online

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