Thanksgiving: A Healthy Survival Guide

As the Holiday season starts to warm up, you’re probably already thinking about Thanksgiving dinner and all those desserts. How can you stick to your healthy lifestyle while enjoying all the delicious food that Thanksgiving has to offer?

We have a few healthy tips to guide you through the Thanksgiving celebrations.

    1. Know your calorie limit

    Like most Holidays, Thanksgiving starts and ends with food. It is the main attraction of the day and the eating starts the moment your guests arrive. From the appetizers and alcoholic beverages to the big turkey dinner and desserts, you’re likely to consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat. That’s the same as eating three sticks of butter and more food than you’d eat in two days.1

    So this Thanksgiving, let’s think about portion control and making healthy choices to help you steer clear of unwanted fat and calories. Fill your plate with a well-balanced selection of macronutrients and promise yourself not to eat everything on offer. 

    2. What foods are good to eat at Thanksgiving?

    Depending on what time Thanksgiving dinner is planned, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast and lunch to help stave off hunger. The appetizers will be harder to resist if you’re hungry. Choose healthy appetizers like fresh veggie sticks, fruit and nuts, and try limiting yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks like dry white wine or light beer. For dinner, stick to white meat, green veggies, sweet potato or carrots, and corn.

    3. What foods to skip at Thanksgiving?

    Some of the fat-laden heavy hitters like gravy, sauces, dressings, and stuffing should be limited. The same goes for desserts like pecan pie and other sweets. Treat yourself to a tiny helping of each to satisfy your palette or bake a few healthy alternatives so you can enjoy dessert without the extra fat and sugar. You’ll be glad you did the next day.

    4. Practice food safety at Thanksgiving

    It’s important to observe food safety rules when cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner, so you don’t spread foodborne illnesses and make your family and guests sick. From thawing to preparing and cooking, handling turkey is a skill. For instance, not many people know there are three ways to thaw a turkey or that washing poultry before cooking is unnecessary.

    Here are a few food safety2 rules to observe this Thanksgiving:

      1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds before handling food.
      2. Keep raw poultry separate from other foods.
      3. Use a cooking thermometer and bring turkey to 165⁰F.
      4. Chill cooked leftovers within 2 hours of eating.
      5. Cut meat from the bone and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
      6. Freeze any extra turkey for 2-4 months.

    5. Healthy ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers

    If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, you’ll be looking for healthy ways to use all those leftovers. Turkey is so versatile, it tastes good in sandwiches, salads, tacos, pasta dishes, casseroles, and curries. You can always give away leftovers, especially all those desserts, to some of your guests. Create doggie bags for your family and give your guests something to take home so you’re not eating pecan pie every day of the week till the next Holiday.

    Just because it’s Thanksgiving, doesn’t mean you have to blow your healthy eating habits.   

    Make this Holiday feast a healthy one and stick to healthy ingredients. Get creative with stuffing, sauces and gravies, bake some new wholesome desserts, and watch your portions. Your heart and digestive health will thank you.



    Calorie Control Council

    2 Food Safety

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    • Blog Contributor
    Comments 1
    • Kathie

      I really appreciated the suggestions and also the chart that noted calories. I’m new to watching/losing weight so this was a definite plus. Thank you

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