Recipes & Tips For A Healthy Thanksgiving
By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
November 13, 2023
As we get closer to the big meal of Thanksgiving, we pulled together our favorite nutritionists’ tips around menu and mindset to help you have a healthy and happy holiday. Depending on where you are in your health journey and with what your relationship with food is like (are you an all-or-nothing person or is moderation more your jam?), an event that centers around tradition and expectations can be really stressful.
The good news is that many of the components that make up the Turkey Day food can fit into the Weight & Wellness Way of eating real food! The whole meal itself centers around protein after all. The key will be to revamp or include dishes with whole food vegetables, natural fats and voila! You’ve got a balanced holiday meal!
Sample Thanksgiving Menu
Whether you are the one hosting and planning the menu yourself or whether you’re asked to bring a dish, here are some of our dietitians and nutritionists’ favorite recipes:
- Brined and Roasted Turkey: Lean protein source.
- Green Bean Casserole: Fiber-rich and low-carb.
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Salad: Vitamin C and antioxidants (and hearty enough to make a day in advance!).
- Sweet Potato Casserole: High in Vitamin A and a great concentrated carbohydrate choice.
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars: Delicious dessert with essential minerals.
- Fun Cocktail Alternatives: Very little sugar and no additional empty calories while still being festive.
Need even more inspiration? Check out this expansive recipe collection for great recipes to add to your menu.
“For a big holiday meal, I always make sure I bring a dish to share that is something I know works for me and that I can fill up on if there’s not a lot of other great choices. More often than not, that is bringing a vegetable or salad dish. My favorite (and is usually a crowd pleaser) is the Cabbage Apple Slaw recipe from the Nutrition 4 Weight Loss cookbook. The Crunchy Broccoli Salad is also a nice choice. I know if I can eat a good hunk of meat and go to town on the veggies, there’s not a whole lot of room left over for the other stuff.”
Positive Holiday Mindset Ideas
So now that you have some options for real, nutrient dense foods for your holiday plan, what are some mindset and habit tips to help you make the most of the holiday?
- Eat a balanced breakfast. Rather than “saving your calories for later”, eat a regular breakfast. This will keep your blood sugar stable, give you positive energy for socializing, and prevent overeating out of hunger later.
- Hydrate. Getting in your usual amount of water throughout the day (we recommend striving for half your body weight in ounces) will keep your cells nourished, especially if you partake in alcohol, and will help you keep track of hunger cues from actual hunger rather than dehydration.
- Build a balanced plate. When it’s time to dish up, fill up most of your plate with the turkey (protein) and at least one vegetable (healthy carbs). Leave smaller amounts of space for the things you just want to have a bite or small taste of.
- Eat slow. This can be a hard one if you’re used to eating quickly! But see if you can set your utensil down in between bites and mindfully savor the tastes and textures of the food, especially if you choose to indulge in something you wouldn’t normally eat. You’ll get more enjoyment from the food as well as be able to feel into when you are full.
- Remember the benefits of eating together. There’s new research out that shows the benefits of having a family meal. We’ve been gathering around mealtimes for centuries! Part of being a healthy human is having social interaction, so remember the meal is more than just the food on the table. It’s also about the communal act of gathering and enjoying each other’s company.
“My way of successfully enjoying the holidays is to moderately indulge the day of celebration, love every minute of it, and get right back to balanced eating the next day. I know full well that eating that pumpkin dessert is going to stir up the sugar monster in me but I also know that if I get right back to balanced eating the desire will dwindle in a couple of days.”
Get Support Through The Holidays
If facing family, food, and the holiday festivities stresses you out, we are here to help! Meeting with a nutritionist or dietitian for a nutritional consultation can help you come up with a plan specific to you for your day to day as well as navigating social gatherings. Need a peptalk on why you are eating healthy in the first place? We have several self-paced online classes for $25 to help motivate and educate you on a variety of health concerns (including a couple cooking classes, like Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, and how to use spices!). Going to be busy and on the go? Pop in your earbuds and take a listen to our podcast Dishing Up Nutrition – we have a line-up of topics to support you through the holidays!
For more information on healthy holidays, check out these resources:
- Read: Healthy Holiday Tips From The Nutritionists & Dietitians
- Read: How To Avoid A Post-Thanksgiving Food Coma
- Listen: Can The Holidays Sabotage Your Weight Loss?
- Try: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancakes or Pot Pie Soup (great for leftover turkey!)