A Healthier Thanksgiving

If you want a healthier Thanksgiving meal, you can get help from Henry J. Austin Health Center’s (HJAHC) Nutrition Services to help you make smarter food choices. Whether you’re making the meal yourself or enjoying food that someone shares with you, it’s important to think about making it healthy. 

Balancing Your Plate 

Choose white meat turkey because it’s a great source of lean protein and it’s not high in fat or calories. Pick colorful vegetables like roasted Brussels sprouts, steamed green beans, and mixed salad. These veggies give us fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that help keep us healthy. You can also use sweet potatoes instead of regular mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes are full of nutrients and fiber. Finally, think about having whole-grain stuffing because it has even more fiber and nutrients.  

Mindful Portions 

Having a healthy Thanksgiving also means not putting too much food on your plate. Instead of piling up lots of food, try to be moderate, which means not too much and not too little. Eat your food slowly so you can tell when you’re full and not eat too much. Marion Reinson, the Executive Director of “Eating for Your Health” suggests, “taking 20-30 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full.” So, eat slowly and enjoy your meal. You can use smaller plates to help you eat the right amount. Here’s a tip: fill half of your plate with veggies, a quarter with lean protein (like turkey), and the last quarter with whole grains. Don’t forget to drink water during your meal. This helps you know if you’re really hungry or just thirsty and keeps you from eating too much. 

Healthier Swaps 

Making small, healthy changes to your Thanksgiving meal can make a big difference. HJAHC’s nutrition services can help you make smart swaps. Instead of using heavy, high-calorie gravy, you can make your own with low-sodium broth and a little bit of cornstarch. This way, it’s healthier, and it won’t cost a lot. You can also make cranberry sauce with less sugar, so it’s not too sweet but still tasty. If you love dessert, think about baking a pumpkin pie with a crust made from whole grains and less sugar. It’s a sweet treat that’s better for you. 

To have a healthier Thanksgiving, HJAHC Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Susan A. Jones, RDN, also suggests, “reviewing the restaurant menu online in advance if celebrating at a restaurant and making mindful choices, and if dining at home, it’s advisable to avoid lingering at the table after your meal, as continuing to eat even when no longer hungry can be avoided.”  

If you want more help with eating healthier, you can contact Susan Jones at henryjaustin.org/service/nutrition or call 609-278-6368 before you start planning your Thanksgiving meal. 

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