Being Thankful and Eating Healthy at Thanksgiving

Being Thankful and Eating Healthy at Thanksgiving

By: Devra Shiba, RD, CSG, LDN, CSG, CMCDP- Sr. Manager Nutrition, Area Support

Can you believe it? It’s Thanksgiving time! As a foodie, it’s my favorite food holiday to celebrate and be thankful for all I have in my life. For many people, Thanksgiving reminds us of fond childhood memories or spending time with family and friends.

What favorite dishes do you recall being served at the Thanksgiving table or conversations, football games or parades?
Eating healthy can be a concern with all the special meals, holiday parties and high-calorie foods. BUT, let me tell you, it is possible to celebrate the season and still eat healthy.

Here are some facts and simple tips for healthy holiday eating:


  • Turkey- A good source of lean protein, niacin (vitamin B3), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), phosphorus and selenium.
  • Cranberry Sauce- cranberries boast healthy levels of vitamin C, fiber, manganese and vitamin K. We can call it a “superfood”. I love to make fresh cranberry sauce every year…makes a great sandwich spread, too.
  • Stuffing- if I asked 50 people what their favorite stuffing recipe is, I most likely would have 50 answers. I make my grandmother’s delicious recipe every year. You can use challah bread, cornbread, vegetables, nuts or rice. Baking the stuffing separately from the turkey helps to cut down on the fat as it doesn’t absorb saturated fat from the turkey’s drippings.
  • Sweet Potatoes-adds beauty to our Thanksgiving plate with its bright orange color. This starchy vegetable offers large amounts of vitamins A and C, manganese, copper, fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron.
  • Pumpkin Pie-pumpkin itself is loaded with beta-carotene, magnesium, iron and potassium. Homemade pie made from real pumpkin instead of canned can make your pie even more nutritious. Use fat-free or low-fat whipped topping on top.


  • Half your plate should be filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Fill 1/3 of your plate with grains, whole grains are so nutritious
  • Keep protein portions at 2-3 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Don’t go overboard on the gravy! Too much adds extra saturated fat, calories and sodium.
  • Choose 3 cups fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent each day
  • Keep hydrated with plenty of fluids


  • Sodium and salty or processed foods. Savor the flavor of herbs and spices instead of added salt.
  • Read labels to avoid foods with saturated fats
  • Sweets and added sugars, especially sugar sweetened beverages. Treat yourself to bite-sized or half portions of dessert.


  • Go for a walk
  • Participate in planned community exercise and activity events

And lastly, focus on the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday. Think of all you are grateful for…and of course, HAPPY EATING!