thanksgiving dinnerMany of our patients express concerns about eating a healthy Thanksgiving dinner. They don’t want to overindulge, but they do want to enjoy dinner with their friends and family. You can have your cake and eat it too if you’re careful.

Have plenty of fresh, raw veggies available.

These will play a major role on your Thanksgiving plate, so make sure you have plenty of raw vegetables and salads on the table. Good choices include broccoli, peas, beans, cauliflower, cucumbers, cabbage, and romaine lettuce. If you cook sweet potatoes or squash, use butter, not margarine, and keep fat to a minimum.

Eat an appetizer.

Don’t go to the Thanksgiving table ravenously hungry, as you’ll overeat. If you’re going to someone else’s home, have a small snack before you go, or serve appetizers if dinner is at your house. A small amount of fat will help tide you over until dinner, so try sliced avocado, nuts, or smoked salmon with a little cheese on a cracker.

Bake the turkey and eat the white meat.

Instead of deep-frying, bake the turkey and avoid eating the skin or visible fat. Eat mostly the white meat, which is lower in calories and fat than the dark meat.

Use less of the pan drippings to make gravy.

If you use half of the pan drippings in your gravy, you’ll have all of the flavor and half of the fat.

Mentally divide your plate in quarters.

Put fresh vegetables on half your plate, turkey on one quarter, and potatoes and stuffing on the remaining quarter. You’ll be able to taste everything, but with half your plate full of veggies, you’ll eat fewer calories. Eat slowly, and stop when you’re comfortably full—long before you feel stuffed.

Drink water.

Avoid the high-calorie drinks and have a simple glass of water. Dress it up with a splash of juice or a slice of lemon or lime.

Don’t go back for seconds unless it’s for veggies.

When you’ve eaten what’s on your plate, wait for a while before you go back for seconds. It takes time for your stomach to communicate with your brain that you’re full. If you’re still hungry, have more vegetables, preferably raw.

Share dessert, or have just a nibble.

If Aunt Shirley’s cheesecake is too hard to resist, have a small piece, or take a couple of bites from Uncle Dave’s piece. If you like to try several desserts, take small spoonfuls and savor them.

What are your favorite tips for eating healthy at Thanksgiving?