5 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

Full table of food being prepared

We look forward to the decadent and delicious foods on our Thanksgiving tables. Dishes that we can almost taste in our memories alone. Whether going with proven family recipes or trying something new, there are ways to ensure they can all be prepared health-consciously.

Remember, eating healthy doesn’t mean a strict diet of only grapefruit and fish. Instead, it means eating a balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods and avoiding sugary, fatty foods as much as possible.

5 Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving Dinner

Here are a few traditional dishes on many Thanksgiving tables, with some healthier ways to prepare them.

1.      Turkey

Thanksgiving cooked turkey on a table

Turkey is full of lean protein, so you’ve already won half the battle here. The best way to cook it is by roasting it without any butter and avoiding eating the skin, for it contains a lot of fat.

As for the all-important gravy, try to reduce the fat from the turkey drippings by using skim milk. A little extra cornstarch ensures your gravy will thicken up just like usual.

2.      Stuffing

Traditional stuffing doesn’t offer much nutritional value, but many alternatives do. For one, many recipes call for a good amount of bread. You can start by replacing that with potatoes, quinoa, or brown rice, which are rich in nutrients. There are countless healthy stuffing recipe ideas out there.

3.      Sides

Candied yams are technically a vegetable, but all those marshmallows on top ruin it. However, you can make a similar, healthier dish with fresh sweet potatoes and just a drizzle of honey.

Mashed potatoes aren’t that bad for you; though starchy vegetables have a lot of calories, they are a good source of vitamins and nutrients. You can go with the traditional dish here using skim milk instead of whole, or swap the potatoes out with mashed cauliflower for about ⅓ of the calories. Another option is to substitute part of the potatoes with cauliflower.

Consider healthier versions of other traditional sides like; creamed spinach using light butter and low-fat cream and serving the green beans and corn without butter.

4.      Bread

For many, Thanksgiving dinner isn’t complete without homemade rolls or fresh-baked bread. However, white bread is high in carbs that turn into sugar in our bodies. So instead, opt for whole wheat rolls or whole grain bread this year.

Of course, everything always needs to be in moderation, and we need carbohydrates, but all carbs are not all created equal, and we need to be mindful of that.

5.      Desserts


plate of fruit for dessert

First and foremost, portion control is key. You can even have a sugary slice of pie if you limit it to a small one. If that temptation is too hard to resist, there are many alternatives for a healthy dessert. Fresh fruit is always a good direction to head in, as well as any low-fat, low-sugar recipes for any pies or cakes.

Incidentally, the oddly traditional canned cranberry sauce on many people’s tables each year should essentially be considered a desert for how much sugar is in each serving as a reminder to read food labels.

A Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

Eating a healthy Thanksgiving dinner is easier than you imagine. There are plenty of ways you can tweak traditional recipes to add extra nutrition or find new recipes that are delicious enough to become new holiday favorites.

Contact us to request an appointment to meet with any of our nutritionists to help you design a plan to improve your overall health needs and concerns.


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