Tips for Lightening Up Your Thanksgiving Feast

Roasted turkey garnished with cranberries on a rustic style table decoraded with pumpkins, gourds, asparagus, brussel sprouts, baked vegetables, pie, flowers, and candles.

Sticking to a special diet can be tough, especially when it comes to the holidays. The Thanksgiving holiday is centered around a big feast enjoyed with loved ones. From tasty appetizers to the main course and scrumptious desserts, the temptations are usually too numerous to count.

If, however, you have a medical condition that requires you to stick with a restricted diet, are trying to lose weight, or are just focusing on overall wellness, eating healthy is essential. That means making good choices every day, including on Thanksgiving.

The good news is that there are a variety of ways you can enjoy your holiday meal without sabotaging your diet.

Easy Ways to Lighten Up Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Prepare traditional foods in a healthier way

The first suggestion is a simple one. Pull out your favorite Thanksgiving recipes and research how you can make each one a little healthier. You’ll probably be surprised at how easy this can be. For example, swap out salty soup stock for a low-sodium version when you are roasting the turkey. You can also substitute applesauce in baked goods and stevia in other desserts. Switch heavy cream in the sweet potatoes with almond milk. Most of these substitutions won’t alter the taste much.

  • Be smart with seasonings

People with a history of cardiac or vascular problems often need to restrict sodium intake. Holiday foods tend to be loaded with salt and other ingredients high in sodium. A simple way to make your Thanksgiving dinner a little healthier is to season foods with fresh herbs and spices instead. Nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, ginger, and coconut aminos can all be good substitutions. You can also add flavor with fresh lemon or lime.

  • Limit alcohol intake

Cocktails are another common indulgence during the holidays. Unfortunately, alcoholic beverages are typically high in sugar and empty calories. Some can even be high in sodium, especially those that require mixers. Consuming too much alcohol might also have a negative impact on your judgment, putting you at higher risk for blowing your diet. Avoiding alcoholic beverages is best. If you aren’t willing to do that, limit yourself to one drink. You could also consider making nonalcoholic versions of your favorite adult beverages.

  • Be mindful of appetizers

It’s easy to overlook how much you’ve eaten when you graze on snacks and appetizers throughout the day on Thanksgiving. It’s important to be mindful of the calories, fat, and sodium in appetizers, too. One bite here and another little bite there, over and over during the day, can lead to hundreds of extra calories. It’s usually best to stick to the vegetable tray and fruit slices and limit how many other snacks you consume before and after dinner.

  • Avoid overeating

Thanksgiving is a day known for overeating. Try to avoid it by practicing portion control. If there are a lot of favorites on the table, take just a small serving of each. You can also trick the eye by eating on a smaller salad plate rather than a large dinner plate. Another step to prevent overeating is to drink a full glass of water before heading back for seconds or for dessert.

Try a New Approach to Thanksgiving Dinner

If you and the loved ones you spend Thanksgiving with are looking for a new dinner menu, you might want to consider vegetarian options. Even if you aren’t ready to go all out on a full vegetarian dinner, consider offering a few appetizers or side dishes. Recipes for Hosting a Vegetarian Thanksgiving has some great options to try this holiday season!