Having a healthy Thanksgiving goes beyond how you eat. Be intentional in the way you nourish your body, while staying true to the spirit of love and gratitude.


Thanksgiving is a time for family, gratitude, comfy sweaters and, of course food! The last of which can evoke anxiety for anyone with a health goal they are managing or a food-related lifestyle.

However, there are ways you can enjoy the holiday no matter how you eat. Here’s how you can savor each bite and appreciate the nourishing foods in front of you:

1. Focus on what’s in season.

The autumn harvest includes earthy veggies like squashes, Brussels sprouts, kale, and beautiful fruits like pears, cranberries and pomegranates. When planning your Thanksgiving meal, think about making dishes that add more of these ingredients instead of focusing on what you should avoid.

For example, if you’re gluten-free, think about doing a baked pear dish as a dessert option. If you are looking to cut back on sugar, try a low-sugar cranberry sauce that’s sweetened with other fruits.

2. Keep it simple.

If you are someone who loves creating elaborate dishes, go for it. But if that’s not you, not to worry. Sometimes the simplest dishes can be the most flavorful. Try making a roasted butternut squash dish or a kale salad with pomegranate, pears and pecans. There are countless simple dishes that will be sure to impress your friends and family.

And of course, there’s the turkey! With all that iron, zinc and selenium, turkey is one of the best lean proteins you can eat. And since it’s the star of Thanksgiving dinner, that’s great news for your health!

3. Bring a dish.

If you are not hosting, offer to bring a dish or two! This will not only relieve some stress for the host, but it will also allow you to have a backup dish on hand that you know you love to eat. And be sure to ask the host if they know of any other guests with food restrictions that you can accommodate.  For example, if you’re vegan and know another guest is gluten-free, try making some of the many vegan, gluten-free dishes out there.

4. Never apologize for what you eat (or don’t eat).

It’s understandable that on a day when people are sharing their favorite dishes, you may feel inclined to eat something you don’t want to for whatever reason. However, it’s your body. Have a grab bag of polite responses and then bring the conversation back to dishes you are able to enjoy or ingredients you can all agree on.

5. Enjoy your meal.

If you ate more than you planned, let go of the guilt. Thanksgiving is one day after all! “Healthy” or not, remember that it’s all about focusing on what really matters this Thanksgiving:

Spending time with family and friends.

Adapted from the original article.

Jessica Spiro, RD, CLC is a registered dietitian nutritionist from Encinitas, CA specializing in pre- and post-natal nutrition, as well as cancer, food allergies, diabetes management, and heart health. Check out more fun recipe ideas and nutrition tips with Jessica!

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