Health benefits of Thanksgiving foods
November 22, 2017 | by Tracey Graber RD, CDCES

We often hear about the potential pitfalls of Thanksgiving dinner – overindulging, feeling stuffed, and derailing our dietary goals. However, a Thanksgiving spread can pack in nutrients that work for your health. Instead of eating to excess, be grateful to fuel your body with foods that taste good and keep you healthy. And remember, portion control is key.

Several Thanksgiving foods can be a great source of nutrients

  • Turkey: protein, iron (tip: stick with the white meat and pass on the fatty skin)
  • Potatoes: vitamin C, potassium (tip: eat the skin for added fiber)
  • Green beans: vitamins C, A and K
  • Sweet potatoes: vitamin A, lycopene
  • Cranberries: fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants
  • Pumpkin: fiber, and loads of antioxidants
  • Dessert: visit the American Diabetes Association website for more tips and tricks for sweets throughout the holiday season (and year round)!

Strategize with the plate model

Healthy Eating Plate
The plate model is a great way to manage your diet.

To help ensure you don’t overdo it at the Thanksgiving table, consider following the plate model of eating.

  1. Divide your plate in half, then divide half of it in half.
  2. Fill ¼ of the plate with starch (potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, etc.).
  3. Fill ¼ of your plate with protein (turkey).
  4. Fill half of the plate with veggies.

By dedicating half of your plate to vegetables, you will help reduce the overall calorie content of the meal and help you avoid feeling too full.

Take time for physical activity

Another thing to consider is physical activity. On Thanksgiving this year, consider taking a walk with your family, your pets, or for some needed alone time, after your meal. A post-meal walk as short as 15 minutes can help aid in digestion and improve blood sugar levels.

Be sure to try some of these tips so you’re able to follow your dietary goals and still enjoy a delicious holiday season!