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Prepare for a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving 

Virtual Thanksgiving dinner, healthy and safe Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, so is the fear of the dreaded holiday weight gain. According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat during a typical holiday gathering from snacking and eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. By that estimate, we are eating roughly two and a quarter times more than the general recommended intake. This year, Americans have more than just the meal to think of. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect families around the world, people are wondering how to celebrate this holiday in a safe way.  The good news is there are a few tricks to help make this Thanksgiving a little healthier and safer this year.  


Tips for Eating Healthy  

  1. Start by filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. This includes green beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots and salad. Have smaller portions of starchy vegetables, such as corn, peas and winter squash. If you’re in charge of cooking, spice things up with a different take on green beans. Instead of the original green bean casserole, try roasting green beans with some lemon slices, a drizzle of olive oil and garlic. 

  2. Save a quarter of your plate for the star of the show, the bird. Stick to skinless turkey breast. The recommended serving size for protein is roughly the size of a deck of cards. Keep this in mind when building your plate.

  3. The remaining quarter of your plate is for your favorite starchy sides. If there is a casserole or stuffing that you only have at holidays, then take a scoop. If it is a plain dinner roll or mashed potatoes, which you may have more often, then opt to skip those to save room for your favorites.

  4. When it comes to desserts practice portion control. A typical 9-inch pie is meant to be cut into eight slices. If your pie is cut into 6 slices, your portions are probably too big. You may think having a sliver of each dessert is a great way to cut back, but you’ll probably end up eating more than if you savor one piece of your favorite.

  5. Don’t forget, drinks count too. Many of us have oversized wine glasses or beer mugs that never seem to be empty on holidays. Keep track of your consumption by not refilling your glass until it is empty. Stick to the recommended serving sizes -- 5 ounces for wine, 12 ounces for beer and 1.5 ounces for 80-proof distilled spirits.  

Bottom Line: Watching your diet during holidays shouldn’t leave you feeling deprived. Fill up on the vegetables and special foods that aren’t available during the year instead of the everyday foods like mashed potatoes, rolls and cookies.  


COVID-19 Safety Tips

  1. If you plan to have guests over this year, you may want to limit the number of people in your gathering or choose to enjoy a delicious, celebratory meal with those who are part of your quarantine “pod” or “bubble.” Be sure to follow and stay up to date with your local and state guidelines. An updated list of COVID-19 State and Local Policies can be found here.

  2. If you are unable to spend Thanksgiving with your friends or family this year, consider hosting a virtual Thanksgiving meal and share they day with the ones you love. Zoom is removing it 40-minute limit on Thanksgiving day to allow for more time virtually spent with those you love.

  3. If you are planning to have people outside of your “pod” over this Thanksgiving, try to space out the seating arrangement or assign each “pod” their own table to sit at and keep the area that you are gathered in well-ventilated at all times. If the weather is nice, maybe even consider setting up your Thanksgiving spread outdoors!

  4. Do not share glassware or utensils with one another. Consider using different colored cups or disposable plastic cups with each person’s name written on it so your guests can keep track of their drinkware at all times.

  5. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap and remember to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds each time. While washing, be sure to get both the frontside and backside of each hand and include the areas between the fingers and under your fingernails as well.

  6. If you feel at all sick or are experiencing any COVID-related symptoms, call your doctor or local hospital immediately and stay home. You do not want to risk getting other people sick during this time.

Although your day may not look or feel the same this year, try to identify things in your life that you are grateful for this Thanksgiving. 

Learn more about ways to stay healthy and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.


Written by: Laura Dutra, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern 

Revised by: Onycha Carlson, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern 






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