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A Healthy Thanksgiving Plate

November 20, 2019

From Rajesh Kumari, DSC, RDN, manager, clinical nutrition services at Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ:

The holiday season is a time for celebration. It’s also a time of busy schedules and many extra temptations. Thankfully, with a little know-how, you may satisfy your desire for a traditional favorite Thanksgiving feast guilt-free.

Whether you’re cooking the holiday meal or simply choosing from among the dishes, keep in mind these simple tips. After all, being stuffed is a good idea only if you are a turkey!

  • For a first course, pour yourself a bowl of seasonal veggie soup like butternut squash soup or broccoli carrot soup with potatoes and thyme. 
  • Kicking off your meal with soup will help you slow down while eating. Research has shown it may even reduce the number of calories you consume at your main meal. 
  • For your main plate, fill half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables – this may include Brussel sprouts, green beans, carrots, bell peppers or a green salad. 
  • Go fresh with your veggies to reduce sodium. 
  • Stick with smaller portions of a starchy veggies such as corn, potatoes, green peas and winter squash
  • Protein keeps you fuller for longer- fill ¼ of plate or about a size of a deck of cards with a skinless turkey breast.   
  • Scoop sides on sparingly
  • Practice portion control with your favorite desserts, and beware of sneaky calories. 
  • If you’re concerned about the heavy, fat-and-calorie-laden foods you’ll likely be surrounded by, bring your own lightened-up version of party favorites (a yogurt-based dip instead ranch, or hummus paired with carrots, celery and another fresh crudité for example).
  • Boozy beverages are often loaded with sugar, carbs, and calories. Stick to a two-drink limit or opt for lower-calorie drinks such as a vodka soda.
  • Finally, may consider situating yourself away from the buffet table.


Happy Thanksgiving!