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Health / Holidays

Tips for a healthy Thanksgiving feast

Tips for a healthy Thanksgiving feast

The holiday season is almost upon us and I personally sense a little more pressure around the waistline.


I just returned from a mother-daughter “tea party” Girl Scout camp and let’s just say the scones and cream were good (so were the lemon bars and smores). Too good. And there were lots of crafts but not enough hiking and moving around. And there’s still Halloween candy lurking around our house that I found myself dipping into upon our return. And now Thanksgiving Day is nearly upon us. My daughter doesn’t have school at all this week due to professional development days tacked onto the holiday week.

The stress.

The candy.

What is one to do?

People – this is a tough time of year for anyone who’s trying to shed some pounds.

I know I’m not the only one in this tippy boat. I tried the Atkins Diet a few weeks ago and it worked but the heart palpitations I experienced living without carbs were hardly worth it. (Maybe I should have read the book.) For me, it’s time for a more measured approach to moderation and healthy eating. So, I am hitting up an organization that any parent of school-aged kids in Colorado should know about – Colorado Action for Healthy Kids – as I dive into Thanksgiving week.

This organization, funded in part by the Colorado Health Foundation, offers up some tips from its Mom’s Healthy Table blog. Here’s a shout-out to author and registered dietician Caroline Roffidal-Blanco, a mother of two and 2012 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Community Leadership Award recipient.  Roffidal-Blanco is also the  Action for Healthy  Kids’ school volunteer manager.

So, as you prepare the bird (or the Tofurky) and the gravy, and potatoes, and pumpkin pie… (Oy!) consider these tips to ensure good health for you and your family.

1. Focus on the festivities. Don’t let the food be the primary focus. Enjoy spending time with family and friends.

2. Plan for mealtime. Chances are holiday meals won’t be during typical meal times. Plan the day accordingly and don’t skip meals or snacks before-hand because that affects blood sugar and may lead to overeating.

3. Tune up the menu. Look at ways that you can make some of the dishes on the menu healthier. Consider using ingredient substitutions for a low-fat or low-sugar option.

4. Bring or prepare a dish that fits your meal plan. If your family is attending an event, feel free to bring a healthy option. You’ll be surprised at how many people will thank you.

5. Be sure to serve healthy portions of all the food groups – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat protein and low-fat or non-fat dairy.

6. Don’t overdo it. Remember, it’s OK to enjoy the holiday fixins’ just serve small portions and limit all of the sweets and desserts.

7. Be active. Enjoy the time with family and friends by going for a walk after the meal or play outside together. The kids will love it.

These are a few easy tips to follow over the holidays or anytime there are celebrations throughout the year. The American Diabetes Association has great resources on diabetic menu planning for the holidays and easy and healthy recipes that are perfect for tuning up your holiday menu. To learn more, visit

So, take a few deep breaths and remember to enjoy the people in your life this Thanksgiving. Remember, relationships are the ultimate no-calorie treat. And they can be sweet. As for the food, do the best you can  – just don’t overdo it.

May moderation prevail over us all. Here’s to happy holidays.

Julie Poppen
Author: Julie Poppen

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1 Comment

  1. We’re all about being active. Our Thanksgiving tradition that we have yet to miss to is to hike Turkey Trot trail. It’s a great way to burn off some calories before indulging!

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