Banner Health Services  

How to have a healthy Thanksgiving


Jacklyn Diefenbach is a registered dietitian at Banner Estrella Medical Center. Download heart-healthy holiday recipe cards at

Question: I always look forward to Thanksgiving. What tips do you recommend for enjoying a Thanksgiving Day feast without being over-indulgent? 

Answer: A delicious Thanksgiving spread can act like kryptonite for even the most calorie-conscious eaters. The typical person consumes 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day, roughly two and three times the recommended daily allowances, respectively!

Along with feeling uncomfortably full and on the verge of a food coma, over-indulging can also pose health risks, such as increased risk of a heart attack, gallbladder problems, diabetic complications and drowsiness- or alcohol-related traffic accidents.

To help you avoid some common pitfalls of holiday gluttony, here are a few easy tips to enjoying your Thanksgiving Day feast.

  • Stay or become active. Start or increase your exercise routine leading up to Thanksgiving and remain active through the holiday season.
  • Eat breakfast. Sitting down to a meal with an empty stomach significantly increases the likelihood that you will overeat. A small morning meal can curb your appetite and help you control the amount and frequency of your portions.
  • Drink plenty of water. Along with keeping you hydrated and making your stomach feel full, drinking water can limit your alcohol consumption, and the calories that come with it.
  • Choose your portions wisely. Keeping your portions small, relatively low in fat and calories, and reasonably healthy allows you to sample more of the foods you love.
  • Eat slowly. With all the tasty food in front of you, it’s easy to want to dig in. However, savoring your food by eating slowly allows you to feel full before diving into a second helping.



Page Last Modified: 03/17/2014
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