The traditional Thanksgiving meal served today looks quite a bit different than the first celebration years ago. Instead of turkey being the center attention, pilgrims and Native Americans feasted on dishes such as deer and seafood. Side dishes were simpler and included plain cranberries and blueberries, not the sugar-rich cranberry sauce served today.

Have a Healthier Thanksgiving

Holidays are a time to celebrate, and no food should be off limits. Making a few different choices can help you enjoy the meal without the worry.

  • Practice portion control by making your meat choice the size of a deck of cards, which is about 3-4 ounces; keep starchy sides like stuffing to a ½ cup serving, about the size of half of a baseball
  • Don’t skip meals Thanksgiving Day because you’ll be tempted to overeat
  • Fill up on vegetables first so there’s isn’t a lot of room for starches and sweets
  • Replace potatoes and stuffing with quinoa, which is rich in protein and other nutrients
  • Eat roasted sweet potatoes instead of candied sweet potatoes to save calories and reduce your sugar intake
  • Make one trip to the buffet; use leftover turkey for sandwiches the next day
  • Stay active; take a family walk after dinner

Bonus tip: It’s not the tryptophan in turkey that makes you drowsy after a Thanksgiving meal. The high carbohydrate content of the side dishes causes lethargy.

Try some of these ingredient swaps for your cooking and baking recipes.