Turkey dilemma: How to keep your Thanksgiving healthy

By Trilby Goouch and Julia Vriend

Journal Staff

Most Thanksgiving weekends are centered around food; roast turkey, gravy, stuffing and the quintessential pumpkin pie. Though delicious, Thanksgiving meals are generous in calories, which may conflict with nutritional and fitness goals. Holiday meals are meant to be savored and enjoyed with family — no one wants to spoil a holiday feast with calorie counting. So how exactly does one go about holiday eating without sacrificing health goals? QJBlogs is here to keep both your taste buds, and waistline happy.


Try to keep yourself occupied with a drink of some sort when there are circulating cheese and olive trays. Sparkling water, wine or water are good options. This will give you something to hold during hors d’oeuvres and consuming liquids before a big meal tends to cause you to eat less. Don’t be afraid to indulge in a few bites, but everything in moderation.


Did you know that a normal serving size of meat should be palm-size? Keep that in mind while you’re dishing turkey onto your plate. Another way to keep your health goals in check is to fill your plate with vegetables, be it brussel sprouts, carrots, or green beans.

Cranberry sauce

Though fruit-based it’s high in sugar, so keep it to a small serving of 2-3 tbsp.


A Thanksgiving staple which traditionally comes from turkey drippings. Enjoy this rich side in small doses; drizzle a small amount at first and if you feel you need more drizzle accordingly. A little goes a long way due to its rich flavour.


Practice portion control with this. The oils and high-simple carbohydrate content translates to high calories, so stick to a couple of scoops. The same can be applied to mashed potatoes. If stuffing or mashed potatoes are your favourite part of the meal, go for 2 scoops but halve your serving of whipped cream or gravy.


The classic, Pumpkin Pie with whip cream to boot

We suggest asking for a small slice of dessert or better yet serve yourself. Don’t feel pressured to clean your plate. Try going with the 50/50 rule: eat half and check in with your hunger and satisfaction levels. If you’re still craving more, eat another half and pause. According to French Women Don’t Get Fat, the highest level of satisfaction occurs in the first three bites.

The next day

Leftovers are a staple of a post-Thanksgiving dinner. Try a turkey sandwich (made popular by the hit T.V. show Friends) with whole grain bread, using gravy as your spread. Then add a thin layer of stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potato. Finish it off with 30 seconds in the microwave.

Remember that you won’t be eating foods this rich everyday; indulge in moderation and savor this home-cooked meal. Most importantly, don’t feel you need to restrict yourself the following day. Holidays are a time of enjoyment, not guilt! Good luck, and bon appetit!

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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