Water down the feast we look forward to all year? Never! Make no mistake: Taking a health-minded approach to your Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to mean skipping out on your favorite dishes—or pie, for that matter.
Part of the beauty of Thanksgiving, after all, is the sheer variety of the traditional spread: With your pick of hearty vegetables and proteins (and did we mention pie?), crafting a relatively nutritious plate might be easier than you think. It’s all a matter of keeping a few pro tips in mind—and for that, we turned to our resident nutritionist and Director of Scientific Affairs, Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD.
Seriously—don’t skip your favorites.
“I personally do not recommend avoiding specific foods unless they provide empty calories,” says Mastaneh. Read: soda, candy, and other foods that provide virtually no nutritional value. That means that if you’re sticking to a traditional Thanksgiving feast, most of it is probably fair game. Not a bad start, right?
Don’t let variety trip up your tastebuds.
While having your pick of delicious options is great in theory, it can also mess with your hunger cues. “Nutritional research has shown that variety can override sensory specific satiety and leads to overeating (1),” she explains. Her advice: “Focus on the special foods that Thanksgiving is all about to you and leave other options such as appetizers and non-festive desserts for other days.”