Don’t let COVID-19 ruin your Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here. Where did the year go? Oh, right, it went to COVID-19. Well, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and COVID-19… you are not going to ruin it!

Are you feeling the same way? With some minor adjustments, you can have a healthy, happy and COVID-compliant Thanksgiving Day celebration!

First, we must mention the elephant in the room: COVID-19 and social distancing. Stay safe this Thanksgiving by attending smaller celebrations of 4-6 people and continue to put some distance between you and the next person. Are you used to a large gathering? Consider having satellite parties on Zoom! Instead of 10-plus people getting together at one location, break off into smaller groups and have a zoom call with the other groups. You can still enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, visit with each other and stay safe. As always, wash your hands with antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds and wear a mask when not eating.

Now on to the good stuff. Let’s talk food!

I am a registered dietitian who believes in a balanced plate. This means there are not any foods completely off limits! That’s right, bring on the carbs and sweets – but also the veggies and lean protein. All foods are invited the party even when, due to COVID-19, people are not. It all comes down to portion control and frequency.

Learn how to balance your plate:

  • Choose a 9-inch plate. Automatically helps with portion control.
  • Divide the plate in half.
    • The entire right side of the plate should be all non-starchy veggies like salad, steamed broccoli, carrots. These veggies would preferably not be in casserole form since there are typically high in some sort of carbohydrate.
  • Divide the second half of the plate in half again.
    • One of the halves will be a lean protein, turkey or tofurkey
    • The other half is where your carbohydrate goes, ex potatoes, mac-n-cheese, rolls, etc.
  • Other guidelines:
    • Only serve yourself your favorite foods
    • Don’t mound food up.
    • Don’t go back for seconds.
    • This is a special occasion so desserts are still welcomed at the table. Just pick one dessert to enjoy, monitor your portion sizes and try not to take any extra home with you.

Set yourself up for success by preparing foods that are delicious and nutritious at the same time. See below for some ideas:

  • Eliminate appetizers. They add unnecessary calories to the day and take up room in your belly that is meant for Thanksgiving deliciousness.
  • Start with a salad. “Salads” made with whip cream or jello don’t count. Lean towards salads with zero/light cheese and a light vinaigrette. I’ve included one of my family’s favorites.
  • Sub out casseroles for lighter dishes. For example, try Simple Skillet Green Beans instead of a green bean casseroles or roasted sweet potatoes for sweet potato casserole.
  • Eliminate beverages with calories. Stick with water and unsweetened or diet beverages.
  • Bake, smoke or grill your meat. Frying meat adds unnecessary calories.

Do your best to incorporate some physical activity into Thanksgiving Day. Hit the gym or do an at-home workout. A walk is great choice too! Do something to get your body moving and your heart rate up. This will help burn extra calories.

Finally, however you celebrate this year, remember to focus on the things for which you are grateful. 2020 has been a doozy of a year, to say the least! There are, no doubt, still elements to appreciate.

Try some of these healthy and delicious recipes at your Thanksgiving feast. All recipes serve 4-6 people.

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About Nicole McGloshen, MS, RDN, LD

Nicole McGloshen MS, RDN, LD is the registered dietitian for UofL Health – Mary & Elizabeth Hospital’s Weight Loss Center, and UofL Health’s Outpatient Diabetes and Nutrition Program. A graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a bachelor's in dietetics, Nicole completed her dietetic internship through Ball State University. She earned a master's in communications from Purdue University. Nicole uses her experience and academic training to provide evidence-based recommendations and supportive tips that will help you to succeed with lap-band surgery. Just as importantly, Nicole creates a safe space where patients can be open and honest about their relationship with food; the good, the bad and the ugly. Nicole says, “While change is hard, I firmly believe that we can do hard things! I’m here to support you on this journey; celebrate the wins and brainstorm solutions when needed."

All posts by Nicole McGloshen, MS, RDN, LD