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Achieve a healthy Thanksgiving through nutrition and exercise

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Thanksgiving: an entire holiday devoted to eating. Forget the distractions of gift giving or religious commitments. This one’s about food, with a side of family and friends. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat until you pass out.

Weiss dietitian Paulette West said it’s important to monitor the foods we consume. “Eating too much or not enough of the nutrients may contribute to various diseases, especially if there is a family history of such diseases,” she said.

And even though Thanksgiving is just one day, it’s typically considered the start of the holiday season—a time of baked goods, cocktail parties and lots of food. Fend off the start of the winter weight season with these healthy recipes for Thanksgiving dinner. Then, pick a work out buddy and make sure to exercise the next day to balance your Thanksgiving meal.

These recipes will help you create a balanced meal for your Thanksgiving feast and for your holiday parties for the rest of the season.


Apple Slaw: The New York Times has an excellent recipe for slaw involving honey, apples, radishes and red cabbage.


Spiced Carrot-Apple Soup with Fresh Mint: The food blog Epicurious highlights this recipe, which is low in calories and high in fiber.

Main Course:

Pear, Prosciutto and Hazelnut Stuffing: Eating Well offers this diabetes-appropriate holiday favorite, low in saturated fat.


Lemon-Garlic Roast Turkey with White Wine Gravy: Eating Well also features a recipe using an organic turkey in place of a conventional supermarket turkey. You create your own lower-sodium brine to keep the meat juicy without the added salt.


Mulled Red Wine Sangria: The Food Network offers up a recipe made with heart-healthy red wine and immune-boosting orange juice.


Water: Calorie-free, it will keep you hydrated and help ease any over-eating desires.

Exercise Tips:

After-Dinner Walk: Fight that urge to kick your feet up on the couch and instead go for a stroll after you eat. It will aid your digestion and use up more calories than taking a nap.

Clean the House: This will keep you constantly moving, bending and stretching as your scrub dishes, wax floors and dust those hard-to-reach places. Put on your favorite music and work up a sweat! Not only will you be raising your heart rate, but  your house will be ready for any guests this season.

Ten Minutes of Step-Ups: Whether you use stairs or a machine, lifting your knees in step-ups works your cardio and your gluteus muscle. Try doing them before eating to help your metabolism.

Stretch: Many of us sit all day at work and then will spend hours sitting at the table eating with our families and friends on Thanksgiving. Make sure to stretch your arms, legs, hips and upper extremity to ensure optimal flexibility and circulation.

Find a Buddy and Don’t Quit: Make sure you continue exercising throughout the winter for your physical and mental health. Working out with a friend often makes this easier and will keep you more motivated.

And remember: Exercising is a key factor in achieving Health for Life, but so is nutrition. When you’re sitting down to the Thanksgiving turkey this Thursday, know that it is a food lower in fat than most other kinds of meat, but the key—as with everything—is portion control.

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