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Claire Posted by Claire Blais, RD, CDE, LDN

Claire is a Registered Dietician at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.




The leaves are turning colors and falling to the ground.  The air is crisp in the morning, and you need to turn the heat on at night.  The Patriots have picked up where the Red Sox left off.  Fall is officially here, and so is Thanksgiving.  It can be challenging to survive this food-focused holiday without overindulging.  Using MyPlate will help you enjoy your Thanksgiving favorites while staying on track.

You’ll remember that one of the main points of MyPlate is portion control.  All foods have a place on the plate, but you should eat larger portions of fruits and vegetables with smaller portions of meats and starches.  The good thing about Thanksgiving is that, while there is a TON of food, there are usually also a TON of vegetables.  Squash, turnips, beets, carrots, green beans, salad – if you load up on the vegetables, there is simply less room on the plate for the other foods. This doesn’t mean skipping the other foods, but by taking up most of the real estate on your plate with veggies, you’re forced to control the portion of stuffing, turkey, and mashed potatoes – items that often pack in hundreds of calories.

A few other helpful tips to keep in mind for the big meal:TurkeyOnServingDish

  • Be mindful of hidden sources of fats and sugars.  Green bean casserole is high in fat.  Mashed potatoes are made with cream and butter.  Canned cranberry sauce is high in sugar.  Instead, choose steamed green beans with spray butter, plain baked potatoes, and cranberry sauce made with whole cranberries.
  • Watch the portion of the obvious fats!  Use a spoon for gravy rather than pouring it out of the gravy boat.  Use spray butter on vegetables and rolls.
  • Let go of the leftovers! If you’re dining at someone else’s house, don’t take food home, or only take the vegetables.  If you’re the one hosting, then send your guests home with the leftovers.
  • Don’t make leftovers!  We’re programmed to “super size” when it comes to Thanksgiving, but there’s no rule that says the meal needs to be enormous.  Does your family of four really need a 12-pound turkey, or would a 3-pound turkey breast suffice?  Do you need three different kinds of pie, or could you all decide on one for this year and one for next year?
It’s also important to remember Thanksgiving is about time with family, not time with food.  There will be plenty of room on MyPlate for family bonding – what about yours?

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