What a Dietitian eats for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here! Can you believe it? Where has the time gone? Seriously, how is it already November? I love Thanksgiving so much, arguably better than Christmas. Here’s why: it’s the start of the holiday season. There I am, laying on the living room floor in a pile of warm bodies, surrounded by my loved ones, watching a movie, or rather falling asleep with a movie on. I’m so at peace at the end of the night because I know in just a few weeks, there will be a repeat of this moment. Full bellies, family cuddle puddle, and good food!

As a dietitian, I find most people are watching my plate, even family members, to see what I’m eating and to validate their choices. You do not need anyone to validate your food choices for you. Know that! So, in the interest of transparency and authenticity, I’m going to tell you exactly what I need to have on my plate at Thanksgiving dinner to feel completely satisfied.

I always need a scoop of mashed potatoes and my dad’s famous mushroom gravy. I don’t care if you think you don’t like mushrooms; once you try this gravy, you’ll see mushrooms in a completely different light. My cousin’s boyfriend HATE mushrooms and refuses to eat them...and he practically drinks this gravy every year.

Of course, there’s always turkey on my plate. It’s usually dark meat but there is a mixture of both dark and light meat on my plate. And yes, you guessed it, a drizzle of dad’s famous gravy on top. Oh, in case you can't tell, this turkey here is deep fried. It was the first time my family has ever done it. Usually my mom spends an entire week preparing the turkey ahead of time but due to certain circumstances, she wasn't able to last year. So my dad valiantly stepped in and deep fried that bird. It was delicious.

The next few dishes depend on where I am eating thanksgiving dinner. If I’m eating at my parent’s house, we always have a mixture of green veggies or a salad at the table. I like to fill half my plate with greens, even on Thanksgiving. Our family uses a homemade citrus dressing for our salads, which makes an appearance at the dinner table.

Lastly, no matter what happens, Thanksgiving is not complete without a slice of cornbread made with creamed corn, jalapenos, and a little cheddar cheese.

To some of you, this seems incredibly unhealthy and you’ve discredited me as a dietitian. That’s fine, except you need to know that portion sizes matter more than anything you eat. Thanksgiving is infamous as a time for over-stuffing our stomachs and eating past the point of satisfied. My biggest tip is to start small. Get a small scoop of everything you want to eat. Don’t judge yourself for your selections. Just eat what you want and don’t apologize to anyone. If you’re still hungry once you finish your first plate, go back and get another scoop of those dishes you love so much. Eat slowly, enjoy it all and remember - there are always leftovers!

Enjoy this time with your loved ones, whether they’re friends or family members.