How to Have a Happy and Healthier Thanksgiving

Amelia Quigley, Dietetic Intern

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, which means it’s almost time to make all your favorite traditional recipes for one of the biggest meals of the year. If you’re anything like me, you start your day with a nice breakfast while you watch the Macy’s Day Parade. The rest of your day is filled with preparing turkey and other favorite recipes that fill your house with delicious aromas. You might even play a friendly game of football or take a nice walk around the block. Then you sit down for a big feast and eat all your favorite foods until you can’t eat any more. You end the evening feeling sluggish and bloated, wishing you hadn’t eaten that last piece of pie.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone wants to indulge a little on Turkey Day, as you should! But what if you could enjoy a delicious, fulfilling Thanksgiving meal and leave without feeling like you need to unbutton your pants on the way home? Here’s a few tips to have a healthier, and happier Thanksgiving this year:

  • Don’t skip breakfast! Breakfast is an essential part of any day, especially Thanksgiving Day. It will jump start your metabolism and make you feel more full. You are less likely to overeat at dinner if you don’t starve yourself all day.
  • Make half of your Thanksgiving plate vegetables and make them colorful! Eating vegetables first will make you feel fuller faster, which will limit the amount of other high calorie foods you consume. You can cook them in some olive oil, salt and pepper, and add some nuts or craisins for a yummy, festive touch.
  • Try to choose the white meat from your turkey. White meat is leaner and more heart-healthy, while dark meat and turkey skin is higher in fat.
  • Drink plenty of water. Drink 6-8 classes throughout the day to keep you full between meals and help revitalize your body.
  • What about dessert? Did you know you can use half the amount of sugar in most dessert recipes, such as pies and quick breads and still have a delicious treat?
  • Lastly, when you’re done eating your meal, don’t linger around the table! This promotes unnecessary snacking. Bring the party to another room and enjoy some board games or good conversation.

Here’s a great pumpkin bread recipe from, modified with half the amount sugar and oil, but just as delicious and moist!

Down East Maine Pumpkin Bread


  • ½ (15 oz.) can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one, 5×7 loaf pan.
  2. In large bowl, mix pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, applesauce, water, and sugar until well blended. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for about 55 minutes. Test center with toothpick.

Recipe from