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Mindful Eating Tips to Ensure a Stress Free Thanksgiving
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Olivia Fassino

Written by Olivia Fassino, dietetics student

As we head into the holiday season, it’s hard not to fall in love with the colors of changing leaves, sweet smelling candles, and cooler temperatures. But let’s be honest, the thing we’ve all been waiting for is Thanksgiving food! Whether you’re a fan of green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, or pumpkin pie, you’re bound to find a dish that warms your soul and makes you smile on Thanksgiving day. Although many of us are not gathering like we usually do, we still have the opportunity to enjoy all that Thanksgiving brings; gratitude, thankfulness, love, joy, and delicious food.

It can be a bit overwhelming to stare out at a table full of stuffing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes and more. These items aren’t things we eat on a daily basis, therefore it’s tempting to fill your plate with just about everything. Although this may seem like a good idea in the moment, you most likely won’t feel very good afterwards. Here are a few tips focused on mindful eating and portion sizing to help you fight that urge, while still enjoying all your favorite Thanksgiving indulgences.

Mindful eating is something you can practice all year round, but can be extra helpful to keep in mind during the holidays. It’s natural to feel stressed or bored and instantly reach for food when you may not necessarily be hungry. The idea of mindful eating is about pausing for a moment to be intentional about why and what you’re eating. Here’s a few ways to apply this on Thanksgiving.

  1. Focus on more than just the food. What’s one thing you’re thankful for this year- a family member, a friend, health, the weather, your puppy?
  2. Eat breakfast and don’t come starving. You may think it’s a good idea to skip meals on Thanksgiving day, but this isn’t what’s best for your body and will likely lead to overeating.
  3. Start off with a small portion. Instead of filling your plate to the sky, start with small servings of a few of your favorite items. Having a plate with a bit of everything allows you to enjoy all the flavors, without an aching stomach.
  4. Listen to your body. There’s no reason to label some foods as bad and some as good. If you’ve been so excited to try the pumpkin pie, allow yourself to indulge in it! After all, it is Thanksgiving and you don’t want to feel deprived.
  5. Slow down and savor the flavors of each bite. Did you know it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you are feeling full?

Another way to eat healthy on Thanksgiving is by focusing on portion sizes. A great tip is to choose a salad plate instead of a standard dinner plate. Start by filling it with your favorite vegetables. A good rule of thumb is to take a baseball sized serving of roasted vegetables, like green beans, Brussels sprouts, or roasted carrots. Try to focus on vegetables cooked with olive oil rather than cream. When choosing your slice of turkey, opt for a palm size amount. Add some gravy if you’d like, but know that it’s just as flavorful without! To finish off your plate, take a baseball sized scoop of starch, such as sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, or stuffing.

You’re probably hungry at this point. Here’s a few recipes for some delicious sides and desserts. If these recipes are a little more out of the box than you’re used to, no need to fear. This may be the year you try something new!

Fluffy Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Carrots 

Multigrain Bread Stuffing with Sausage and Herbs

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Cinnamon Butternut Squash

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

Healthy Skillet Cornbread


Cranberry Crumble Bars
Pecan-Date Pie


Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Whipped Cream

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