Recipe for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Abby Read, MS, RDN, LD

Wellness Coach and Program Coordinator

Methodist Health System 

We love Thanksgiving. It’s a time to be with friends and family, reflect on what you’re grateful for, engage in holiday games and traditions, and indulge in your favorite Thanksgiving recipes. But Thanksgiving can also bring an unwanted visitor — stress. You can stress over family dynamics and seasonal financial burdens. You can even worry about how to enjoy yourself without sacrificing your health.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can actually put thankfulness back into Thanksgiving. Here are a few tips to help you create a happy, healthy holiday.

Five tips for a healthy Thanksgiving

  • Set healthy boundaries. If holidays bring up stress and anxiety for you, start by setting boundaries to help ease your mind. This could mean setting a budget that is communicated from the beginning, making clear rules around family drama, or excusing yourself from certain activities. Prioritize your mental well-being, and the holiday may turn out smoother than you thought.
  • Tweak your plate. Indulging in holiday foods is one of the highlights of Thanksgiving, but you can enjoy them without sacrificing your health goals. Switch up some of the recipes for healthier versions: dressing made with whole-grain bread cubes and apples; a green bean casserole with fresh green beans and crunchy baked onions; or air-fryer-roasted sweet potatoes. Add other roasted vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts and include a fresh spinach salad with apples, cranberries, and pecans. And don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water!
  • Get moving. Cooler weather makes it easier to get outside and do something you enjoy such as walking, hiking, biking, throwing a Frisbee, playing tennis, or flying a kite. Pick something active that brings you joy and make that part of the holiday.
  • Remember gratitude. The constant stress and burden that the pandemic has put on our lives can make it easy to fall into a negative thought spiral. Remember the things you are grateful for. Then write them down. This can help reframe your mindset and put you in a state of positive thinking even in the midst of the holiday chaos.
  • Be present. Want to really stay present and enjoy your loved ones during the holidays? Unplug from technology and social media. Scrolling through social media can lead to comparing yourself to others and feeling bad about it. Checking in on the latest news stories and listening to outside chatter can also keep you from being in the moment. Give yourself a mental break from your news feed. Focus on creating memories instead.

Follow these tips, and you may find yourself doing something unexpected this Thanksgiving. Feeling thankful.

If you’re looking for an organization that is committed to the well-being of its employees on holidays and every other day, take a look at Methodist Health System. Visit us at

© Methodist Health System