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Eat lunch, use a small plate — Ohio State dietitians offer health tips for Thanksgiving

Making Thanksgiving dinner together is as fun as eating it. (Ryan Liebe/FamilyFun Magazine/TNS)

Ohio State dietitians advise to eat meals throughout the day, even if Thanksgiving dinner is the main attraction. Credit: TNS

However satisfying turkey, green-bean casserole and mashed potatoes might be on Thanksgiving, the annual meal of gratitude can sometimes lead to overeating and lethargy. But dietitians at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center say there are measures to prevent dietary discomfort this Thanksgiving.

To make sure food is enjoyable, and not detrimental, Lauren Blake, manager of sports nutrition and a sports dietitian at the Wexner Center, said to eat throughout Thanksgiving day and not “save up all of (your) calories.”

“I always recommend not to eat heavy at every meal, but really start your day off with good, whole-food protein source, a good carbohydrate (and) a light lunch,” said Lauren Blake, manager of sports nutrition and sports dietitian at the Wexner Medical Center. “That’s going to help you not feel so hungry, so that you don’t completely load up on your plate.”

Ashlea Braun, a registered dietitian at the Wexner Center, also said not to skip earlier meals in the day.

“As tempting as it sounds, it can be a little counterproductive,” Braun said. “Because then you go into your big meal and you’re hungry, so you can be a little ravenous and overeat.”

Blake said that for some people, eating a large volume of food in a short amount of time can lead to indigestion, heartburn and increased blood sugar.

A high-fat meal, which Blake said is typical for Thanksgiving dinner, digests much slower than a meal of simple carbohydrates or vegetables.

“Any time you’re eating a huge meal, your body is working really hard to digest all of that,” Blake said. “When we have to produce a lot (of insulin to break down the sugar), it just makes us really tired. It’s those energy ups and downs that definitely lead to a sluggish feeling.”

By eating consistently throughout the day, blood sugar stays pretty even.

“We’ll feel better, and it’s better for our overall weight control as well,” Blake said.

Blake also gave advice on how to portion one’s plate: Fill half of the plate with vegetables, a fourth with turkey and a fourth with carbohydrates.

“That’s a good way to feel like you’re not restricting what you’re eating,” Blake said. “It’s automatically going to be a much more balanced meal with half of those vegetables.”

Braun said many people like the method of using a smaller plate, which then leads to eating smaller portions. She also said to look at all the options before picking something.

“If you don’t really like turkey, don’t eat it. If you like green bean casserole, maybe go for a small portion of that,” Braun said. “Enjoy what you eat, as opposed to eating just for the sake of eating because it’s there in front of you.”

Braun added another tip: Practice saying no.

“If you’re offered food and you don’t want to eat it, don’t be afraid to tell people that you don’t want something,” she said.  

Although Blake said it is important to make good decisions with food, she also recognized the societal significance of Thanksgiving.

“Food is more than just fuel; it’s emotional, social, it should be fun,” she said.

One comment

  1. These people just can’t help themselves. I can just see people sitting their figuring what a quarter of the plate should be filled with. Give is a break from the nannies.

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