Thanksgiving time is upon us! At Rebecca Bitzer and Associates, we spend a lot of time working with our clients to make sure that they can enjoy their Thanksgiving traditions, while still working towards reaching their nutrition goals. Thanksgiving can by tricky, because each family has different traditions, and some have different conditions that need to be managed. Check out our tips and recipes for helping you put together a Thanksgiving that will work for every condition!

How To Host A Thanksgiving For Every Condition

Heart Health

thanksgiving heart health green beans

If you or your loved one needs a heart-healthy recipe, we have the recipe for you.  This recipe is healthier spin on a traditional green bean casserole and it is much tastier.  Here are some additional heart healthy tips for your Thanksgiving meal.

  1. If you are on a sodium restriction, all you need to do is avoid the added salt on this roasted green bean recipe. A good alternative is to double up on the pepper or add a bit more fresh lemon.
  2. Try to buy your bird fresh, not injected with a sodium solution. Check the ingredients label and look for words such as “broth,” “saline” or “sodium solution.”
  3. Pay attention to fats used in cooking.  This green bean recipe has olive oil and almonds  which are heart healthy fats.
    • If you are cooking the side dishes, you can definitely substitute heart healthy fats instead of butter in the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and desserts.
    • If someone else is cooking, you can ask what fats were used or simply have smaller portions of higher fat foods. It is also good to remember that Thanksgiving is just one day so focus on being thankful and try not to  use the holiday as an excuse to overeat for a week.


thanksgiving cancer friendly dinner

Thanksgiving is a time of delicious smells, which can be hard on a loved one going through cancer. Additionally, taste changes can make food feel bland and unappetizing. Try mixing it up with the turkey this year by using lots of different herbs and spices to help with the taste changes. If you don’t want to make a whole turkey using the herb and spice mixture, try roasting this turkey breast. Bonus! You can make this delicious turkey tetrazzini with any leftovers. Try the following tips!

  1. Try cooking with more herbs and spices to help with taste changes. Certain herbs and spices can also help lower inflammation! Make sure to ask your doctor before trying any uncommon supplements.
  2. Focus on protein first so you stay nourished if your appetite is low.
  3. Have a back up meal in place that you can tolerate if you get nauseous and arent able to consume what is on the table.


So the story goes you have been following the low fodmap plan for the last X weeks, feeling better but not yet ready to add back in the foods that you have recently taken out of your diet for the time being. So you have been putting more time and energy into food prep and shopping and now you have a national eating holiday laying before you! If you are looking for some low FODMAP replacements for your thanksgiving favorites, try these pumpkin ginger soup, these gluten free cornbread muffins, or this delicious stuffing! Here are some more tips to keep your gut happy this Thanksgiving Day.  

  1. Who is hosting the meal?  Would you be comfortable talking with them prior to the meal about your needs?  Being the host of a big dinner can be stressful so here are some tips when asking your friend or family member about what you can eat on Turkey Day.
    • Ask before the big day. The day before and the day of I am sure the cook is running around addressing each kitchen timer ding and you don’t want to get trampled in the process.
    • Ask about what recipes they are using and take it upon yourself to  look them up ahead of time if they are online.
  2. Offer to bring something you know you can eat, pick your favorite and make it the Low FODMAP way for others to try!
  3. It may be easier just to simply let the host know that you will be bringing your own meal or parts of your meal.  Let them know that you don’t want them to worry about you and you don’t want to be rude by not eating their food!


diabetes thanksgiving

A lot of our clients think that they can’t enjoy Thanksgiving if they are trying to manage their diabetes. Well good news, your favorite dietitians are on the case! Instead of the classic sweet potato casserole, try these twice baked sweet potatoes instead! Here are some more tips to help you enjoy Thanksgiving while managing your diabetes.

  1. Use the plate method when at the Thanksgiving table. Portion the carbs to a 1/4 of your plate, balance the plate with another 1/4 protein and 1/2 veggies.
  2. Try adding a lower carb side dish option to this years rotation. Try substituting cauliflower or zucchini or other higher carb options to help keep your blood sugar level.
  3. Going for a light walk with family members can be a good way to help keep the blood sugar stable!

Eating Disorders

eating disorder thanksgiving

It’s important that you support your loved one in having a “normal,” balanced meal for the holiday. Just like someone would if they did not have an eating disorder. Try making this butternut squash mac and cheese for the table, and round out the meal with turkey, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and a roll. Of course, dessert like pumpkin or apple pie is a must for Thanksgiving! Here are 3 other tips to support your loved one on Thanksgiving. And be sure to check out Empowered Eating’s blog post about supporting a loved one on Thanksgiving. 

  1. Model normal eating for your loved one. Have breakfast and lunch (if thanksgiving dinner is later), to model how important it is to eat balanced meals. You do not have to “save up” calories for the big meal coming later, and it’s important to show that to your loved one. Also, work on having a balanced meal at Thanksgiving. Generally, you should have a protein, 1-2 veggies, 2 starches, a fruit (optional) and dessert.
  2. Talk to your loved one. Set aside time to talk to your loved one before Thanksgiving dinner to ask how you can support him or her. Sometimes, it is a good idea to plan out what your loved one will be doing before, during and after the meal.
    • Before. Are there tasks your loved one can do that are not food related? Can they play with a sibling, cousin, or pet? It might be a good idea to have them spend time away from the kitchen.
    • During. Are there games the family can play? What types of conversations can you have? I usually recommend to try to avoid those stressful conversations! Also, it might be a good idea for you and your loved one to come up with a code word to use in case he or she is struggling.
    • After. What are some traditions your family does? My family used to put on a Thanksgiving play! It would be a good idea to have fun things for your loved one to do to distract a bit from the meal.
  3. Have a conversation about what you and your family are thankful for. I think this discussion can bring positively to the table. I love having this conversation with my family and I think it’s so important for eating disorder recovery to focus on gratitude.

Would you like help getting ready for Thanksgiving, while still working towards reaching your nutrition goals? Make an appointment with one of our dietitians by calling 301-474-2499 or clicking here

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Whether you are a novice in the kitchen, or a seasoned chef, Dietitian Klara will work with you to help you reach your nutrition goals. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating, Cooking with Diabetes and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Guide.