Have a happy (and healthy) Thanksgiving, Portland!

Prepare yourself for the upcoming festivities with these healthy tips

With the changing leaves and pouring rain comes the holiday season in Portland. It’s a time for family and friends, parties and a traditional increase of calories consumed. Doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic encourage all of our neighbors to enjoy the holidays while staying focused on health and wellness. That way your holiday treats won’t turn into weight you have to lose come the new year.

Thanksgiving is known as a time to indulge in big meals with a high concentration of fat and sugar. While it may be comforting and fun to take a little break from a healthy diet, the Calorie Control Council has found that the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Turkey Day alone. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to combat the high-calorie holiday meal:

Stay active

The key to burning those Thanksgiving calories and maintaining a healthy weight is through physical activity.


  • The Turkey Trot held at the Oregon Zoo will start your day on active footing with a four-mile run through Washington Park.
  • Plan a friendly football game with family.
  • Hit the gym and work up a sweat to kick-start your metabolism for the day.
  • Schedule a post-meal walk to help with digestion and burn off some of that delicious Thanksgiving food. Any type of exercise helps!

An all-day eating affair

Food plays a large role in Thanksgiving celebrations, but there are ways to limit your intake and/or consume a mix of healthy and indulgent fare.

  • Eat a hearty breakfast full of fiber and protein to fuel your pre-dinner activities, which will keep you full longer. Don’t go to Thanksgiving dinner on an empty stomach.
  • Snack throughout the day with fruits, vegetables, low-fat unprocessed cheeses and whole grain foods to help curb your appetite.
  • Limit your unhealthy options by simply sampling them. Fill your plate with lean meat and vegetables (not doused in butter, of course).

Thanksgiving dinner

While the traditional meal calls for all of the trimmings, there are plenty of healthy alternatives for a satisfying Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Increase the variety of side dishes for your meal, focusing on high-fiber, low-fat options, such as fresh fruits and roasted or raw vegetables. Brighten up your Thanksgiving plate with these healthy, colorful alternatives.
  • Opt for substitutions: Replace sour cream with Greek yogurt; consider avocado or olive oil instead of butter, whole grain rolls rather than white bread, fresh cranberry sauce rather than canned; etc. In many cases, healthy substitutions have little effect on or can actually enhance the taste of traditional dishes.
  • Use smaller plates, spoons and cups to reduce the serving size of food and drinks. You may be less inclined to fill yourself up as quickly.
  • Drink fewer alcoholic or other high-calorie beverages.
  • Of course, skipping dessert is always another option to curb sugar and fat intake . . .

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, maintain a healthy lifestyle or simply opting for a few alternative choices for yourself as the year ends, The Portland Clinic has a wealth of experts in the nutrition and physical activity fields to consult. If you have any questions about healthy Thanksgiving choices or workout routines, and would like to make an appointment, please contact The Portland Clinic at 503-223-3113 or visit ThePortlandClinic.com (please note, we cannot provide medical advice to nonpatients).