Dietitian discusses strategies for a delicious and healthy Thanksgiving

Nov. 22—ANDERSON — Turkey, stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie are enough for anybody to be thankful for. But with the average Thanksgiving meal containing thousands of calories, some may wonder if indulging is worth it.

"Those who can, get some fruits, get some veggies, eat a balanced meal, but still let yourself enjoy the foods that we don't get to have all year," said Alexis Kampe, a dietitian for Ascension St. Vincent Indianapolis.

Some normal Thanksgiving dishes can be nutritious. Kampe said fruit salads, even with whipped cream or vegetables like corn, even in a casserole, still hold nutritional value.

Turkey was another nutrient dense item she mentioned. A serving of turkey, which is the size of a deck of cards, contains about 30 grams of protein, according an entry from the University of Illinois Extension.

Salt and butter were mentioned by Kampe as things to watch out for. Oils of any sort were recommended instead of butter.

She said oils are generally more heart healthy. Garlic powder, chili powder, rosemary and other seasonings, were recommended as possible substitutes for salt.

"If you use less salt and add on other seasonings, it's going to be a more flavorful dish overall and you're not going to miss the extra salt," she said.

Sugar can be another issue, especially when it comes to desserts. A slice of pumpkin pie without whipped cream could contain as much as 25 grams of sugar, according to a Consumer Reports article.

Kampe recommended lower sugar or sugar free options for those concerned about their sugar intake.

Eating breakfast and/or lunch prior to the main event could prevent overeating as well as painful bloating and other related forms of discomfort, she said.

"Give kids small responsibilities or safe activities to do, like taking those Cuties (little Mandarins) and peeling them and putting them into a bowl, or just giving them some kind of task to do that way they can be involved in the process and see how food is made. I always think that's fun," she said.

Those looking for a time to get active before or after their feast can enter events like the Gobble Wobble in Pendleton or the Wishbone 5K in Fishers, which includes a kids run.

Those and other runs are posted on the Running in the USA website.

Follow Caleb Amick on Twitter @AmickCaleb. Contact him at or 765-648-4254.