We are just a few days away from Thanksgiving. Depending upon any health issues that you or family members might have, you may need to make adjustments to your favorite and familiar holiday recipes to accommodate your/their needs. This might include making ingredient alterations for high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease and GERD or acid reflux.

Health-ready for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Meal Asparagus

We are just a few days away from Thanksgiving. Depending upon any health issues that you or family members might have, you may need to make adjustments to your favorite and familiar holiday recipes to accommodate your/their needs. This might include making ingredient alterations for high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease and GERD or acid reflux. Here are some menu planning tips: 

Celiac disease means providing some dishes that are gluten-free. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. Include in your meal:

  • A fresh turkey that has not been injected with a gluten-containing broth
  • Rice or quinoa stuffing for stuffing rather than traditional bread or corn bread stuffing
  • Baked, grilled or oven-roasted fresh vegetables
  • Dresh fruit and vegetable salads
  • Pumpkin mousse or pudding rather than a pumpkin pie that has the flour-containing crust

Folks with diabetes will want to be careful with the portion sizes of high-carbohydrate starchy foods. Carbohydrates can spike glucose levels. Include in your meal:

  • Non-starchy vegetables (greens, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, squash) and salads
  • Small servings of starches – potatoes, stuffing, mac n’ cheese, breads and rolls
  • Baked pears and apples for a delicious, simple holiday dessert

High blood pressure requires ingredients with minimal salt/sodium content. Include in your meal:

  • A fresh turkey that has not been injected with a salty broth solution
  • Homemade stuffing and gravy that have not been pre-salted
  • Fresh, frozen or unsalted canned vegetables
  • Flavorful herbs, spices, garlic and onions for seasoning rather than salt or seasoned salts

Although Thanksgiving Day is well-known for overindulging in food, its purpose is to enjoy time with family and friends. The whole food prep process can really be fun and a family activity but you might need to evaluate some of the ingredients in recipes to see if there should be adjustments for health issues. Salt and sugar are easy to omit or reduce. Prepping from scratch with fresh ingredients keeps out some of the unnecessary additives that ramp up the sodium content. Anyone with GERD or reflux will hopefully eat a little bit less. Planning menus around the non-starchy vegetables is great for everyone, no matter their health. And everyone will benefit from a gentle 20-minute walk after dinner. This can help digestion, prevent blood sugar spikes, and provide distance from the end of dinner and having a light dessert several hours later.

Recipes to try:


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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.