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  • Writer's pictureSophia Kamveris, MS, RDN

Home For the Holidays...or Not?

This is the time of the year that I pull out a folder that’s stuffed with articles I have saved on tips to eat sensibly during the holidays. Most articles cite that a typical Thanksgiving Day marathon feast can add upwards of 3000 calories with appetizers and drinks, alone, adding up to 1000 calories. So, “pace yourself” is a common thread in expert recommendations.

But 2020 is unlike other years, so this Thanksgiving’s blogs are more focused on “virtual” celebrations. Hmm, you can’t eat virtually, so it’s all about creativity this year. A patient of mine relayed that she and a friend are going to split the cooking and will share their holiday meal with one another (half a pie, half a turkey, etc). I thought that was an interesting concept and it cuts down on leftovers, although I know that’s the best part!

As adults, we have learned to pivot and adjust to this year’s isolation—it’s the kids we worry about. And now, it’s holiday traditions that are getting messed up for them. Including them in the cooking or baking can make them feel like the holiday is happening because of their help.

I’m as guilty as the next person on this one—it’s time to get out of those leggings and sweat pants that are hidden from the Zoom lens and dress up for the day. Nothing feels like a celebration more than donning your Sunday best outfit!

No desire to cook a holiday meal? Local restaurants are offering family-size meals to-go. You get a cooking break while supporting businesses that have taken a financial hit during the pandemic. And make sure you set the table with your fine china when it’s time to eat!

Not cooking but want to fill your house with the heavenly aromas of the fall season? Pumpkin spiced candles, special blends of teas and coffees, or simmering cinnamon sticks on a stovetop will do the trick.

Consider a monetary donation to local food banks and shelters so they can provide a Thanksgiving meal with all the traditional fixings to those in need. Such acts of goodwill embody the true spirit of giving.

Our settling forefathers chose this day to pay homage, reflect on gratitude, and to acknowledge their “thanks,” but I”m pretty sure they could never imagine that centuries later we would be celebrating it over a computer. In keeping with their grateful spirit, jot down why you are thankful this holiday season and share your sentiment with family and friends over cyber space…sigh.

So, I could’t go without adding a few ideas to enjoy some sweet celebrations without all of the calories. Homemade pies allow you to control ingredients by cutting down on added sugars. I make a killer apple pie with a few tablespoons of sugar versus the one cup recommendation in so many recipes. Subbing cobblers and crisps versus a shortening pie crust will cut down on fat calories. Pumpkin mousse or trifles are easy to make and are festive-looking when served in fluted stemware. Spoon vanilla pudding (or low fat ice cream) into the bottom of the glass, add crumbled pumpkin bread, and alternate ingredients until you reach the rim. Top off with spiced pecans. Or try a yogurt- pecan/granola parfait—layer vanilla yogurt with pumpkin granola or crumbled pumpkin bread. I prefer topping it off with a dollop of real, whipped cream versus the fake whips in a tub (that are full of saturated fats). Check out for some traditional holiday recipes updated with healthier ingredients.

2020 has been a challenging year for us all but remember that the simple act of sharing truly defines the joy and sentiment of the holiday season. A.A. Milne could not have said it better: “Piglet noticed that even though he has a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”

Happy Thanksgiving!


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