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Serve a balanced Thanksgiving meal with foods from all the food groups.

Posted on Nov 20, 2009 by Maggie LaBarbera

Thanksgiving meals and healthy eating aren't usually found in the same sentence.balanced_meal

But it really doesn't have to be that way. This meal, just as any other, should be comprised from healthy foods from all the food groups. The key is including the healthy foods and watching the portion sizes. We often eat way too much of one type of food at the expense of other food groups.

Teach your children to enjoy a holiday meal with the traditional foods of Thanksgiving from all the food groups.

Meat and Beans Food Group: (this one is easy) turkey, ham or roast. They key to this food group is to go lean and not too much. The white meat is leaner than the dark meat. And you can lower the fat by removing the skin.

Amount: Teach your child to get a piece of meat that is about the size of the palm of your hand. That is about 3-4 ounces of meat.

If you are vegetarian, make sure you have protein in your holiday meal from tofu, beans, nuts or soy.

Tip: gravy is not in the meat group and is high in calories, add sparingly for flavor.

Grains Food Group: Thanksgiving is usually full of foods from the grains group. But often it is not the whole wheat or whole grains version. (If it is white than most of the nutrients have been processed out) A roll, slice of bread, cup or stuffing, rice or pasta are all servings from the grains group.

Amount: Teach your child to choose no more than two food items from the grains group and one of them should be whole grains.

Vegetables Food Group: Have some lightly sauteed, baked or steamed vegetables. Yes, potato is a vegetable but it loses so much when it is fried or mashed with butter and cream. Kids need green and orange vegetables. The more color the vegetable or fruit has, the more vitamins!

Amount: Encourage the children to have at least one serving from this group. You can also put more vegetables into your stuffing, and other side dishes. A serving is a 1/2 a cup of cooked vegetables.

Fruit Food Group: Before dinner, during dinner and after dinner, fruit is a great complement to any meal. Fresh fruit will jazz up a salad or a side dish. Avoid offering your child fruit juices as your child's fruit serving for dinner. Juice is high in sugar. Fruit can be put on top of a small piece of dessert!

Amount: Encourage your child to have one to serving of fruit. A serving is a 1/2 cup of fruit or a medium sized whole fruit.

Milk Food Group: This is the ideal drink of choice. For lactose intolerant children, there are lactose free version. It is high in calcium and vitamin D. Just look for low fat or nonfat milk.

There is still room for a little of the other foods that really aren't part of the food groups (the once in a while treats) but if you help your child start with the five food groups, there will be less room for the other foods and they will be getting the vitamins and nutrients they need.

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving nutrition quick links- new tip sheets and free printables from Nourish Interactive:

Printable Thanksgiving Food Shopping List Food Pyramid based grocery shopping guide for holiday foods

Holiday Recipes- Healthy Ingredients Substitutions Guide Organized by food group, find easy ways to make your favorite holiday meal healthier!.

How to prepare for a healthy Thanksgiving Article with specific step by step guide to creating a healthy Thanksgiving meal for the whole family.

Fun nutrition oriented Thanksgiving themed printable coloring pages and worksheets for kids! Food Pyramid Thanksgiving Worksheet for kids, Healthy Seasonal Veggies color in sheet,"I'm Thankful For" coloring page,Thanksgiving theme bookmarks, and healthy nutrition lunch notes for kids.

Fun Thanksgiving Coloring Pages for Kids





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