Holidays, and especially Thanksgiving, may seem like a nutritional nightmare with large quantities of foods high in fat and sugar. You don't have to give up all of your favorites to celebrate a happy - and healthy - holiday. Use a three-step approach for Thanksgiving and any other holiday to enjoy family favorites, establish new traditions, and promote good health.

Step one: what is most important about the holiday? Most likely mashed potatoes and gravy aren't more important than being with family, celebrating with friends, or taking part in religious activities. What does the holiday truly mean to you and your family?

Step two: look for balance in your food choices. Include vegetables along with stuffing, opt for fresh fruit as one of your dessert options, and provide plenty of calorie-free beverages for everyone to enjoy.

Step three: fit in time for exercise. Some families play flag football in the back yard or go for a walk after the holiday meal. Our boys always looked forward to sledding with their cousins as part of their holiday traditions.

I asked several friends to share the healthy holiday traditions they enjoy with their families. Use their suggestions to establish new family traditions: Participate in the 17th Annual Running of the Turkeys 5K (3.1 miles) event in Arlington on Thanksgiving morning. This is a fun, no pressure event that welcomes walkers and runners of every age and ability.


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There's even a 1K fun run for the kids.

Make foods from scratch and encourage everyone in the family to pitch in and help out in the kitchen. When we cook from scratch we control the fat, sugar and salt content of foods.

Schedule the holiday meal later in the day so you don't end up eating a big meal twice in one day.

Use the traditional family china. Plates made more than 20 years ago are 1-2" smaller than today's plates. When we eat from a smaller plate, we automatically eat almost 30 percent less.

Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, cPT is a health, food and fitness coach in Manchester and online at www.LynnGrieger.com. You'll find her volunteering at the Running of the Turkeys in Arlington on Thanksgiving morning.