For many people, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to enjoy some favorite foods. From pie to stuffing to mashed potatoes, the holiday classics are often hard to resist – and sometimes come with a serving of guilt.

When it comes to your overall health goals, choosing to indulge in an extra piece of pie once a year will not have a major impact. Emily Gelsomin, RD, senior clinical outpatient dietitian and the co-director of Be Fit, says that on Thanksgiving, focus should be on one’s family and the time spent with them.

“When you look at health outcomes and reducing disease risk, one day really won't make a difference,” Gelsomin says. “Guilt isn’t an ingredient. It’s not a side dish at Thanksgiving, so it’s really OK for people to enjoy the food they want to.”

Despite their reputations, not all Thanksgiving staples are completely unhealthy. Pumpkin pie, for example, might be a great dessert option since it contains a large amount of fruit and only has one layer of crust. Other good selections can include appetizers like fruit and cheese platters and stuffed mushrooms. Gelsomin says light snacks can help people avoid the discomfort and fatigue that they often experience post-turkey.

“I like to tell people to fill up a little bit before dinner so that they’re still going into the meal hungry, but not so much that they end up overdoing it,” Gelsomin says. “Make sure you still eat all of your regular meals beforehand.” 

Cliff Seeto, the general manager of The Clubs at Charles River Park and co-director of Be Fit, suggests going for a short walk to avoid dozing off on the couch after dinner.

“Whether you go out before or after dinner, it’ll help you digest and feel better,” Seeto says. “You can walk with family, and maybe try playing some more active games if you have younger kids.”