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Wondering what to eat for Thanksgiving?

By Jarita Hagans, M.D.

Sometimes people feel worried or guilty about indulging in treats or comfort food on holidays. No need for that! Here are some tips to help you enjoy what you're eating but not make yourself sick.

Tip 1: Smart shopping In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, plan and prep what you will eat. When you go shopping for your Thanksgiving favorites, also buy some fresh fruits and vegetables and something to make healthy meals with Monday-Wednesday.

Tip 2: Don't starve yourself until dinner If you are diabetic or prediabetic, limit your starch to no more than one handful. If you want to taste different starches or carbs, have a tablespoon of mac+ cheese, one of stuffing and one of yams.

Tip 3: Enjoy yourself, but alter your portion sizes Plan to eat breakfast. You will be less likely to overeat or make poor food choices if you are not stressing your body with hunger.

Tip 4: Go for a walk with family after dinner Studies have shown that light exercise (even a short 2- 5-minute walk) can help lower blood sugar.

Tip 5: Don't drink your calories. Drink water all day. Have 4oz of your favorite drink with dinner.


Jarita Hagans, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, foodie, author and artist. She attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. for undergraduate and medical school. Afterwards, she completed a surgery internship at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Virginia. Eastern Virginia Medical School/Portsmouth Family Medicine is where she received her Family Medicine training. She had the honor of being Intern of the Year and Chief Resident while training there. Operating a clinic for a battered women’s shelter and providing medical care for a homeless shelter were two of her favorite projects.

After residency, she practiced in post hurricane “Katrina” New Orleans and developed a love for cooking, gardening and natural remedies. Since moving home to Maryland, she has worked at medical offices in Washington, D.C., as well as Baltimore and several other Maryland cities. She is the founder of Zion Family Practice, LLC offering in person and telemedicine visits in Washington, DC.

Dr. Hagans has had the pleasure of speaking about healthy eating, lifestyle changes, STD prevention and pathways to a medical career at schools, churches and community events since 2005. She has spoken at the Student National Medical Association Annual Medical Education Conference (SNMA AMEC) as well as the Graduate and Professional Schools Workshop at Morgan State University.

She is author of “MD Dreams: Practical Advice for Every Stage from Premed to Residency and Beyond”. “Women Who Lead: Extraordinary Women with Extraordinary Achievements” is a collaborative book that she co-authored along with 21 other women. Her third book, "Good Food Now: Recipes and Tips That Will Save Your Time and Sanity (Even if You Don't Have Time for That)" is available on Amazon for Kindle. Dr. Hagans is also the author of three children’s books: “Mya and the Golden Chest”, “Mason and the Magic Cape” and “Kid Astronaut: Space Dreams”.

About Zion Family Practice

Zion Family Practice is a patient-centered medical home providing family practice services with a focus on knowledge, prevention and wellness. The mission of the practice is to revolutionize the way healthcare is delivered in a community. Our vision is to be the premier healthcare hub East of the River, providing quality medical care, access to healthy food and job/volunteer opportunities for the surrounding community. It will be a model for innovative community healthcare delivery. To that end, traditional medicine will be blended with nutrition education, healthy cooking classes, exercise classes, a community garden and community health workers. For more information visit or contact the office at (443)513-2757 or

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