Pass the Platter: Thanksgiving Celebration Tips for Cancer Patients and Their Families

For most of us, Thanksgiving is a time for gathering, gratitude and wonderful family traditions. But participating in those time-honored traditions can be challenging if you’re recently diagnosed or receiving cancer treatment.

We’re here to share some celebration tips to help you have a meaningful and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

Be Mindful of—and Gentle with Yourself about—any Physical Limitations.

Depending on your treatment protocols, you may feel fatigued more quickly or easily than others. You may feel guilty that everyone else is contributing to the festivities by cooking the meal or entertaining family and friends. However, ignoring your limits could have some severe repercussions.

Rather than give in and overwork yourself, focus on what you can do. Take photos, oversee the playlist or help cut ingredients.

Your taste buds and appetite may feel a little bit off. So, if you need to eat earlier than everyone else or don’t have an appetite once the banquet table is finally laid or just don’t have a taste for much, don’t worry about it. True friends and loving family will recognize that one of the things they’re most grateful for this holiday is your presence.

Promote a Healthy Thanksgiving.

There are plenty of healthier food alternatives or ways of cooking Thanksgiving dinner staples. For example, baking is always healthier than deep-frying. Rather than using a lot of salt to add flavor, season dishes with fresh herbs or dried spices.

If you’re invited to someone else’s house to celebrate, feel free to bring a healthy alternative for a traditional Thanksgiving staple.  For example, garlic mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.

Don’t Give in to Temptation.

It’s easy to treat Thanksgiving as a single day of indulgence and think that ignoring your dietary restrictions for one day couldn’t hurt. But it’s important not to deviate from your doctor’s advice for various reasons.

One reason you should avoid overindulgence on Thanksgiving is that your digestive system may be shocked. If you’ve been enjoying a healthy, well-balanced diet up until this point, indulging in highly salty, fatty, or sugary food will likely overwhelm your gut and lead to severe discomfort.

For another, processed and high-sodium food, bad fats, sugar and alcohol should be limited or eliminated from the diets of even the healthiest people. It’s even more critical to remove these foods from your diet while in treatment because they may not support your recovery.

Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday for its focus on gratitude, which can include being thankful for the chance to eat in a way that supports living your best life today, tomorrow and beyond. 

More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion so you, too, can experience the difference.