For people on a diet, or for anybody else just trying to eat in a healthy manner, Thanksgiving may pose the most challenging meal they face all year. But the key to surviving today’s caloric splurge is moderation and selectivity, Lisa Dick, R.D, L.D., clinical dietitian at Brownwood Regional Medical Center, said.

“For starters, turkey is a pretty lean meat,” she said. “It’s the things we do to it that cause problems. We fry it, we stuff it and we cover it with gravy.”

While the holiday’s centerpiece is traditionally the meal on the table, families who are trying to be careful about what they eat can try to focus on the time they enjoy with each other and capitalize on that fellowship, instead of making food the focus of the day.

“We know people are going to probably eat more than they usually do, but Thanksgiving can become more of a socializing event,” Dick explained. “Try to focus on family and friends instead.”

People get into problems when they think they have to try something of everything on the table.

“You really don’t have to do that,” Dick said. “You should focus on being selective. Choose the foods you know you really like, and enjoy those.”

Someone who is going to be at another person’s house for the Thanksgiving meal today can volunteer to bring a healthy dish — a salad, a vegetable or a sugar-free dessert. That will ensure that at least something on the menu will be healthy, and others around the table will probably appreciate having that option as well.

Dick, who has been at Brownwood Regional Medical Center since 1998, said patients in the hospital over Thanksgiving who are not on a restricted diet will be able to make choices for meals today, and traditional Thanksgiving fare will be among the options.

“We’ll have things like green bean casserole and pumpkin pie,” Dick said. “Most of their favorites will be available.”

For others who are facing a much greater array of options at their home or the homes of relatives, Dick said they should remember that they don’t have to load up their plates.

“There will be a lot of stuff out there because everybody will have brought something,” she said. “Enjoy it in moderation.”