Tips for a Happy AND Healthy Thanksgiving

by Jackie on November 25, 2015

Enjoy the holiday feast without the guilt or the weight gain. Thanksgiving is only one day a year but the holiday weight gain stays with you. Year after year, most of us pack on at least a pound (or more) during the holidays and keep the extra weight permanently.


ThanksgivingThe average adult will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving. That’s more than twice the amount of calories and triple the amount of fat recommended for a day. Here are some tips to help you stay under control and avoid the holiday pounds!


Get Active

Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories before you ever indulge in your favorite foods. Try taking a walk early in the day and then again after dinner.


Eat Breakfast

While you might think it makes sense to save up calories for the big meal, eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite later in the day.

Choose Wisely

Many of the foods served are unique to the holiday. Spend your calories on those things that you may only see on Thanksgiving.


Lighten Up

Try to make your recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories. Research healthier alternatives to traditional recipes. Lighten mashed potatoes by mixing in chicken broth, mashed cauliflower and swapping butter for skim milk. Use roasted garlic and herbs to perk up the flavor. For gravy, skim the fat off the pan juices. Regularly prepared gravy can contain up to 800 calories per cup!


Control Your Portions

Don’t pile your plate, select reasonable-sized portions of foods. And resist the temptation to go back for seconds. Pile on the veggies, filling up on lower caloric foods which will allow you to feel fuller while consuming less calories.


Make Smart Choices

Some holiday foods are better choices than others. White turkey meat, plain vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, and some mashed potatoes tend to be the best bets because they are lower in fat and calories.


Foods to Avoid!


Pigs in a Blanket

At 66 calories each, these little piggies are loaded with fat and can really add up.


Chips and Dip

These really add up because before you know it, you’ve snacked away on hundreds of calories and too many grams of unhealthy hydrogenated fats.



One glass of eggnog contains as many calories as 3 glasses of wine, plus there are nearly 12 grams of fat and 22 grams of sugar.


Dark Turkey Meat

Three ounces of dark meat turkey with skin deliver nearly 200 calories. Not only is the skin a major source of fat, but dark meat in general has the highest fat content in the entire bird.



One slice of pecan pie contains a whopping 780 calories; apple pie, about 415. Pumpkin pie will set you back about 350 calories.


Healthy Holiday Choices



Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A and also provides fiber. Pumpkin seeds are high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (the good fats). Pumpkin itself is quite low in calories and is a healthy holiday food. Pumpkin pie, however, becomes a high-calorie food because it’s made with eggs, sugar, and evaporated milk and baked in a high-fat pie crust. To make a lower-fat pumpkin pie, you may consider using an egg substitute or evaporated milk in your recipe. Go for a pie crust with the lowest amount of trans fat possible. Better yet, try a home-made pie crust recipe that is not made with shortening.



Cranberries are packed with Vitamin C and also provide a fair amount of dietary fiber and antioxidants.


Sweet Potatoes

A rich source of antioxidants such as Vitamin C and beta-carotene, sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of potassium. If you eat the skin, you will also reap the health benefits of fiber, making the sweet potato a healthy holiday food. Replace your usual mashed potatoes with sweet potatoes for a richer taste!

Green Beans

These green veggies are probably one of the healthiest holiday foods out there. They are an excellent source of vitamins, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. Green bean casserole in a traditional holiday meal is rather high in calories, as it contains butter, cream of mushroom soup, and cheese. Preparing this dish with milk instead of canned soup can help you create a yummy dish without the guilt!



Health Contributor at Creative Bioscience
I'm a fitness nut. I know what you're thinking, one of these people who has never been fat a day in her life, and can eat whatever she wants. The truth is I struggled with my weight growing up and lived in a household where everything seemed to be fried. Once I got away from home I realized I had the choice to eat and exercise how I wanted. I've gained a lot of insight into working as a personal trainer, and feel I can relate to others that were in my situation. I think if I can do it then you can to, and if you want to start kicking butt then hop on board and lets get started.

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