Have a Balanced and Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is notorious for getting just as “stuffed” as the turkey. There’s a lot of rich once-a-year foods available and we indulge… that’s why the typical plate is 1500 calories, nearly a day’s worth for women and a half day’s worth for men! It’s almost like eating a large Big Mac, fries, soda, and an apple pie in one sitting.

It’s common for people to be concerned about Thanksgiving weight gain, but let’s be more flexible and focus on a balanced holiday. You should enjoy these seasonal foods at their finest! Studies show if we eat what we want, we will be more satisfied and in actuality, eat less.

So here’s what you can do for a healthy and balanced Thanksgiving:

  • Put color on the plate. Make sure the Thanksgiving table has two non-starchy veggies. Green beans are popular. Maybe you can also serve a nice salad or some roasted brussel sprouts Also, the cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes have good nutrition for the calories.
  • Be selective with starch. Of all the starches, the stuffing is the one that only comes around once a year. There are so many other days for you to have bread and mashed potatoes. Choose what you think you will enjoy the most and savor every bite.
  • Avoid the “food coma”. Stop eating when you feel “comfortable” full. Then go take a walk with family or spend some time outside throwing the football. You’ll feel better, you’ll digest your food better, and when you go for seconds, you’re going to feel a lot less guilty about it.
  • Don’t skip meals to ‘save your calories up’ …this will likely lead to over eating.
  • Listen to your body. When you’re satisfied, put the fork down. You can always come back to it later when you’re hungry again.
  • Drinks still have calories: wine, beer, sodas, cider still count towards the daily total. Make sure you stay hydrated with water throughout the day too!
  • Know you can say “no” to seconds: if your family likes to load up your plate, you’re allowed to politely decline.
  • Focus on family: enjoy the discussion around the table and get involved! Take bites and savor the food and the company. Remember this holiday is about the people you’re with!
  • Grab a smaller plate: we sometimes rely on visual cues to tell us when we are fully, or done eating. Use a salad plate or small dinner plate so you’re not ‘fooled’.

Above all, remember to be Thankful!

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34 thoughts on “Have a Balanced and Healthy Thanksgiving

  1. Your advice to “focus on family” is so important — I’m finding myself, with all the crazy in my own life right now, firmly focused on that alone.

    “Crazy” provides awesome blog fodder, but it also makes you take stock in what you have!

    Thanks for the tips. Happy holidays! :)

  2. Great tips! I normally don’t pay much attention when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner, but it’s always good to have a few eating tips in mind.

    • I was just on TV discussing this and I agree — enjoy the wonderful, seasonal food! I love to get extra stuffing because it is my favorite and I’m not as excited about the bread or mashed potatoes — you can have those all year long. Saves room for pumpkin pie and more of the stuff I really LOVE!

    • I think this is a good approach “eat to live” and “enjoy” but if you are really enjoying the food, you should not feel deprived if you have to stick to a rule for how much you are “allowed” on Thanksgiving. Change it to how much you need to be satisfied.

  3. Great post, but I’m resigned to just having the mental attitude of “It only happens once a year!” I go partially blind to all vegetables or salads that day, and can only see stuffing, stuffing, and more stuffing (and pumpkin pie with extra whipped cream). Come January, when all the exciting food goes into hibernation, that’s when I’ll turn back to salads again!

    Great post…congrats on FP!

    • I don’t know — can YOU? Do you feel more stuffed than the Turkey? I don’t at all want to sound like the food police. I’m all for enjoying it. I’m also for people feeling in charge of their choices and doing what THEY want not everyone else around them. You know?

  4. I have really worked hard all year to be better about portion size. So this year I know I am going for the stuffing. Mom makes an oyster stuffing that I like to eat with my cranberry sauce. It is a once-a-year treat. Maybe afterwards, I will force the kids to walk it off outside.

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  6. As my mother often says around Christmas (the big eating holiday in Sweden): It is not what one eats over Christmas—it is what one eats the rest of the year.

    Those who lead a healthy life can take the one day off to do something different (e.g. stuffing themselves). Those who do not, well, they should start to work on the 364 days that really count.

  7. I always cook a very large Thanksgiving dinner with plenty of side dishes and at least two deserts. The reason I do this is 1) I love Thanksgiving because I have such a good time with my children cooking in the kitchen and preparing the food for a couple of days before–we do a lot of laughing and talking, 2) I know we will have plenty of leftovers so no one has to feel that they have to eat it all in one sitting, 3) I don’t have to cook for several days after!

  8. If you are a meat-eater and eat turkey on Thanksgiving, better to eat organic, free-range birds. Turkeys that are sold in chain-grocery stores are factory farmed in the most crowded and bacteria-laden conditions! They are pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones which you consume also when you eat them!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Great advice. Some of the traditional diets (Okinawan, an island off of Japan, among the elderly, it’s eat only 80% feeling full. They have a record of many people living close to 100 yrs. New generation is different. :( )

    Go for a bike ride or walk afterwards. Chat up with family or friends during that time too.

  10. I grew up without turkey anyway. So this is our homemade Thanksgiving dinner in Oct. (Canadians celebrate it in that month.):

    squash-carrot soup
    roasted beets, parsnips and celery root
    gourmet sausages (bison, venison)
    heirloom tomatoes marinated in some oil, vinegar and garnished with fresh basil
    salmon fillet lightly sauteed with orange sauce and herbs
    dessert focaccia (embedded fresh cut figs, plums, grapes and blueberries. Dessert was my contribution. He added wine-flavoured whipping cream as topping.)
    red & white wine

    Think outside the box for Thanksgiving and Christmas also. Dessert focaccia has no sugar, fat nor eggs.

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  13. Thanks for the good, healthy advice… but… this is the one single day of the year that I just have a great time, eat, talk, visit, eat, and eat a little more.

    After being strict all year long I do want to be just a little bad today!

    But I do promise to get straight back to being good tomorrow :)

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