Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!  It only comes once a year, so why not enjoy your traditional holiday favorites.  Splurging on Thanksgiving Day will not sabotage your healthy efforts, but turning it into an entire season of bad eating habits will. Here are a few tips to help you stay in a healthy mindset…so that you don’t feel as stuffed as that turkey you just ate! 

1. Get Active.  Get in a good morning workout to have some more room in the calorie “bank” for your favorite foods.  Stay active all week to burn off those extra calories.   

2. Eat Breakfast.  While you might think it makes sense to save up all of your calories for the day, eating a sensible breakfast will help control your hunger so you don’t eat everything in sight before the turkey even comes out.  Start your day with a small but satisfying breakfast – your best option is something high in protein and fiber which will provide the best appetite control until the big feast. 

Example: a serving of oatmeal for breakfast can have less than 200 calories and will keep you full for hours… but show up hungry and attack the spinach artichoke dip?  Depending on how much you eat, this could set you back anywhere from 500- 1000 calories!  (Yes…a bowl of traditional spinach artichoke dip has about 1,600 calories, 100 grams of fat!)  

3. Watch your portions, but make it worth it!   My motto is don't waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long.  Try and fill your plate with smaller portions of those delectable dishes that you only see once a year.  When you have something tasty and desirable, you will feel more satisfied. 

4. Lighten Up.  Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, try one recipe with less fat, sugar, and calories.  You don’t even have to tell anyone!  Most people won’t even notice that you used healthy ingredients if you find the right substitution.   

Some examples are:  fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey or make gravy;  sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods; plain or Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles. 

5. Choose the Best Bets on the Buffet. With so many options to choose from, it’s nice to balance your plate with a few lighter dishes alongside the ones higher in fat and calories.  It can’t hurt to know which foods are the “healthier” choices.  

Your best bests are (lower in fat and calories): Shrimp for an appetizer, white turkey meat, vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.   

6. Savor your food. Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate full of food.  

7. Focus on Family and Friends.  Thanksgiving isn’t JUST about the food and drink!  Celebrate this time with family and friends.

8. Skip the Seconds.  Try to resist the temptation to go back for extra helpings.  Leftovers are much better the next day when you aren’t as full, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you have more room for a delectable dessert!   GOBBLE-GOBBLE!  

Janaelle Humberd, Registered Dietitian, LDN  
Certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant / Health Coach