10 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and if you’re like me, you might be stressing about how to maintain your healthy lifestyle during a time of indulgence. Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here providing 10 tips for a healthy Thanksgiving.

Top Ten Tips for a Thriving Thanksgiving

1. Be realistic with your goals for the holiday

Are your holiday expectation realistic and achievable? Don't set yourself up for failure by setting unachievable goals - if you tell your self you can't have a single bite of your favorite food guess what is going to happen? Instead, give yourself some grace and set goals you are 80-90% sure you can meet.

Have you tried the three bite rule?

  • First bite: Taste it.
    Allow your mouth to say hello to the flavors.
  • Second bite: Enjoy it.
    Savor the flavors and give yourself permission to get pleasure from it.
  • Third bite: Say goodbye.
    Nothing tastes as good as those first few bites.

This way you can try all the indulgent treats without over-doing it.

2. Eat before you eat!

We're often tempted to skip meals before the BIG holiday meal - but this can often lead to being really hungry and then over-eating at the main event. Have a healthy breakfast in the morning – the best breakfasts have carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and fiber.

One great example is oatmeal with a nut butter and fruit. The oatmeal gives you complex carbs and fiber, the nut butter adds protein and healthy fat and the fruit adds sweetness without sugar and adds lots of vitamins and other healthy nutrients.

3. Don't sample away your appetite

Especially if you are the one doing the cooking it can be tempting to sample a bit of this and a bit of that. Of course you'll want to do a taste test, but be mindful about all that sampling it can add lots of calories to your day.

Over sampling often happens when we cook hungry - so remember that healthy breakfast. Another way to ward off hunger is to stay hydrated- fill up that water bottle and keep it with you.

4. Create or bring a lighter dish

If you're cooking, create some lighter dishes – check out this article on lightening up classic favorites.

For example, instead of heavy cream use half-and-half. You will save more than 50 percent of the calories over using heavy cream. Consider how much sugar you actually need to use – most recipes won’t suffer from a little less – or use applesauce as a replacement.

If you are a guest offer to bring a dish and switch it up – they’ll never know!

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5. Step away from the buffet

Tips for healthy Thanksgiving - family eating a stress free holiday meal together

It's easy to just graze and graze when there's a buffet - especially with appetizers. Create a plate of your favorites and step away!

Though it’s an optical illusion, the same amount of food looks larger on a small plate than it does on a large plate, so grab the smaller plate.

6. Be mindful about alcohol

Alcohol can be a double whammy: alcoholic drinks are often high in calories and can decrease your resistance to temptations. Everything in moderation. Plan ahead to avoid that 'what the hell' eating after a couple of glasses of wine. Make sure to have healthy alternatives available.

If you’re invited to a holiday meal or party where you know alcohol will be served, consider bringing your own non-alcoholic beverage. In between each glass of wine or highball, have a glass of sparkling or flat water – you’ll consume less, stay hydrated and feel better the next day!

7. Protect your mental health too – it’s ok to take short cuts!

It’s a busy time of year with lots of stress, so be mindful of your mental health too. It’s ok to take short cuts - buy that pie from the bakery, in fact have the whole thing catered if cooking is not your thing! If you love to cook - start early and enjoy the planning! Cook ahead. If you are hosting, you can ask friends and family to bring a dish to lighten your burden.

Getting outside and moving can help keep you sane, as well. Make fitness a fun family adventure. Take a walk early in the day and then again after the holiday dinner. It is a wonderful way for families to get physical activity and maybe even create a healthy Thanksgiving tradition to enjoy the holiday together.

Walking together can be family fun for a healthy Thanksgiving

8. It’s ok to say no

Don’t eat to please others. It’s okay to kindly tell a food-pushing friend or relative that you’re full. Just because Aunt Hilda made her famous pecan chess pie doesn’t mean you have to eat a slice.

9. Enjoy without guilt

Look, Thanksgiving only comes once a year. Don't let shame and guilt be your primary emotion and create additional stress. Use some of these tips to build a thriving life and enjoy your day and the great food but more mindfully!

And the most surprising tip -

Eat your favorite dish FIRST

Wait WHAT? That's right - we often save our favorite for last. You’ll hear the advice to fill up on veggies first and that is usually a pretty good rule of thumb.

But that stuffing, am I right? If it’s your favorite, you’ll probably eat it even if you are full. So go ahead and eat it first- but then listen to your hunger cues and perhaps not clean your plate.

Thanksgiving is not only about the delicious bounty of food

It’s also time to celebrate relationships with family and friends. Make the main event socializing with family and friends- spending quality time together.

Thanksgiving does not have to sabotage your wellness goals. Apply these tips and you can satisfy your desire for traditional favorites and still enjoy a guilt-free & healthy Thanksgiving feast. After all, being stuffed is a good idea only if you are a turkey!

Did you like any of these ideas? Let us know. If you want more information like this follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

Coach Karen S Holden helps busy professional women figure out how to prioritize their health while keeping all the plates spinning. She helps women take small imperfectly consistent steps that lead to big change. If your life is overloaded and overbooked, don’t despair – there is a solution.

Find other articles written by Karen on her coach profile. Her insights can help you navigate your journey to making your health as much of a priority as your career – without having to neglect either one!