From turkey—or tofurkey—to Thanksgiving side dishes like mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce, bread, drinks, and a bakery-worthy array of pies, the Thanksgiving meal is one marked by rich food and more frequently than not, overindulgence.
While it’s important to enjoy the holiday and the time and special meal with your loved ones if you’re on a diet or working hard on specific weight and health goals, navigating Thanksgiving without completely sabotaging your progress can feel impossible. However, with a little careful planning and mindful decisions about what you’re going to eat—and skip—it is completely possible to enjoy Thanksgiving without derailing your diet and weight loss goals. Keep reading for our top tips for having a happy and healthy Thanksgiving this year.
Don’t Skip Meals
One common fallacy whenever it comes to dieting is trying to bank calories for later by skipping meals. However, this usually ends up backfiring because it can lead to overeating. By skipping breakfast on Thanksgiving, your blood sugar levels will drop, which can cause an urge to binge or overeat once you finally allow yourself to dig in. Eat a healthy, protein-rich breakfast like Greek yogurt with nuts and fruit or a protein shake, and a light lunch with plenty of fiber and fresh vegetables. Be sure to have filling, nutritious snacks on hand like hummus and fresh vegetables or cottage cheese.
Make Time to Exercise
Start your Thanksgiving off right with some exercise. Consider walking or running in a Turkey Trot or getting in a workout before you host or hit the road to head to Thanksgiving dinner. If your gym is closed for Thanksgiving, try an at-home workout instead.
Plan Your “Spending”
Imagine your Thanksgiving meal like visiting the candy store as a kid. You have a certain amount of “money” (calories) to spend on Thanksgiving. Before sitting down at the table, look around at all the various dishes available and consider how you want to budget your calories and partition them accordingly. Choose the foods you really want, avoid the ones you can do without, and plan one or two special “indulgences” like your favorite slice of pie or sweet potato casserole.