6 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Wellbeing Tips
November 16, 2018

You know, there’s nothing in the Great Big Book of Thanksgiving that says it needs to be an unhealthy affair. Read on for our best nutritional holiday tips.

Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate togetherness and harmony, so it’s always a little bit off-putting when you sit down to enjoy a delicious holiday meal with your friends and family and need to stress about what’s on your plate. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are six top tips for how to eat healthier on Thanksgiving.

1. Don’t forget to eat in the a.m.

Saving your Thanksgiving appetite for the big meal isn’t the best idea. Why? Well, you’ll probably end up binging on all the starchy goodies that make up the average Thanksgiving meal, and that means you’ll take on more calories than you would otherwise.
The solution? Make sure that you start your Thanksgiving off with a big, beautiful breakfast that’s jam-packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats. In desperate need of inspiration? Take a look at some of these healthy Thanksgiving recipes for breakfast from Well+Good. From apple-cinnamon oatmeal to pumpkin/peanut butter energy balls (yum!), they’ve got you covered for those morning Thanksgiving munchies.

2. Kick off with a veg-centric soup

Thanksgiving dinner isn’t always the healthiest, and we’re not saying it has to be, but there are plenty of ways that you can avoid sliding into a food coma by around 6 p.m. Starting Thanksgiving dinner with a soup can be a fantastic way to cut down calories. Studies have shown that when you eat a low-calorie soup before a meal, your total calorie intake may be reduced by as much as 20%. Just make sure that your soup is full of fall flavor. From roasted parsnip and vanilla to acorn squash, there’s a massive range of Thanksgiving soups that you can add to your dinner plans.

3. Indulge in guilt-free turkey…

Turkey is a lean bird with plenty of health benefits, but because of its association with the double-portion bonanza of Thanksgiving, many people are left wondering whether it’s a particularly unhealthy type of meat. Well, rest assured—turkey isn’t the star turn in Thanksgiving dinner for nothing. It’s low calorie and low carb, with a three-ounce serving containing just 87 calories and 3.6 grams of carbohydrates.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can completely forget about portion control, but it does give you license to enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving dinner without feeling like you’re going kamikaze on your diet! For a little bit of foodie inspo, check out some of these awesome healthy Thanksgiving recipes for some creative turkey dishes.

4. Or give faux turkey a try!

Of course, many people don’t eat meat, and want to let feathered friends alone on T-day. So why not give faux turkey a try? As you can probably guess, it’s a veggie turkey replacement that’s made from tofu and wheat protein. Although Tofurky is the best-known turkey substitute, there are plenty of other brands to try, so it’s easy to find one that suits the whole table’s eating restrictions. For more advice about surviving Thanksgiving dinner as a vegan, check out our Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes, Tips & Survival Tricks.

5. Orange seasonal vegetables are your friends

Sweet potato hash browns with rosemary: no marshmallows necessary
Sweet potato hash browns with rosemary: no marshmallows necessary

When you think Thanksgiving vegetables, think orange. Sweet potatoes contain ridiculous amounts of vitamin A, as well as vitamin C, potassium, and iron—and they can be a healthy, delicious option for your Thanksgiving table, as long as you skip the marshmallows.
Another great option? Pumpkin. We know, pumpkin spice lattes are all the rage this time of year, but we’re talking the actual vegetable. If you’ve had it with pumpkin pie, we have some other delicious options—how about pumpkin and spinach salad or pumpkin rice pudding? Bonus: Pumpkin is heart-healthy and a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.

6. Work in a couple of workouts

Finding time for a couple of nifty workouts during the Thanksgiving period is a great way of ensuring that seasonal indulgences don’t make their mark on your waistline. Shape.com has a great selection of post-Thanksgiving exercises to try, so for anyone who’s overdone it on the pumpkin pie, it might be worth getting your butt down the gym before you have to go back to work! And keep a lookout for a turkey trot, or a race that takes place on Thanksgiving day or thereabouts—like this one in Hoboken, NJ.

That horrible feeling of Thanksgiving guilt doesn’t have to be a part of your holiday season. For a healthy Thanksgiving, feel free to indulge a little bit, but try to exercise (no pun intended) a little bit of moderation!