Easy Ways to Make Thanksgiving a Healthy Indulgence

I’ve received several emails asking me for tips on healthy eating/lifestyle, and I’m happy to oblige! I figured I’d start with the next big event – Thanksgiving!


Do you wonder how to eat healthy at Thanksgiving? Do you find yourself using the holiday as an excuse to eat poorly or overeat? Read on for some tips to make Thanksgiving a healthy indulgence.

NOTE: Please consult your physician for professional advice. The following are just my personal tips and opinions.


Problem: Sometimes your eyes are bigger than your stomach. This is what my dad calls having “big eyes.” I’ve been guilty of having big eyes many times before. I’ve filled my plate full of yummy food only to get halfway through and realize that I’m absolutely stuffed! If you’re like me, you don’t like to waste food, so you feel obligated to eat everything on your plate, even when you know you’re full.

Solution: Try to make your plate more of a sampling. Take less food than you think you can eat. You can always go back for more, but it’s hard (if not impossible) to put food back from your plate to a serving dish. After finishing your first round of eats, you may be surprised at how full you feel. I like keeping each round small so I can go back for seconds…or even thirds! Getting another round of food can be fun and your family may be honored that you liked their food so much you went back for more.

Problem: There are too many sweets around. I want to eat ALL of them!

Solution: You have to be picky. When provided a veritable smorgashborg of delicious dessert options, if you’re like me (and you guys know I have a HUGE sweet tooth), you’ll want to try one of everything. Sometimes, this is just impossible. If there are 10 desserts, try a couple of them, but don’t shoot for all. Pick your favorites and try a couple Day 1 and see if you can take some home for the next day or couple days. Try to make the serving sizes of each tasting small so you can enjoy each one without overdoing it. You don’t need a huge slice of pumpkin pie to enjoy the flavor.

Problem: Your family/friends/co-workers keep encouraging you to try their famous homemade <insert famous food item here>. You want to make all your family members (or friends/co-workers) happy, but you don’t want to overeat.

Solution: Especially if you’re at a large family gathering, I doubt your family member will sit there and make sure they see you put their food on your plate. But, If they are or if they’re insisting on serving you (and you think you have enough food on your plate for Round 1), tell them you’ll be sure to get some on Round 2. You may never make it to Round 2, but you’ll have at least distracted them and made them feel like you wanted to try it. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, no? If you have someone in particular whom you think will be upset if you don’t eat their food, try to make sure it makes it to your (reasonably-portioned) Round 1 plate.


Problem: You find yourself uncomfortably full after holiday meals

Solution: After Round 1 of the Portion suggestion above, try to really listen to your body. If you feel full, don’t go for Round 2 (seconds). There will typically be plenty of leftovers the next day anyways. If you’re saving room for dessert, remember to do just that. Save room. You don’t want to be full when dessert is being served and you definitely don’t want dessert to put you over the top to an uncomfortable level of fullness.

Problem: You’re actually dehydrated.

Solution: With all the holiday madness in full effect, you may not be taking as much care of yourself as normal, like making sure you’re getting as much water as you typically need. Sometimes when you feel hungry, you’re actually dehydrated. Make sure you’re well-hydrated the day before and day of your big holiday feast to help prevent overeating and allow your body to know when it’s truly full.


Problem: You find it hard to eat healthy when all the appetizer, dinner, and dessert options are so not-healthy.

Solution: You can’t make a healthy meal out of french fries and milk shakes. Ok, so those probably won’t be at your Thanksgiving meal, but you get the point. Luckily for you, it is quite normal (in most situations) to bring food (apps, sides, dessert, etc) to Thanksgiving. Take this opportunity to bring something healthy (or a couple healthy options) so if there are no healthy options, you can fall back on the food item you brought for support. Bonus – Bringing healthy food to the meal will encourage your family members (friends/co-workers) to eat healthy food, too.

Problem: You use the holidays as an excuse to eat unhealthy food.

Solution: In general, I don’t think any foods are 100% off limits. In fact, for me, when I tell myself I can’t have something, I only want it more. Unless you have a medical reason to avoid something, allow yourself to eat what you want. Buuuuut, to maintain your healthy lifestyle, try to eat more of the healthy items and less of the unhealthy ones. Fill your plate with salad and lean turkey but go light on the gravy, etc.

Thanksgiving Food Challenge

If you need some more encouragement to eat healthy this Thanksgiving, why not give a dish a healthy makeover (even if you only sub out 1 ingredient) by playing my Thanksgiving Food Challenge?

Any Questions

If you have any questions you’d like to get answered or answers you’d like to offer, please leave a comment. I’m sure others will find your feedback helpful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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