This Thanksgiving: Enjoy your turkey without getting as stuffed as one

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

Love the holidays but hate how hard it is to stay healthy during them? Learn how to enjoy all of festivities without doing damage to your waistline. Let's make this your healthiest holiday yet!

Apple Pumpkin Granola Parfait

Strategy 1: Keep Moving

As the temperature declines more people end up staying inside and exercising less. It is important to keep active in order to stay healthy, though. There are plenty of ways to get into the holiday spirit and be active. You can go pumpkin picking, ice-skating, or even cut down your own tree at a Christmas tree farm. Another option - especially if you live near Washington, DC - is to go to the many museums that your area has to offer; by walking through the exhibits you are also getting in plenty of steps.

Girls ice skating
Get in the holiday spirit and be ACTIVE!

Struggling to find motivation to leave your house to go to the gym? Stay home and do a bodyweight workout. Combine sit-ups, planks, lunges, squats, and more to create your own personalized no-gym bodyweight workout. You can find several free at-home workouts here.

Strategy 2: Remember Moderation

Moderation means not eating until the point of feeling uncomfortable. An important part of moderation to remember is that no food is off limits. If you want a slice of pie- eat it, just don’t eat the whole pie.

Red wine glasses clinking.
Alcohol...may lead to poor food choices.

Alcohol tends to lower inhibitions and may lead to poor food choices such as binging on food when you are not hungry. Try to go into the meal with a plan, limit yourself to 3 drinks and stick with that. Alternate between alcohol and water, not only will you consume fewer calories, but water helps prevent hangovers.

Strategy 3: Fill Half of Your Plate with Vegetables

Wondering which vegetables to pick? Look for colors! Different colored vegetables offer different nutrients. Green vegetables like spinach, asparagus, and celery help the immune system and improve digestion. Some of the healthiest vegetables are dark leafy greens. Red vegetables like red bell peppers help keep the heart healthy and promote new cell growth. Yellow and orange vegetables like squash and carrots boost eye and joint health. White and brown vegetables like mushrooms and cauliflower improve stomach and colon health. Blue and purple vegetables like eggplant improve memory and urinary health. In contrast, starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes should be limited as they do not provide as many nutrients per calorie as non-starchy vegetables.

Consider the preparation method before filling up your plate with vegetables.

Preparation matters - the way the vegetables are prepared is something to consider when filling your plate. Typically, the healthier options will be those with the least amount of preparation. Look for raw and roasted vegetables instead of ones covered in oil, butter or cheesy sauces.

Strategy 4: Try One of These Simple Swaps

There are so many simple ways traditional holiday meals can be made healthier for you. If you usually eat dark meat switch to light. Too big of a change? Start small by doing 50% dark and 50% light. By choosing turkey carved from the breast rather than a drumstick you'll end up consuming fewer calories and fat. Pre-made items may save time, but they are packed full of preservatives to artificially extend their shelf life. The added salt used to help preserve the food may raise blood pressure levels in those prone to hypertension.

White meat sliced turkey.
Turkey carved from the breast rather than a drumstick leads to consuming fewer calories and fat.

Strategy 5: Start the Day Right with a Healthy Breakfast

Starting each day with a balanced breakfast is great for your body. Some of the benefits of eating a balanced breakfast are reducing the total amount of calories consumed over the day, jumpstarting your metabolism allowing for you to burn calories over a longer period of time, and providing the energy you need to get through your busy morning.

Below are 5 easy make-ahead breakfasts you can try on Thanksgiving morning:



This is a perfect breakfast for those concerned about their cardiovascular health. Both chia and pomegranate seeds contain nutrients that help lower one’s risk of heat disease.

TIP: You can swap maple syrup for raw honey, agave or another natural sweetener (including pomegranate powder). Preferably use white chia seeds for a brighter pink pudding color. Kiwi berries or kiwis add vitamin C and are beautiful for decoration.

Pomegranate chia seed pudding.






This is a balanced, hearty breakfast filled with protein, fiber, and a little caffeine to keep you full and get you moving.

TIP: You can swap almond butter for your favorite nut butter or even plain Greek yogurt. Preferably use black chia seeds for a richer chocolate-brown oatmeal color. Coconut shreds and whole coffee beans add crunchiness, phytonutrients and caffeine, while looking pretty as decoration.






This healthy breakfast is packed with protein to keep you full until your next meal and is excellent for those watching their fat intake.

TIP: Want to mix it up? Change the blueberries to another type of berry. You can use any type of quinoa - white, red, etc. To cut prep time, try buying precooked quinoa.






This delicious breakfast recipe is great for those looking for a filling option that provides lots of vitamin C. Dietary vitamin C is known to aid immunity, digestion, and brighten skin.

TIP: Make sure there are no white parts in your lemon zest. The yellow flesh of the rind is sweet, while the white is bitter and rather unpleasant to taste. You can swap hemp seeds for flax seed meal, pistachios, or another type of nuts.






This awesome breakfast is rich in feel-good holiday season flavors, as well as nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

TIP: The best apples for eating raw are gala, honey crisp or empire. Buy organic and wash well, so you can eat with skin, which provides extra nutrients and fiber. Raisins can be swapped for any dried fruit - try unsweetened dried currants, tart cherries or blueberries.




About the Author

Catherine Davis recently received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Delaware. She plans to continue her education by pursuing her masters in human nutrition. Catherine’s interest in nutrition includes eating disorders, community nutrition, and the role mental health plays on the diet. 

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IMPORTANT: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.