7 Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving

Keep these tips in mind to have a happy and healthy holiday.


By Richard Jimenez


It’s that time of the year again. One of America’s favorite holidays is here and we all feel a little guilty at the end of the day after satisfying our gastronomic pleasures. On Thanksgiving, the American Council on Exercise estimates that the average person has a 3,000 calorie meal with a large portion coming from eating 229 grams of fat, 150 grams over the recommended daily fat intake. Moreover, since we tend to snack throughout the day to save space for the meal of the year, we will end up eating roughly 4,500 calories by the end of the day. In waistline terms, this is equivalent to over a pound in weight gain. To avoid losing the progress that you’ve worked hard all year to get, here are some tips to make this day a bit healthier:

1. Eat Breakfast

Even though you may think that you can spare more room to eat later in the day by skipping out on breakfast, research shows just the opposite. By skipping out on breakfast, you are more likely to binge throughout the day and crave more sugary and less healthy foods. Instead, start off your day with a nutrient-rich meal that contains high levels of protein and complex carbohydrates, such as eggs and whole-grain toast, that take a longer time to digest.

2. Bring your own dish

If you and your family members are contributing different dishes to the table, offer to bring healthier alternatives such as baked sweet potatoes instead of using candied yams. Your initiative might just influence others to reinvent their classic dishes in creative and healthy ways.

3. Get variety

With all of the delicious, fatty options on the table, it’s hard not to focus on the mashed potatoes with gravy and stuffing. But to get a healthier meal, make sure to get a variety of foods on your plate including salads and vegetables. Pace yourself and try a bit of everything before returning back to your favorite dish.

4. Choose healthier alternatives

Often times, thanksgiving dinner can add extra calories from sweets or butter. Search for alternatives to some ingredients that still provide fun tasting meals such as herbs instead of butter. If you’re looking for a healthy turkey recipe, you can find one here.

5. Stay active

While waiting for the food to finish cooking or after Thanksgiving dinner, invite the family and kids to go outdoors to get involved in a game to burn off a few calories. Games such as tag or volleyball or even going on a stroll around the neighborhood is a good start to working off the meal.

6. Keep your goals in mind

Make sure to keep your fitness and health goals in mind throughout the day. A good tip recommended by psychologists is to think about your goals any time you encounter a short term temptation. By doing so, whenever you open the fridge and see cake, your goals can automatically come to mind and help you resist binging.

7. Have fun!

Most importantly, make sure to have fun! It’s not many days of the year that you get to bring the family together so make sure you get to enjoy it. Even if you break your goals or binge, its only one day of the year. It’s not one day that will make a difference but the other 364 that will matter in terms of your overall health. If you ate more than what you had planned, make a plan with a family member or friend to visit the gym more often for the next week or go on a walk a little longer than usual.

Richard was raised in California and is currently studying Psychology and Biology at UC Berkeley. He likes to play soccer and go to the gym. He hopes to be a sports medicine surgeon one day.

Main Photo Credit: mythja/; Second Photo Credit: JaySi/; Third Photo Credit: Brent Hofacker/