Surviving Thanksgiving: Helpful tips for keeping your diet intact during the holiday season



If there is one universal holiday, at least here in the US, where eating until you’re out of breath is commonplace, it’s Thanksgiving. For a number of reasons, Thanksgiving is the holiday of gluttony, but it doesn’t have to be. This post is all about navigating the holiday so that you get the full experience, without any of the guilt.

For starters, Thanksgiving is the time where you are literally surrounded with calorie-laden goodies, many of which you will only get to taste once or twice a year. While the urge to binge to get it all in will be great, the key here is in moderation. For starters, ditch those foods you can have year-round, like sweet potatoes, bread, etc. Grab just a taste of those must-have foods first, and if you are still hungry afterwards, you can always grab more. Embrace the concept of leftovers, and you won’t feel as desperate to “try it all while you can”. By having a taste of everything that you love and crave, you won’t leave feeling like you either missed out, either.

The next hurdle in the quest for a guilt-free Thanksgiving is peer pressure. More specifically, pressure from your family to “cheat on your diet” because “that one slice of pie won’t kill you”. Or being guilted into eating something that you really don’t want. For those of you who happen to have unsupportive or non-understanding family members, the pressure to “act normal” can be especially strong. While there is no avoiding said peer pressure, there is a diplomatic way to respond to it. For starters, craft your responses ahead of time, so you’re not flailing or trying to come up with excuses. When your mom tells you that you can stand to gain a couple of pounds, calmly explain to her that you like the weight you’re at. Do not get angry, and be patient in explaining to others that you have goals, and don’t wish to be derailed. When Grandma gives you the guilt trip over not trying her pie, tell her you will take a slice to go, for later. Have a ready reaction for each action, and you’ll come out on top.

For some, Thanksgiving can be a stressful time, between traveling and potentially seeing those family members we generally wish to avoid. As with many stressful situations, the temptation to “eat your feelings” may arise. The trick to combating that is to release your stress, whether it be via exercise, painting, hanging out with a friend, etc. If you aren’t stressed, then you won’t stress eat.

For many, that weekend/holiday free-for-all mentality takes over, setting the foundation for some serious caloric damage. Here, once again, altering your mindset can prevent total devastation. While the holiday is definitely a time to relax and enjoy, shift your focus from eating to spending time with your family and loved ones. Employ moderation in enjoying treats you normally wouldn’t have, but stop when you’re satisfied, and not sick.  

Last but not least, eat this, and not that. There is no reason why you can’t contribute your own, healthy dishes or recipes to the Turkey Day feast, so that you can truly enjoy without guilt. Load up on the white meat, fresh veggies, and perhaps a contribution or two of your own, save up your macros for the big feast, and enjoy.

No matter how you look at it, planning for a successful holiday means you won’t leave the dinner table as stuffed as your turkey. No matter the roadblock, you can navigate Thanksgiving without derailing your healthy lifestyle.