5 Simple Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

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If you’ve decided to make your health and wellness a priority, no matter what anyone tells you, you can be consistent and still have a healthy Thanksgiving once you choose too. So here are five tips for healthy Thanksgiving to get you through.

picture of healthy thanksgiving turkey on wooden table set for thanksgiving

Don’t let friends and family guilt you into breaking up with your health and wellness priorities. As a matter of fact, you can still enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration and even have a piece of sweet potato pie.

Skipping a few items on the buffet line doesn’t mean that you love anyone any less.

It doesn’t mean that you feel like you’re better than anyone. It just means that you’re making your health and wellness a priority. The people who love you SHOULD understand the shift, but don’t be surprised if they don’t.

Don’t be surprised if your very presence and ability to exercise freedom of food choice, causes people to squirm in their chair and start giving unsolicited explanations of what is on their plate.

By the way, I believe in dietary freedom. The same way someone can choose to indulge in two plates of carb loaded fancies, is the same way another person should be able to skip dessert without explanation.

The fact is, no one is perfect. But true health and wellness is exercised 365 days a year. It may look a little different on Thanksgiving You’re trying. You’re trying hard. And even if you no one else will cheer you on, I will.

This post is for you. Because at the end of the day, it’s your health. If things start breaking down and you get a life threatening illness, no amount of “I’ll run this 5K for you”, will change your specific circumstances.

And after you’re gone too soon, it won’t bring you back.

So are you ready to make your health and wellness a priority, even on a holiday like Thanksgiving?

Let’s go!

picture of healthy thanksgiving turkey on wooden table set for thanksgiving
Photo by Gabriel Garcia Marengo on Unsplash

Eat slowly

I know. You’ve been waiting for Thanksgiving all year and the first tip is to eat slowly. The truth is it takes twenty minutes for your brain and stomach to realize that you’re full.

Did you get that? Twenty minutes.

Eating slowly while savoring and enjoying the food is an easy way to minimize extra calories.

If it takes less than twenty minutes for you to eat, you can try adding a 10-15 minute break after you finish and make an honest evaluation before you decide if another plate of food is even necessary.

Start with Greens

Even before the first piece of turkey has hit your plate, get a dinner sized plate and fill it with a green salad. Not shrimp salad, macaroni salad or potato salad.

I mean green salad. Fresh salad greens like kale and romaine will do. Raw salad. Bountiful salad. Skip the bottled dressing and top your salad with olive oil and plain balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice with fresh herbs.

The acidity of the lemon, pair with the greens nicely to help satiate the appetite.

If you have a garden, just pick your salad greens from there. The fresher, the better! If you want to get even fancier, try this kale, apple and cranberry salad with maple pecans. It’s so delicious and has a festive twist.

Swap it Out

Leave the dinner plate for your salad greens ( see above) and swap the salad plate for the main course. It doesn’t matter whether you’re vegetarian or a flexitarian or omnivore eating lots of fruits and vegetables is a good idea. So make the simple swap to enjoy a more healthy Thanksgiving.

Cut the Fluff

I’m not suggesting you cut it all out. But I am saying that you should skip or limit the simple carbs, simple sugars and cream based sauces, soups and desserts, IF you’re committed to having a healthier Thanksgiving.

Before you freak out, there are healthier meal swaps that you can make. Simple carbohydrate holiday favorites like stuffing and pie can be upgraded to stuffed veggie squash , stuffed baked apples and crustless mini pumpkin pies respectfully.

For example, these crustless mini pumpkin pies are full of both flavor and fiber but with less calories, refined sugars, are dairy free, packed with filling fiber and contain anti-inflammatory spices that keep you healthy.

Besides, you won’t miss the “fluff” when you’re filling up on healthy thanksgiving recipes like orange cranberry sauce, orange rosemary sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, sweet potato stuffing with raisins and spicy butternut squash soup anyway.

If you’re skipping dairy but craving ice cream, there’s something for you too! Gone are the days when the only dairy alternatives tastes like vanilla flavored chalk.

Brands like Halo Top, Ben & Jerry’s and SO Delicious make every thing from coconut milk based to almond milk non dairy alternatives which makes going dairy free easy, tasty and fun!

With delicious recipes like these, you’re not missing out on a thing.

Keep It Going

After the Thanksgiving meal, no matter what decisions you’ve made about what you ate and how much you ate, it’s important to keep the healthy momentum going.

If the weather is nice enough, throw on a jacket and go for a family walk. There are no rules that say you can’t go for a walk on Thanksgiving. In fact, I highly recommend it.

Going for a walk is a great way to connect with your loved ones, away from electronic devices and connect with nature.

Taking a walk after meals help with gut motility and aids in facilitating digestion. Let’s put it this way, it will keep the food “moving” along. Undigested food left sitting in the stomach and colon, is a perfect foundation for digestive issues later.

In addition, unwanted calories will have less a chance of turning into unwanted weight gain since you’ll be addressing it at it’s source.

Are you ready to have a healthy Thanksgiving? Remember you don’t have dietary restrictions. You have dietary preferences whether self imposed or physician prescribed.

The mere term “restrictions” does not impart feelings of positivity, or conjure feelings of empowerment or longevity.

The truth is, you prefer to eat foods that will build you up not tear you down.

You prefer to avoid foods that will turn into idiopathic diseases and conditions of “unknown origin”.

You prefer to eat to flourish versus demolish the body that God-given body you have.

You don’t have “dietary restrictions”…

You have dietary freedom!

The freedom to choose and ultimately decide to not dig your grave with your fork even if it is Thanksgiving.

It’s your call.

Original: November 24, 2019 Updated: October 26, 2020, November, 22, 2023

Simple Healthy Thanksgiving Dishes

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Paleo Cranberry Sauce with Orange

Orange Rosemary Sweet Potatoes

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