Thanksgiving Survival

I love Thanksgiving.  When I was a kid I hated it.  I thought turkey was gross and I just wasn’t into all of the food.  Nowadays my runger has made me a big lover of this holiday.  I recently read that Thanksgiving has turned into one of the healthiest holidays around.  Hard to believe I know.  But many people participate in pre-Thanksgiving runs or races and there is a way to make Thanksgiving work without killing your waist line.


First: Find a Thanksgiving morning Turkey trot.  This year my husband and I are joining my sister-in-law and her husband for a local 10K.  This is the perfect way to get a fun calorie burn in first thing in the morning.  Joining hundreds of other runners for some preholiday festivities is a great way to start the day.  Plus there are so many races that support wonderful causes.  Not only do we leave our race with a medal but rumor has it that every participant receives a pie too!

Be smart from the start.  Knowing that you are going to have a nice big and tasty dinner should be incentive to be smart and eat light earlier in the day.  Choose a light breakfast.  Grab a salad for lunch or have some fruit.  Consider it a calorie stockpile if you will.  Hold out for the good stuff.

Be selfish.  Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or going somewhere make a dish that you know will be healthy and filling.  My sister-in-law makes a delicious mixed green salad.  She simply slices some apples and throws in some goat cheese with a nice vinaigrette.  It is the perfect thing to pile on your plate before you do too much damage.  Make a healthy appetizer or a veggie platter or bring a nice big salad to fill up on at the start of dinner.

My friend Shandy makes this veggie turkey.  I just love it!

My friend Shandy makes this veggie turkey. I just love it!

Don’t ruin it before the fun gets started.  Years ago I read an article about Thanksgiving preparations and calorie consumption.  If you snack while you make the dinner you can easily consume up to 1500 calories before you even get going.  Talk about a diet killer!

When the appetizers get laid out before dinner, take it easy.  Grab a small plate and take a few things and then walk away.  Don’t go back for seconds and remember that you have a huge dinner awaiting you.

Enjoy a little bit of everything but not a lot of everything.  When it comes to dinner don’t deprive yourself but don’t go crazy.  Know ahead of time what you are most looking forward to.  Remember that white meat turkey is very light and great for you.  Go ahead and load up, but don’t drown it with gravy.  If there is real cranberry sauce (not in the can) go ahead and have some and enjoy it with your turkey.  Although there is sugar, cranberries are great for you and much lighter than gravy.

Remember that Thanksgiving is all about the veggies.  Many tables will be full of delicious roasted vegetables.  Go for it when it comes to veggies, but steer clear of things like green bean casserole which is veggies disguised in fat and calories.  Enjoy your mashed potatoes but don’t go crazy and err on the lighter side with the gravy.  Again, if you want it have a little and then walk away.

If it looks delicious but doesn’t taste as great as you expected, push it to the side. This happens to me a lot.  Often times I grab something that looks really great but once I taste it I am disappointed.  I have this happen a lot with French fries.  They are one of my favorite splurges.  But usually they don’t come out as great as I like them.  Instead of eating them for the sake of eating them, I have learned to stop.  Leave them alone.  If it isn’t worth it, don’t eat it.

Let yourself have dessert.  This is a great time to enjoy dessert.  Depriving yourself can often backfire.  Peruse the dessert table and make a plan.  Go ahead and grab a few small slivers of  dessert.  Don’t make a scene with it but just take a small sliver.  Most people will probably think you are a genius.  If you are with family or friends and you see a cookie you like simply say, “I’m going to cut this in half in case anyone else would like the other half.”  It isn’t rude in my book and people will probably follow suit.

But remember the same rule about stopping if it isn’t up to your standards.  If after a bite or two the dessert doesn’t taste as awesome as it looked, push it to the side.  It is a waste to your waist to eat it just to eat the darn thing.

I am in love with this centerpiece!

I am in love with this centerpiece!

Go ahead and have a drink.  It’s okay to have a drink or two.  Either go for a white or red wine or a cocktail like a vodka tonic.  Skip juices and when it comes to white wines look for ones with less yellow in them.  That yellow is usually sugars.  Go for a clear looking Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc.  Or try a Vinho Verde, an effervescent Portuguese white.  Vinho Verdes are usually very inexpensive and can be found for under $10.  For more bang for your caloric and alcohol buck, grab a prosecco which tends to have a lower calorie content but a decent alcohol count.  Or make your drinks last longer and add some sparkling water to make a spritzer.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

11 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Survival

  1. These are some great tips! I am planning to do my long run for the week thanksgiving morning.. that way I have plenty of room for some turkey.. I am guilty of grabbing something and even though it’s not as good as I thought just gobbling (<—see what I did there) down the whole thing anyways. I need to keep in mind that I have tons of options lol!!!

  2. Absolutely agree and love it – we have a huge turkey and bacon and sausage (and wine) in our fridge … and LOADS of veggies! I love always having fruit and veggies out when there are also cheese and crackers, because I will always head to the veggies and grapes 🙂

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