Tips for a Healthier (But Still Enjoyable) Thanksgiving

A certified health coach and nutritionist shares her top tips for a healthy and enjoyable Thanksgiving

As a day that revolves mostly around food (and that falls in the center of a food-filled holiday season), it’s only natural that you might feel stressed about overeating or gaining weight on Thanksgiving.

Especially if you have weight loss goals or are simply working towards establishing healthier eating habits, instead of an enjoyable day spending time with friends and family, Thanksgiving might feel like more of a battle than anything else.

It doesn’t have to feel that way, though. First of all, even if you do end up eating a little bit too much (we’ve all been there before), it’s highly unlikely that one day of overeating can lead to weight gain.

As New York Times Well Blog author Tara Parker-Pope explained in an investigation two years ago, you’d have to eat an almost impossible amount of food to consume more than 4,500 calories, which according to the Calorie Control Council is the (likely overestimated) average amount of calories an American eats on Thanksgiving.

Plus, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that, on average, most people only gain about one pound over the entire course of the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day).

So contrary to what the diet industry might have you believe, there’s no reason to go bonkers stressing over weight gain during the holidays, and especially not over what you eat on one single day.

Of course, no matter how many pieces of grandma’s epic apple pie you really want to eat, your health is still important to you and just like everyone else, you definitely don’t enjoy feeling bloated and stuffed to the brim.

Fortunately, it’s possible to avoid all of that and have a healthy Thanksgiving without feeling deprived; it’s a matter of enjoying yourself without overdoing it.

I know what you’re thinking, “That’s so much easier said than done.” Right?

True. But with the help of certified health coach, nutritionist and personal trainer Justine San Filippo, we've rounded up some simple tips that you can use to make sure you'll enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving foods without going overboard.

Continue reading to find out her expert tips.

Keep up with your exercise routine.

Maybe this seems like an obvious piece of advice, but the holidays tend to be a busy time of year, meaning it’s easy to fall off the exercise wagon as your social schedule becomes more and more booked. “Just because it is a holiday doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to stop exercising,” says San Filippo. “Staying consistent is key. Do your usual workout so when you are watching football and nibbling on snacks, you’ll feel good knowing you already burned extra calories for the day.” She recommends going for a long morning walk to start the day.

Serve healthy snacks while watching football.

“Instead of heating up processed, frozen snacks which are high in sodium, provide no nutritional value and are loaded with unhealthy fats, serve a raw vegetable platter with healthy dips or hummus as a healthier alternative,” says SanFilippo.

Click here to see more tips for a healthier Thanksgiving.