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Healthy Thanksgiving modifications without sacrificing your food

Happy Thanksgiving eve! For those of you who are traveling today, I wish you safe travels to your final destination! Since I’m sure your feeds are overloaded with some sort of Thanksgiving recipe or “healthified” recipe, I thought I’d share some healthy holiday tips to help enjoy those recipes even more. I don’t like the idea of “food rules” or anything too stringent, but these are just some helpful pointers that I gravitate towards that won’t set you up for failure. I’m linking up today for the wonderful world of WIAW

Banana chocolate chip bread with berries on white plate
Breakfast: Banana chocolate chip bread with a slab of butter and berries.  Also, an unpictured banana with this amazing Cookie Butter. 

One thing I liked while working with Nike was a wellness challenge they had to motivate employees to MAINTAIN their weight over the holidays. I especially like how they didn’t promote weight loss because: 
a) that equals not fully enjoying the holiday food
b) that would take focus and attention away from soaking up the holiday spirit with friends and family 
c) may not be attainable and could lead to decreased self esteem

I do think aiming to maintain is a great goal, but who cares if you gain a few pounds. Trying to lose weight over the holidays is way too stressful. I don’t really like the idea of telling people to “stay away from appetizers or desserts” because restriction does not make us happy, and c’mon, it’s fun to have things you don’t normally have over the holidays. So I’m all cool with doin’ yo thang. Tradition, family recipes, social gatherings, extra wine and pumpkin pie…The holidays just aren’t the time to change or overhaul your diet. But i can offer some other life tips that may help.

apple with wild friends peanut butter

  snack: apple with spoonfuls of more cookie butter.

1) Drink lots of water – When I’m tempted with sweets but I know I’ve already eaten enough to fill me up, I just drink more water. More often than not, I’m not hungry for more food, and water helps fill me up. Also, water will naturally help “detox” your body and increase the speed of things through your metabolism. One study showed an increase in metabolism by 30% when drinking 500 mL of water.

healthy modifications

2) Start and/or end your day with a walk. Even if it’s 10-15 minutes. Not only will this contribute to your exercise and activity, but it can help you relax and set your intentions for the day and what you want to accomplish. You shouldn’t be overly focused about food in the holiday season, but try to appreciate everything else around you for overall happiness. I find that walking helps me take the focus off of food and reminds me to focus on the other things that come with the holidays. Still try to incorporate your other exercise regimen/routines if you can. Things are busier during the holidays so I aim for 30-45 minutes every other day or 3-4 times a week. 

sandwich, thanksgiving modifications

 Lunch #1 post workout: on-the-go turkey, ham, cheese, guacamole on an english muffin

I was still hungry after errands so when I got home I made a small salad with chicken, butternut squash and berries, and some leftover coconut flour chocolate chip cookies and a brownie with milk for lunch #2. 

salad, thanksgiving modifications
plate of cookies and brownies

3) Don’t wait too long between meals. Eating choices and schedules often change during the holidays when you’re out of your element and may be subject to others’ schedules and/or preferences. That’s ok. Just be prepared and try to stick to smaller snacks between periods of 3-4 hours or more without meals. Ideally, try to include a fruit and/or veggie in these snacks so you are still getting those nutrients in and they will offer additional fiber to help fill you up. Also, these snacks will prevent overeating at the next meal. If I didn’t snack, I’d be hangry, mute and miserable. Just don’t talk to me. 

banana and fruits and veggies

4) Don’t stress out too much. Plain and simple. If you’re like me, you’re probably going to try a little bit of everything, and eat way more than you normally would. But then you’ll have so many yummy leftovers. Stressing out will just increase your cortisol and all these wacky hormones. Instead, Focus on the company and the experience.  Ease up on your daily diet requirements. So what if you don’t reach the coveted 5 servings of F/V every day. But maybe you’ll reach it over 2 days, or maybe even 3. That’s not going to make or break you. Just be. 

Would I have normally ordered these waffle fried “nachos?” Probably wouldn’t be the first thing on the menu I’d order… But I’m on vacation with family, enjoying the company and downtown Savannah. And they were delicious so I’m so glad we tried them! My main meal had less veggies then I would normally eat, but that’s okay, because I’ll get my veggies in tomorrow. Or the next day..

treylor park nacho fries on plate

5) Find a friend/partner/spouse/family member to hold you accountable or be your comrade. This may include motivating each other to get that walk in early in the day or after dinner/dessert to wind down. It’s so much easier to commit to goals when you have someone else doing it with you or holding you accountable. My husband and I usually go for walks after dinner around the neighborhood and on the nights we don’t do it, he asks “what about our walk?” He keeps me accountable! Check in with this person often, or even better, form an accountability group!


Rather than focusing on the food over the holidays, try to focus on the overall picture and the lifestyle changes. Those will be more maintainable in the long run anyway.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with friends and family. Enjoy every minute of it and please eat lots of yummy food!

What are you most looking forward to this Thanksgiving?

Do you have an accountability partner?

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  1. I like the idea that we should just aim to maintain our weight during the holidays- not lose it! A nice, positive outlook

  2. Great pointers!!! I’m especially digging that turkey/ham sandwich goodness you’ve got going on!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your fam!!

  3. Yes to all of this!!! Thank you for sharing all of this and reminding everyone WHAT we should be doing on Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing your WIAW eats. Love this day and seeing what everyone’s eating and sharing my own!

  4. We could be friends. I love everything you said here. With all the terrible terrible things happening right now in the world, please don’t talk about your diet at the thanksgiving dinner table.
    Also – apple pie sandwich?? Yes please! By the way I was just looking at the recipe for those cookies- how did you like them?