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Navigating Thanksgiving When You Have #Goals

The holidays are coming! They're on their way. Pumpkin pie, stuffing and turkey galore--make sure to leave some room for more!

So, you have some nutritional goals that you're working towards. Everyone does (or should!). No matter what that goal is, the beginning of the full holiday season can be a difficult task but it doesn't have to be! Did you know that the average American consumes around 3,000 calories in the one Thanksgiving meal? That's not the whole day--just the meal!

The Morning Of:

Eat Breakfast:

If you eat your dinner later in the day (think after 1:00 PM), it's a good idea to eat breakfast. Many people fast through Thanksgiving morning in order to "save room and calories" for later in the day. If this is something you enjoy or practice everyday (through intermittent fasting or otherwise), then there is no harm in skipping breakfast. However, the goal in eating breakfast is that you aren't overly hungry when it's time to start eating and start your day as a "normal one."

Try to stick to something that you'd normally eat such as eggs, a smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal and try to avoid things that are over indulgent or contain empty carbohydrate calories like french toast, pancakes or bagels. It's important to get some protein in this meal to keep you full and satisfied throughout the morning.

Drink Water:

Chug the water the morning of Thanksgiving. Aim to get all of your suggested 8 glasses n before you get to the meal. The reason for this is two fold; First, in a large holiday meal, there is often more salt and carbohydrates than we are used to eating. Water will help to debloat you a bit from both of these things. Second, water can help keep you full ultimately helping you eat a little less.

Get Some Exercise In:

Whether you join into a turkey trot or workout at the gym/home, try and get some movement in Thanksgiving morning. Again, there are several reasons why this is helpful. First, exercise will burn some calories, get you pumped up and also deplete your glycogen (energy stores) so that they will need to be replenished.

Before the Main Meal:

Watch the Appetizers:

Just because something is available, doesn't mean you have to eat it. (cue the face below).

Have a taste or two if you really feel really hungry, like you really have to have something or it's a special food you only get on a holiday. If it's something you have literally every day (or could have every day: think regular sliced cheese, cashews, pretzels), try to make a skip. Appetizers are easy to fill up on and aren't necessarily an important part of the meal.


Continue to hydrate with tons of water throughout the day. As mentioned before, it will help to keep you full and also help to debloat you.

During the Meal:

Taste everything you want:

A lot of the fun of Thanksgiving comes from having foods you only eat a few times a year (hello stuffing and green bean casserole!). While you might actually really like these foods, a lot of the enjoyment is just the nostalgia of it. Feel free to have a little taste of everything that you want, but avoid eating extremely large servings of it. Have a few bites of each to start. If you decide you really want more, choose one item to have some more of.

Eat Protein:

The turkey is generally the main focus so be sure to grab some of that. Turkey will give you a large protein boost and help to keep the plate balanced. White meat will give you less fat while dark meat will have a bit more.

Don't Drown Everything in Gravy:

Gravy is pure fat. While it tastes absolutely delicious, try to use judgement when pouring it on top of everything. You really just need a taste to feel satisfied and reducing the amount you use will save you a ton of calories.

Veggies. Veggies. Veggies:

Whether it's salad or roasted/steamed/whatever vegetables, try to load up on some of these fiber and vitamin filled powerhouses. Just like the protein, fiber will help keep you full and is important for good digestion.

You're not a turkey. Don't stuff yourself:

Stop eating when you're comfortable but not overly full. Think about a scale of 1-10 and stop before you get to a 7 or 8 on that scale (1 being starving and 10 being that you need to unbutton your pants and lie down).


Pick one to two small things:

If pumpkin pie is your jam but so are your Aunt Mary's cookies, have a tiny bit of both but not 2 full servings. Luckily, pie can be sliced in any size which makes it easy to choose your portion. Split a cookie with your sibling or someone else at the table so you don't feel obligated to eat the whole thing.

Sip on coffee, tea or water:

Sip on liquids instead of staring at the desserts. They'll trick your mind that it's busy.

After the Meal:

Get Some Movement In:

You might not be able to go out and exercise but help clean up to get some movement in before heading to the couch. Or you can try to rally up the family to go outside and play football or maybe even go for a walk.

Continue to Hydrate:

Now that you've eaten salt, sugar and likely many carbohydrates, continue to hydrate so that you feel comfortable and can digest more easily.


No matter your goals, Thanksgiving is a special time. You can still enjoy your day, the traditions and the food without losing track of your goals.

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