7 Ways to Make Your Thanksgiving Feast Healthier

Enjoy the holiday fare without the weight gain


Healthy Food

(Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com)

Thanksgiving is an American holiday that was originally a harvest festival that the pilgrims celebrated after their first successful harvest. It has morphed into a holiday to express gratitude for what we have and Thanksgiving dinner where we eat the foods that are part of our family traditions and childhood memories.

The annual Thanksgiving feast is filled with Turkey and all the trimmings, followed by deliciously sweet desserts. Thanksgiving and healthy meal sound like an oxymoron.

But the holiday meal doesn't have to come with a weight gain. People typically consume between 3,000-5,000 calories at a typical Thanksgiving dinner but it doesn't have to be that way. Now you can build a healthier Thanksgiving plate. The key is to make healthier choices. If you are hosting the meal, or just bringing a dish, here are some tips.

1. Eat Breakfast

The Pritikin Longevity Center recommends that you eat a big healthy breakfast, like an omelet and whole grain cereal and not starve yourself before the meal or you are sure to overindulge. It is difficult to make good food choices if you are really hungry.

(Foxys Forest Manufacture / Shutterstock.com)

2. Keep Appetizers Light and Healthy

Set out a plate of raw veggies. If you are creative, you can make a festive vegetable turkey platter that is sure to be a hit with your family. Or serve a fall healthy soup like butternut squash or broccoli and carrot.

(Eric Urquhart / Shutterstock.com)

3. Go Heavy on Colorful Vegetables

Vegetables that are darker like broccoli, spinach, or brussels sprouts are very good for you. Make fresh grilled or roasted vegetables and try to avoid casseroles that are usually full of cream and butter.

(Elena Veselova / Shutterstock.com)

4. Gobble Gobble

Turkey is already low in calories and a healthy part of the Thanksgiving meal. White meat has less fat than dark meat, so you if you are not feeding a crowd, you can make a breast instead of a whole turkey. Avoid the skin and go easy on the gravy.

(Bochkarev Photography / Shutterstock.com)

5. Make Your Heirloom Thanksgiving Recipes

Don’t give up your classic Thanksgiving recipes, modify the recipes to make them healthier. Add more vegetables to stuffing and cook it outside of the Turkey. Use fewer marshmallows on your sweet potatoes. Take smaller portions of the seasonal foods you love and skip the foods like mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and corn that you can have any time of the year.

(Lightfield Studios / Shutterstock.com)

6. Lighten the Dessert

You can reduce the amount of sugar in pies and they will still be delicious. Pumpkin pie can be made with low-fat evaporated milk. Make a one-crust fruit pie or just use crumbles on the top. You can use low-fat whipping cream for the same great taste. People like to sample all the deserts, so you can also cut pies and deserts into smaller pieces.

(Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock.com)

7. Get up and Move

After you are done eating, take a walk or a bicycle ride. Walking burns between 90-200 calories in 30 minutes depending on the pace. Play sports instead of being a couch potato and watching TV.

(Lopolo / Shutterstock.com)

Most importantly, don't stress. Thanksgiving is about spending time with your family and friends. If you overindulge, it's just one day. So, take a walk instead of a nap and have a happy holiday.