How to Avoid Stuffing Yourself at Thanksgiving

Simple tips for a healthier Thanksgiving

by Kara Quillard

Cheers to the holiday of gratitude! Let’s give thanks to good company, delicious feasts and …stretchy pants? Time to ditch the sweats and the pounds. Stay on track this holiday season. Here are 5 ways to avoid extra gobbled weight. 

The average American “consumes about 3,000 calories at a Thanksgiving meal, but it can go as high as 5,000”, Mary Hartley, RD, an online nutritionist, says.

That’s about 1-3 extra pounds, which is more than double the recommended daily consumption! How can we avoid these pesky calories and enjoy our meals?

“Do not look at Thanksgiving as an excuse to overeat,” Hartley added.

Just “quit the clean the plate club and give up the feast-or-famine mindset.” After all, Thanksgiving is a time for enjoyment, not indulging.

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Throw a Turkey Touchdown

Know your opponents. Prior to arrival, plan ahead. Find out what food and drink will be offered and make choices accordingly. Watch out for the linebackers: alcohol. Alcohol contains empty calories and future hunger pains. Also, don’t go hungry. “Have something to eat before you go. If you’ve waited until the party to eat, you may be too hungry to make good choices.” Drink plenty of fluids especially water. Follow your gut and eat only when you’re hungry. Good call, Mary Hartley

Sit at the Kid’s Table

Well, not literally. But do sit away from the food. Stepping away from those buttered rolls, you are less likely to snack. Concentrate on socializing with your friends, family, and the party. Stand tall, roll those shoulders back, and smile. Remind yourself to be present. 

Gratitude with Attitude

Use positive thoughts to motivate you through the meal. “Use visualization to imagine feeling self assured at the event”, Hartley says. Let’s try it. Breathe in. I am relaxed. Breathe out. I’m finally having a coherent conversation with my deranged aunt. Breathe in. I am eating the foods I truly love. Breathe out. Today, I am actually enjoying my grandfather’s camera flash, three inches from my eyes. “Adopt this attitude for the duration and you will not gain weight,”  Hartley  encourages readers. 

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Eat Healthy

Surrounded by stuffing, gravy, and mashed potatoes, it is hard to keep green and lean. When eating meat, eat three ounces, about the size of a woman’s hand. Try three ounces of roasted white turkey. It’s only 135 calories! Or try three ounces of roasted dark turkey. It’s 242 calories. Here are a few other healthy options Hartley offers. 


  • 3 pieces of Shrimp, with Cocktail Sauce: 30 calories

  • Light Beer, 12 oz 124 calories

  • Tossed salad with Oil and Vinegar, 10 calories

  • Turkey Gravy, 1/4 cup: 50 calories

  • Mashed Potatoes, 1 cup: 95 calories

  • Honey Glazed Carrots, 1/2 cup: 45 calories

  • Peas and Pearl Onions, 1/2 cup: 40 calories

  • Cranberry Relish, 1/4 cup: 38 calories 

  • For dessert, have ½ cup of low fat vanilla ice cream. But if you really want to indulge, have a slice of pumpkin pie (about 9”). It’s the healthiest pie, about 316 calories. 


Exercise smaller thighs

“The best exercise to do after Thanksgiving is the one you actually do”, states Hartley. Post-meal, a walk may feel better than a nap. Go outside or slip back into yoga. Remember, stretch your muscles…not your pants. 


When you find yourself inches away from a glorious Thanksgiving feast and your eyes grow bigger than your stomach, remember these 5 simple tips.

“Overeating, if it occurs, is water under the bridge. Look at every new day as an opportunity to try to eat healthy,” Hartley advises.

Try to use positive affirmations like, “I can be happy with a reasonable amount of food at Thanksgiving dinner.” Stay positive and in control.

Let’s be serious, don’t you want to look great for your family Christmas photo? 

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