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Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

By Sarah S – Jenny Craig

Each year at Thanksgiving, we gather around the dinner table and spoil our taste buds and often our diet with sugary cranberry sauce, salty gravy, and heaps of mashed potatoes. For a day that is so focused on food, it’s easy to get lost in the kitchen and forget the true meaning of the day. 


Is it possible to truly enjoy this so-called “turkey day” in the midst of a successful weight loss journey? Absolutely! Use these easy tips to help you stay on track during the long weekend—and get a healthy jump on the holiday season.


Stay active.
You’ve got a few days off… put them to good use! If you’re not the spontaneous exercise type, check your gym or yoga studio’s Thanksgiving weekend schedule a few days in advance, then make a firm plan to attend the most appealing classes; you’ll be more likely to go if you make a workout date with a friend.


Exercise as a family
Step out of the kitchen for some fresh, crisp autumn air and exercise as a family. Go for a walk before and after dinner in the falling leaves, cruise around the neighborhood on bicycles, or organize a fun game of football in the backyard. If the weather is uncooperative for outdoor activity plans, do something fun in the family room, such as “gobble games.” You could even break tradition and head for the ski hill!


Many cities even host “turkey trots” the day of; sign up with the family for a fun activity. If the weather forecast looks fair, plan a hike with your family—and by all means, don’t let the actual holiday be an excuse to laze around! Going for a brisk walk an hour after the feast is a wonderful way to avoid the “turkey nap.”


Eat smart.
Nobody’s expecting you to be a “diet saint” on this particular Thursday—but you also don’t want one anything-goes meal to derail two weeks’ worth of healthy choices. So when you’re filling your plate on Thanksgiving, choose wisely. Use your visual portioning guide. Load up on healthy veggies, choosing steamed or lightly sautéed dishes over creamy casseroles or marshmallow-covered yams. Here’s a tried-and-true plate-filling trick: use one dinner roll to make a turkey-cranberry slider, then fill the rest of your plate with lightly dressed salad or green vegetables. Then ensure that you stay on track by choosing a Jenny Craig dessert over pie. Our Apple Crisp and Chocolate Walnut Brownie are even more delicious after about 20 seconds in the microwave.


While it may be easy to have seconds or indulge in two different types of pies, be aware of the potential effect on your healthier lifestyle. Avoid overeating by eating smaller portions of starchy, high-calorie foods like potatoes and stuffing and filling your plate with lean turkey and colorful vegetables. Don’t go back for seconds! Pick one dish to splurge on, like putting gravy on both your potatoes and turkey or saving room for a slice of pumpkin pie. Of course, be sure to stop eating when you’re full!

Give thanks.
When everyone around you is on the second piece of pie, you might be tempted to notice what you don’t have. If you feel this happening, this is a perfect opportunity to exercise your gratitude muscle! Take a few moments to mentally immerse yourself in gratitude for everything that’s going right in your life. Now focus specifically on your weight loss journey: what has giving up unhealthy habits given back in return? Whether it’s a boost to your self-esteem, a few smaller-sized pieces in your wardrobe or more energy to chase your toddler, let those good vibes wash over you! Continuing to make healthy choices should be easy as you-know-what.

So often Thanksgiving turns into a hectic day spent in the kitchen basting the turkey and baking pie after pie. You might miss out on what the day is actually all about – being thankful for family, friends, health, and home. Keep the day simple by not focusing on the food and recognizing the importance of togetherness. If you can, prepare (healthy version) of stuffing, salads, and desserts the day before, so you can simplify the traditional dinner and spend more time with the family. Gather with your family and friends before you eat to talk about what you’re thankful for this year. You can even be grateful for the progress you’ve made on your weight loss program!


Catch up with friends
Skip the chip-and-dip appetizers and fill your pre-dinner time with catching up with friends. You’ll be less likely to munch on snacks if you’re chatting with your neighbors and friends that you invited over for dinner about their latest news!


Avoid leftovers.
If we’re being honest—and we ALWAYS are, here at Jenny Craig—we know that one of the most challenging things about Thanksgiving weekend is those amazing leftovers! To avoid being tempted for the next few days, enlist your family’s help: have each member pack up one complete meal, including dessert, in separate containers with their names on them. Then considering packing up everything else for those less fortunate. Most homeless shelters welcome food donations, so find one near you and swing by with your extras.




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