Thanksgiving is hands down one of my favorite holidays. A free day to sit down with family and friends, watch some football, give thanks for all our fortunes and enjoy some delicious food. The downside to this holiday though, is that it’s also known for stuffing our faces beyond a level of comfort — so much so that it’s the norm to wear sweatpants to dinner or unbutton your pants. Cleary, as a health coach, this can be a tough holiday.
The average American consumes about 4500 calories and 229g fat on Thanksgiving day. To shift that perspective a bit, it’s a little like 4 sticks of butter and a loaf of white bread. Those pesky calories add up fast when we’re piling our plates high with meat, gravy, starchy potatoes, creamed corn, sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows, refined white stuffing, crispy green bean casserole, candied yams and crescent rolls covered in butter. We wash it down with wine and top it off with pie…and cream.
Good News: There is no reason why you can’t have your feast and be “skinny” too!
I’m totally not dissing the meal, trust me, I love it! There are just soooo many ways to make it better. I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that have allowed me to survive 39 Thanksgivings, enjoy every moment and still live in a body I love. It’s about having a plan, finding the balance and enjoying yourself and experiencing gratitude all along the way. I cover these tips in this post and in a little bit more detail in this video training I created as well. You can watch the video and access the training materials (i.e. recipes!!) here.
Skinny Thanksgiving Cooking Tips
You can totally enjoy all these traditional Thanksgiving favorites! There are just a few simple swaps you can make that don’t steal flavor, they only make the dishes tastier and better for you. You can make them all if you’re hosting or start with one or two if you’re brining just a dish to share. Nobody needs to know these are “healthy” it can be our secret..
- Roasted Turkey – Add fresh fruit juice and/or broth and use half the oil or butter in your baste. Here’s how I did mine last year.
- Mashed Potatoes – Use Greek yogurt instead of butter and cream.
- Green Bean Casserole – Steam green beans, drizzle with olive oil, lemon and toasted almonds.
- Gravy – use broth instead of cream for volume.
- Sweet Potato Casserole/Candied Yams – Roast sweet potatoes with apples, turnips, parsnips and onions in a little bit of olive or coconut oil. Top with fresh thyme, salt and pepper.
- Stuffing – Swap the crusty white bread with quinoa, diced cauliflower and shredded carrots. Here’s last year’s recipe – I’m making a version of it this year too.
- Creamed Corn – replace it with a fresh salad with greens, candied walnuts, fresh roasted corn and a little bit of gorgonzola cheese.
- Crescent Rolls – consider that you might not need them or swap them with a crunchy cranberry muffin recipe that probably won’t need butter!
- Pie – if you’ve saved room, you can swap your traditionally pie for this super yummy apple cobbler with peanut butter crumble. You can top it with a little vanilla ice cream
Calorie Burning Workout Tricks
You sure can eat calories faster than you can burn them, but starting the day with a workout is the best way to put things in perspective and keep things in balance. When you run or walk your local 5K and you realize you burned maybe 300 calories and that’s not more than two roles or a piece a pie — it can make it easier to skip that second bite. Here are my favorite things to do Thanksgiving morning:
- Local 5K/10K race.
- Morning spin or yoga class.
- My favorite park workout.
- This bad A** chair workout.
- If you’re traveling, there’s this hotel room workout.
Lists can go on and on, the most important thing is that you just get up and go do something for at least 21 minutes. And not just because it’s Thanksgiving, because it’s any day 🙂
The 10-Point Thanksgiving Day Challenge
Here are the 10 simple things you can do next Thursday (and every Thanksgiving there after) to fully enjoy yourself and not go overboard and do any serious damage to your body. You earn one point for everything you do — how many points can you get?
Get ready for a happy & healthy Thanksgiving!
What are your favorite healthy holiday tips?
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