Cutting calories at Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be complicated, boring, or stressful! These Thanksgiving diet tips range from the 80/20 rule (delicious ways to cut calories) to pedometers (easy ways to burn calories).
“With men, there’s a preference toward comfort food that’s a little more healthy, like meat, pasta and potatoes,” says food psychologist and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. “Women choose things like chips, cookies, chocolate and cake.”
The most important Thanksgiving diet tip is to be aware of your weaknesses! If you’re a meat and potatoes person, find ways to control your portion sizes. If you’re a dessert nut, learn how to indulge without overeating.
Don’t give up your exercise schedule – even if it’s just a walk around the block every couple of hours! Get a Digital Pocket Pedometer to keep you focused; counting your steps will help counteract your delicious indulgences.
Thanksgiving Diet Tips – Easy, Delicious Ways to Cut Calories
Follow healthy diet tips most of the time (the 80/20 rule)
A dietitian I recently interviewed said that if healthy people choose nutritious foods and healthy physical activity 80% of the time, they can indulge themselves 20% of the time. I love this tip for Thanksgiving dinners, because it allows us to enjoy our holiday dinners without beating ourselves up.
It’s easy: eat healthy 80% of the time, and enjoy your favorite, most delicious foods 20% of the time.
Learn what feeling full feels like
I wrote an article for people who can’t stop eating because they never feel full. One of the biggest problems – the biggest causes of weight gain over the holidays – is that we stuff ourselves until we’re bursting. We ignore our feelings of being physically full because we’re not tuned in to our minds and bodies.
At Thanksgiving, I think we give ourselves permission to eat and eat and eat and eat. The problem with that is it spills over into our normal lives after Thanksgiving, makes us feel fat and guilty, and discourages us from getting back to a healthy lifestyle. So it’s better to follow a few easy Thanksgiving diet tips, and stay healthy through the entire season.
Don’t waste your calories on foods you don’t like
Why eat boring foods like gravy and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, when you could be eating delicious foods like sweet potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and ham? You can have gravy and potatoes any time. A delicious way to cut calories at Thanksgiving is to eat foods that you love, that you don’t normally eat.
If you can’t stop mindless munching on foods you don’t even like, read the 7 Best Ways to Stop Eating at Night – From Blindfolds to Gum.
Bake a yam and eat it instead of potatoes and gravy
Instead of eating the calorie-laden yam or sweet potato dish with marshmallows, butter, and brown sugar, enjoy a simple baked yam. A yam is my favorite Thanksgiving diet tip because it’s sweet, delicious, and healthy! Bake it for at least an hour – perhaps two if it’s a big one. Slice it up, and do not put butter or gravy anywhere near it.
Remember that the most delicious, easiest way to cut calories is to avoid the extras. Gravy, butter, and salad dressings add extra calories and fat, and aren’t healthy at all.
Fill up on foods full of water and fiber before eating dinner
This one of the best Thanksgiving diet tips is volumizing: “If you eat a food that is full of water, you will eat fewer calories and lose weight,” writes Dr John LaPuma in ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine. Apples, celery, carrots, peppers, and broccoli takes longer to digest, contain fewer calories, and help you feel full without overeating.
Another diet tip is to eat broth-based soups and drink fruit smoothies before Thanksgiving dinner.
Eat Thanksgiving dinner off a small plate
Dr Brian Wansink is a food psychologist and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. His research shows that holiday weight gain can be stopped not by dieting, but by doing things such as eating off smaller plates (because small plates make food look bigger) and eating two vegetables with every meal (because the more variety you have, the more you’ll eat). His diet tips (which aren’t just for Thanksgiving) will help keep your heart healthy.
Remember that there’s a link between heart health and obesity, so you need to be strategic about how you eat and where you eat – not just what you eat.
Snack every 2-3 hours on healthy foods
To keep your metabolism burning, don’t let yourself get too hungry. Eat low-fat, low-cholesterol snacks such as cheese, crackers, nuts, and dried fruit. Since it takes a long time for the fat in nuts and cheese to metabolize, it lasts longer in your stomach. You’ll feel full longer, which will prevent you from overeating at Thanksgiving dinner. Make sure your snacks are heart healthy, and remember that a snack portion is about ¼ cup – a small handful.
Plan your meals and snacks in advance
Another dietitian I talked to said that planning is the number one step towards weight control – which affects your heart health. Planning your snacks and meals isn’t just a diet tip for Thanksgiving it’s a great way to lose weight and stay healthy. Planning your food intake reduces your unhealthy food choices and binge eating that leads to weight gain.
Involve your family and friends in your exercise schedule
Instead of sacrificing your social time to work out or neglecting your exercise to visit with family and friends, invite them to join your exercise routine. Or, try a new way to exercise over the holiday season. Activities you can do together include snowshoeing, hiking, ice skating, skiing, tobogganing, and even just walking.
After all, Thanksgiving diet tips aren’t just about holiday dinners – they’re about exercise, too.
An organic Thanksgiving dinner can be a delicious way to cut calories. Experiment with natural turkey recipes and local foods, and stick to your Thanksgiving diet tips!
If you have any tips for a healthy Thanksgiving diet that cuts calories, please comment below…
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.