Have a Happy No-guilt Thanksgiving

Have a Happy No-guilt Thanksgiving

When most of us think of Thanksgiving, visions of turkey and all the trimmings dance through our heads. After all, thanksgiving is one of the most food-centered holidays celebrated by Americans. In fact, based on my calculations of the menu I’ve created for the holiday meal, my guests will be consuming 2,500 calories at one sitting (and I didn’t even count the appetizer course)! It’s no wonder many of us gain weight this time of year. But I am simply not willing to give up the fun and flavor of the holiday (hey, it is just ONCE a year!).

Instead, here are 3 ways to eat your holiday meal without guilt.

1. Take a brisk walk
I’m going to follow the advice of Dana Friedman of NorthShore University HealthSystem and orthopedic surgeon Vonda Wright. The week before Thanksgiving Dr. Wright tweeted: “If you remove or burn 500 kcal each day you will be (-) 1 lbs by ThxGvng! Just enough to cover the 3500kcal we all eat!” Better late than never! I figure if I burn off 500 calories each day the week after Thanksgiving, I can get rid of that 1-2 lbs I’m sure to gain. Dr. Friedman points out that exercise not only prevent unwanted weight gain, it reduces the stress that might come from holiday gatherings. If you’re looking a great quick workout, check out Sharecare Fitness.

2. Lighten up a little
If you are doing cooking the holiday meal, there are plenty of sneaky ways to make your Thanksgiving dishes healthier without sacrificing flavor. The has these suggestions: For tasty light dips, sauces and pie toppings, the American Dietetic Association suggests using fat-free yogurt, fat-free sour cream or non-fat whipped topping. Another bright idea: serve lots of fresh veggies like sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, carrots and green beans.

3. Be careful with leftovers
“Thanksgiving is a holiday not a ‘holiweek’ nor a ‘holimonth,’” says Elite trainer Roshana Golstani. While the holiday fun can extend through the weekend, there’s no need to go on a four-day binge. Instead, eat the healthiest leftovers such as a lean white meat turkey sandwich and veggies.

Also, for safety’s sake, don’t let your leftovers linger too long after Turkey Day. As the American Dietetic Association says, “Regardless of how many days have passed, when in doubt— throw it out.”

Research by Cathy Poley

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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