Surviving Thanksgiving on a Diet



I am a follower of the Popsugar fitness blog, Fitsugar, and when I stumbled across this post (or more specifically, the image above) I laughed and nodded, agreeing 100% with what that cute turkey poster says.

Thanksgiving is a holiday that strikes fear into the food journal of dieters (and people maintaining their goal) everywhere. With turkey, rich gravies, sweet potato casseroles and everything in between all looming above their heads, people really start stressing (myself included) about how they are going to diet this Thanksgiving.

Here’s my advice in one word:


Now, I know that sounds completely crazy, but just hear me out.  I am NOT saying to completely blow away all the hard work you have put in this far and gorge yourself until you’re sick.  Do not do that!  What I’m saying is don’t stress about it so much.  It’s so easy to worry about the butter in the mashed potatoes or the fat in the pumpkin and pecan pies, but what will that do for you? Nothing except cause your mind to whirl a mile a minute and fear the day that we’re supposed to give thanks on.

Thanksgiving is one day.  It’s okay to enjoy all of the dishes that got you excited before you were dieting.  It’s okay to have seconds, and it is most definitely okay to try a little bit of each pie that hits the dessert table 🙂

The key to surviving Thanksgiving on a diet without making yourself miserable is definitely not denying yourself the pleasures of the holiday, but it’s about preparing for it accordingly.  Here are a few tips I’ve come up with (or read in one place or another) that will help me not only survive, but enjoy my Thanksgiving.

It’s all about preparation

You know that this day of feasting is coming, so plan ahead and make changes leading up to the big meal.

  • Hit the gym a little longer/ more frequently than normal.  Knowing that I won’t be working out while visiting family, I have made it a point to make sure I’ve worked out every day leading up to (and including) my travel day.
  • Be a little more strict during the week before.  Track, eat lighter, and make sure you have those weekly Points and extra calories stored up for that big meal
  • Bring a dish! Offer to make a dieted down side dish or offer to bring fruit for dessert.  Then, among all of the decadent options, you’ll feel a little better knowing something on your plate is guilt free.
  • Using air travel to get home for the holidays?  Once you get to your gate and realize you still have 30 minutes of waiting to do, walk around the airport.  You can power walk, dodge people, and burn a few extra calories before you’re stuck sitting for the flight.

The big day:

  • Eat breakfast!  For some reason people always think skipping meals before a big meal is the answer.  What happens when you do that?  You’re SO hungry by Thanksgiving dinner that you pile your plate way too high and stuff yourself until you’re bursting at the seams. Instead, try having a filling, but light, breakfast.  Egg whites and fat free cheese with  a light whole grain english muffin or a bowl of oatmeal are amazing, filling, and healthy options.
  • Start small.  I know it’s tempting to go ahead and load up half of your plate full of your favorite potato dish and call it a night, but odds are there are so many good looking options at the table, why not try them all?  In small portions!  Then you get a little potato, some protein rich turkey, and odds are a serving or two of different veggies.
  • Take your time. You know the tricks: eat slow, sip water between bite, put your fork down, etc.  This allows time for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full.  Odds are, if you slow down and pay attention you will find that you are satisfied with less food than you thought you’d need.


  • After dinner, go for a walk (if weather permits), or offer to help clean or run around outside with the kiddos.  Getting moving will help you digest and burn a few extra cals, just in time for dessert 🙂
  • Are you a Black Friday shopper?  Walk it off in the mall before you start shopping!
  • Get back on track.  Don’t let the one day knock you down for a month.  You came, you ate, and you enjoyed every bite!  That’s GREAT!  Back to the grind on Friday!

All in all friends, just remember this: It’s one day.  As long as you enjoyed yourself and stayed a little mindful in the process, you can pick yourself back up on Friday morning and your body will be just fine.  Maybe the scale goes up a little in the next weigh in… It’s nothing that a few days back on track and in the gym won’t be able to fix.

Relax, enjoy, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!


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