Avoid the Food Coma: 19 ways to be Healthy on Thanksgiving

By Michael Galvan | 11/17/2015

Thanksgiving is the time to enjoy some of your favorite foods with people close to you, but that doesn’t mean you have to forego your focus on better health and all your recent fitness gains.By saving yourself a few hundred calories at the dinner table, you can count the meal as a victory—and it may be much easier than you think. Taking steps to enjoy the annual Thanksgiving feast without over doing it may be much simpler than you think.

Trying some of these 19 tips can help you have a great Thanksgiving and protect your waist line.

1. Drink lots of water

Research studies have shown that drinking water before a meal is a great method to control appetite. 2 Staying hydrated will also help you avoid reaching for soda, which can add to your calorie and sugar counts.

2. Wake up early and work out

Start the day off on a positive note, wake up early and get some exercise. Burning calories in the morning will help you feel better about what you consume in the afternoon.

3. Take it easy on the alcohol

Drinking a lot of alcohol will quickly add inches to your waist line. Alcoholic beverages are notoriously high in calories. Limit yourself to a glass or two of wine, and if you are drinking beer, try and stick with the lighter versions.

4. Eat breakfast

Don’t starve yourself until the main meal. A healthy breakfast makes you less hungry during meal time, and more likely to eat reasonable portions.

5. Participate in a group activity

A turkey trot, touch football, or even a game of knockout can help you slow the belly busting. It’s also a great way to interact with the people you care about.

6. Take it slow

Thanksgiving is not a race. There is no need to try to eat everything in record time. Eat slowly and enjoy every bite of the delicious food. A slower pace will help you digest your food and eat smarter.

7. Don’t go a la mode

Pie is already tasty, no need to double down with ice cream.

8. Save some for leftovers

When you feel full, it’s OK to stop. Leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving.

9. Try a smaller plate

Eating from a smaller plate may help make you become more conscious of how much you are eating.

10. Help with the clean up

After the dust settles, help clean things up. Staying on your feet and moving is a good way to kick-start your metabolism—and score points with you host.

11. Limit the red meat

The World Health Organization recently classified red meat as: probably carcinogenic to humans.  Even if you aren’t sold on their findings, there is no doubt that red meat is higher in calories and fat that lean poultry.

12. Pass the bread basket

Shying away from rolls is an easy way to make your thanksgiving experience a healthier one. You’ll quickly save on unnecessary carbs and sugars.

13. Choose wisely

Don’t waste calories on food that you can eat all year long. Save your “cheat day” for holiday food that won’t come around again soon.

14. Choose pumpkin pie over apple pie

Surprise! Pumpkin pie is healthier than apple pie, embrace the big orange vegetable this year.

15. Take equal portions

Spread the love—don’t pile massive servings of a single food group onto your plate at one time. It’s much healthier to eat a reasonable amount of several different items.

16. Beware of trap foods

Not all thanksgiving foods are created equal, especially when it comes to sides. Many casseroles are secretly loaded with carbohydrates and fat; and cranberry sauce is surprisingly high in sugar. Plan ahead for healthier choices and better alternatives.

17. Resist the urge to smear things in butter and sprinkle them in salt

Before most Thanksgiving food gets to your table, it has already had lots of oil and butter added in. You can easily save on calories by not adding additional fats, and limiting the use of salt. Don’t be the person who empties the salt shaker.

18. Don’t eat the skin

To be fair, turkey skin does have more nutrients than other types of meat, but it still adds extra calories. If you can live without it, just peel it off.

19. Enjoy yourself!

The holidays can be stressful enough, be happy you are surrounded by loved ones, try to make the right choices, and if you eat a little too much—don’t beat yourself up. Being healthy at Thanksgiving is about controlling the damage, not skipping the meal altogether. Plan in advance and choose several of the suggestions above to balance the areas you splurge. You’ll feel better about your holiday meal if you plan ahead for which things you can pass over, to enjoy the ones you really love. Don’t forget to go the gym the next morning and get back on your wellness journey without delay.