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by Casey McIlvaine

Another Thanksgiving is upon us, which means it’s time to make some decisions on how to best regulate our delicious food intake. If you want to strike a balance between enjoying the holiday gastronomically and staying true to your fitness regimen, here are a few Thanksgiving fitness tips to help you walk that line.

Staying healthy during thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about preparation for those that want to stay fit and healthy all year round. That can mean starting a calorie deficit before Thanksgiving by dropping a few calories in the weeks before the big day while upping your fitness regimen time to burn more calories. The cornerstone of “eating less and exercising more” works well before and after the holiday to keep the weight in check.

On Thanksgiving Day, start by having a small meal in the morning such as an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast, or a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk. This will help you regulate your eating throughout the day. It pays to take a walk in the morning and plan for one after dinner as simple ways to get some physical activity beyond your regular workout.

If you’re part of the Thanksgiving Dinner prep squad, try to substitute a little of the fatty ingredients for low fat, low calorie substitutes or use lesser amounts. A little less sugar and fat in most dishes won’t affect the taste and will go a long way to reducing potential weight gain. Things like sugar substitutes for desserts and fat free chicken broth to baste the turkey as well as substituting yogurt or fat free sour cream for mashed potato ingredients like butter and cream can help.


As you survey the spread at dinner time, make some decisions on what you will and will not have as there are always more dishes than you need to have for a solid meal. White turkey meat, plain vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and low-fat gravy are all much better than going for the fattiest higher calorie foods.

Choose the things that you have once a year and leave others out. Portion control is your friend, so always go for less. Be sure not to fool yourself by going back for seconds or thirds as a way to get more food after choosing smaller portions.

Even if you have trained yourself to thoroughly masticate your food and eat slowly, it can be a challenge at Thanksgiving. Things like putting down your fork between bites helps. You can also choose to eat foods with lots of water and fiber as a way to reach that full feeling without over-indulging.

Keep in mind that the goal of making it through Thanksgiving is to not gain any weight. Engaging these tips can help in that goal, but so too can concentrating on the family feeling and conversation of the holiday rather than the food.

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