Does your anxiety level rise as the calendar creeps closer to Thanksgiving? For those with weight goals or health concerns, stress is often on the menu. But, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to enjoy your holiday without feeling like an overstuffed bird. Check out my healthy Thanksgiving tips below to find out how!


Don’t forgo eating early in the day. This is common practice on Thanksgiving, with people trying to “save” calories for the big meal to come. But going into a smorgasbord like Thanksgiving with a growling tummy is not a good idea. Hunger can make it very difficult to stick with healthier choices, and makes impulse decisions (like that second slice of pie) more likely. Instead, feed your body with small, nutrient-packed meals early in the day. Think, protein smoothie with a handful of greens added, or a filling bowl of vegetable soup.


Go easy on the appetizers. Think about it: could you recall with accuracy how many bites and tastes you had while chatting with your fellow dinner guests? Probably not. Eating while distracted is one of the more troublesome habits when it comes to healthy eating. Cut down on the damage by filling a small plate with healthier choices – like fresh vegetables and dip, salad, and nuts – and stick with that until dinner is served.


Get the good stuff in first. Start your meal with protein-rich foods and nutrient-dense veggies. Luckily, the centerpiece of many Thanksgiving tables, the turkey, fits the bill for a healthy high-protein food. Round out your plate with some colorful vegetables like green beans, squash, or carrots, to get in some good nutrition while taking the edge off your hunger.


Be picky. Just because it’s on the table doesn’t mean you need to eat it. In other words, save space in your diet (and on your plate) for those foods you really look forward to. For example, if your sister’s sweet potato casserole with marshmallows is one of your holiday favorites, have at it. But if not, don’t hesitate to bypass it for something you really want.


Wrap it up. This one applies to any food left after its first pass around the table. Many times, the excess calories we eat, and that overstuffed “Thanksgiving full” feeling come courtesy of second helpings. Instead, set it aside for doggy bags to send home with your guests. You’ll be thankful when you still have room for dessert.


With a little planning, even a holiday like Thanksgiving can be as healthy as it is tasty. In addition to the above suggestions, don’t hesitate to create some new, non-food traditions as well. For example, a post-meal walk, ball game, or craft project. And last but certainly not least – whatever you do, remember to have fun and enjoy your time with family and friends!


Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Virtual Health Partners.