5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Thanksgiving

by Alicia Lawrence

Even the fittest of fitness enthusiasts and the healthiest of healthy eaters can struggle during the holiday season. Thanksgiving especially — a whole holiday organized around eating — is a difficult day to maintain your healthy habits.

However, who among us doesn’t like a challenge? We’ve got some simple solutions to help you battle that bulge and cure the celebration coma without missing out on any of the Thanksgiving traditions … including gravy.

Turkey Trot

A sign of the health-conscious influence during the holidays is the Turkey Trot. Many communities around the country host a 5k or longer race on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a great way to burn some pre-meal calories.

If your community doesn’t a Turkey Trot, map out an unofficial course for you and whoever you’re celebrating with. First one done doesn’t have to help with clean up. Running a 5k burns between 300 and 400 calories. So think about starting a new family tradition and schedule your day around running or walking a 5k.

Family Fun

Make your family’s well-being the focus for the day with some active family quality time. Put down the electronic devices while the turkey is cooking and head outside for a family football game. Or, if the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor fun, start an indoor Wii competition.

Another great way to get moving and spend time with loved ones is a post-meal walk. Not only does it keep you from an after dinner stupor, but research suggests that walks as short as 15 minutes after a meal aid digestion and improve blood sugar levels. Map out a stroll around your neighborhood and enjoy the benefits of a good stretch of the legs. This is also a great time to talk about Thanksgiving and maybe bring up some of these interesting facts:

Vegetable Side Dishes

Now let’s get back to the table. It’s Thanksgiving. We get that. We don’t want you to miss out on the fun or the turkey and stuffing. However, that means you should make an effort to add some healthiness to your plate.

Whether you’re hosting or bringing a side dish to contribute, try recipes that are heavy on the vegetables and light on the sauces. Oven roasted veggies like broccoli or squash or Brussels sprouts are a healthy, colorful and flavorful way to not overdo it.

Skip It or Swap It

Since it is a holiday, we tend to think we should splurge. If you’re excited about the gravy and the cranberry sauce, skip the dinner rolls. You can have a roll anytime. Save the 150 calories for a real holiday treat.

Speaking of treats, if you’re not willing to skip them, consider swapping a higher calorie dessert for a lower calorie one. Pecan pie is a big time Thanksgiving tradition. Unfortunately it can run between 400 and 500 calories a slice. Go for the pumpkin and apple pies instead, which run around 300 calories a slice.

Proper Preparation

You might think that it goes without saying, but one of the best ways to have a healthy Thanksgiving is to follow proper cooking procedures.

  • Avoid cross-contamination between raw poultry and meats and fresh produce.
  • Cook your turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Bring your gravy to a rolling boil.
  • Don’t let your holiday feast sit out for longer than two hours. Better yet, pack up and refrigerate your leftovers as soon as you’re done eating so you aren’t tempted to graze.
     When in doubt, ask an expert. The FDA has holiday cooking information online for consumers and don’t forget you can always call 1-800-BUTTERBALL. 

BIO: Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for a tech company and writes for Examiner.com and AskMissA.com.   Her husband is a personal trainer and as a family they make it a top priority to live healthy.

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES


About Mark


Mark Dilworth is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and since 2006 he has owned Your Fitness University, Her Fitness Hut, My Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut.

Mark has helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle changes that lead to better long-term health, which includes acceptable body fat and ideal body weight.He does not recommend fad diets, quick weight loss gimmicks, starvation diets, weight loss pills, fat burner supplements and the like.