Healthy Eating

Tips For a Healthier Thanksgiving Plate (No Deprivation Required)

And yes, you can still enjoy the pumpkin pie.

By: Rebecca Jacobs

Real talk—Thanksgiving is literally right around the corner, and if the thought of prepping all those yummy foods has you stressed, we feel ya. Between the actual food prep to deciding what you should and shouldn’t be eating, things can get stressful. But, we’re here to share healthy Thanksgiving tips to make Thanksgiving dinner delish, but also healthy. Oh, and no deprivation required here. It is the holiday season, after all! 

The Top Healthy Thanksgiving Tips You Need For Your Healthiest Thanksgiving Yet 

#1 Simplify Portion Control 

Portion control on Thanksgiving? (says no one ever). But, with some simple healthy Thanksgiving hacks to reigning some of those Thanksgiving portions in, you will feel much better waking up on Black Friday. By just cutting your portions down a tad, you can say goodbye to that post Thanksgiving meal bloat as you gear up for your holiday shopping spree. 

Here are some hacks to make portion control a no-brainer as you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner. 

  • Divide your plate: You can divide your plate without actually using one of those cool official divider plates. Just mentally split your plate into three portions. One large portion for your veggies, a medium section for your protein, and a small section for your carbs. 
  • Eat your veggies first: When you dive into your Thanksgiving meal, start by eating your veggies first. You will be more likely to fill up on the healthy goodness, and only have a little room for that carb-heavy stuffing. 
  • Listen to Your Body: While it’s easy to woof down a Thanksgiving meal, and throw mindful eating out the window, listening to your body is such a great healthy Thanksgiving tip that you can carry with you through the entire holiday season. Take a moment to just stop and listen to your body after you eat your first Thanksgiving dinner portion. Are you really still hungry enough for a second plate, or is your body telling you to slow down? Try to tune in, and when you feel like you are 80% full, stop. You will feel SO much better and not as bloated and fatigued after a giant Thanksgiving meal. 

#2 Get Smart About Macros

No, we’re not telling you to actually count macros on Thanksgiving. I mean, who really wants to do that during the holiday season? But, you can get smart about macros without having to do any math at all. When you start to fill up your Thanksgiving plate, go for all the green and colorful goodness first (think asparagus, sweet potatoes, cranberries), then go for the protein (aka turkey). The last thing you should add to your plate once it’s already almost full is carbs. This ties back to our portion control tips, as well. It’s really just about making sure you are filling most of your plate with healthier low-carb options first and enjoying the heavier carb options in moderation. 

This hack will help you limit how much cornbread you chow down on and how big of a scoop of mashed potatoes you fill up on. It’s an easy healthy Thanksgiving tip that takes the stress out of actually calculating how many carbs you’re consuming on Thanksgiving day. 

#3 Get Side Dish Savvy 

One of our favorite healthy Thanksgiving tips is to get side dish savvy. If you can make the side dishes yourself, that’s even better! But, if not, you can get creative with what’s offered at Thanksgiving dinner by being smart about your choices. Try to stick to veggies first and opt for a smaller plate, so there’s less room to fill up on the sides. This will leave more room for the main dish (like turkey) and less room for heavy carb sides. 

If you’re bringing your own side dish, you can whip up something like mashed sweet potatoes made with a splash of coconut milk and sea salt. Or, try making roasted veggies with carrots, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts with some olive oil and garlic. Yum! 

#4 Make Those Sweets a Little Sweeter (for your health that is) 

If post Thanksgiving dinner comes with a side of pumpkin pie, we’re definitely not here to tell you not to eat it. Life is all about balance, and this time of year, we all love enjoying delish foods with friends and family gathered around the dinner table. But, here’s the thing—you can enjoy that piece of pumpkin or apple pie and do so without the sugar overload. 

This year, make those sweets a little sweeter for your health by signing yourself up to be the one to bring the dessert to Thanksgiving dinner. This way, you can reduce the sugar content, and even consider swapping refined sugar with some pure maple syrup, raw honey, or coconut sugar. You can even try swapping out that traditional whipped cream you serve with your favorite pie with some homemade coconut whipped cream instead. All you need is a can of full-fat coconut cream, a splash of vanilla extract, and a high-speed blender. Whip until it turns into a whipped cream-like consistency! Viola, you just saved yourself loads of added sugar and guilt that often comes after Thanksgiving dessert. 

A Sample Healthy Thanksgiving Plate 

Ok, so let’s put this all into real life. Here’s a sample healthy Thanksgiving plate that’s full of all the deliciousness you want, but portioned perfectly to leave you feeling satisfied but not full enough that you’re stuck in that post-turkey haze. 

Here’s the perfect example of what a balanced Thanksgiving plate looks like. There’s plenty of greens, a side of cranberry sauce, a decent portion of turkey, and a scoop of mashed potatoes. It’s balanced and will satisfy all of those holiday food cravings come Thanksgiving day. 

Now go and enjoy that Thanksgiving feast! You now know exactly how to enjoy Thanksgiving and all of the yumminess that comes with it, while still keeping your health in mind. 

Happy Thanksgiving!