How I Enjoy Thanksgiving Without Packing on the Pounds


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It often gets lost between Halloween and Christmas here in the US (represented this year by the neighbor on one side having harvest/fall decorations up and my other neighbor having Christmas decorations up already) because it’s far less commercial than other holidays. There’s no special candy, no gift-giving, and not a ton of decorating to be done. It’s a holiday for family, love, food, and maybe football if you’re so inclined.

Since I lost my dad, The Hubs and I cook Thanksgiving dinner at home for just the two of us. Our moms both live several hours away, and neither one of us has an easy time getting leave from work around the holiday. I don’t mind it just being the two of us: it’s a nice, relaxing, quiet day, and after dinner we drive to my Godmother’s house, where we spend time with extended family and overindulge on dessert!

Behaving myself for the main meal makes enjoying dessert thoroughly okay in my book. It’s once a year, and none of those desserts come home with us, so it saves me from sneaking a slice of pie before bed! Here’s my healthified Thanksgiving menu:

  • Herb Compound Butter Roasted Turkey w/ Homemade Gravy
  • Bread Stuffing (yes, I use a boxed stuffing)
  • Baked Sweet Potato Slices with Bruleed Marshmallows
  • Succotash (mine is just baby lima beans and corn, that’s it)
  • Homemade Reduced Sugar Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
  • Crescent Rolls

It may still be close to 1000 calories, but considering the average Thanksgiving dinner is 4500 calories, that’s pretty darn good!

We keep the day simple too, and plan out the day. We eat a healthy breakfast, have our meal at 1 or 2 pm, and we’re full until dessert at 7.  Once I get the turkey in the oven in the morning, I plan on taking a nice long walk to burn some calories, and I definitely won’t be skipping my Thursday workout, especially since it’s only 20 minutes!

Here are a few more strategies I use to avoid holiday gain:

  • Only make enough food for two meals. The exception to this is the turkey itself. There are a LOT of turkey leftovers, but turkey meat is a healthy meat, and can be used in a variety of different ways. Just leave off the skin and use it in soups, stews, casseroles, etc. (My husband’s favorite is sticking all the leftover’s on a hoagie roll to make a sandwich like the WaWa Gobbler!)



  • Have more veggies. And no, mashed potatoes don’t count. And sweet potato casserole doesn’t count either, since it’s more like a dessert. Eat plain steamed veggies, or spice them up a bit. Instead of sweet potato casserole, I’m roasting thick slices of sweet potato and then topping them with a bruleed marshmallow. MUCH healthier and still hits that sweet spot!
  • Control your portions! Have a small amount of everything you like, savor every bite, then wait a while before deciding if you’d like more. You may find you’re too full for seconds.
  • Only eat your absolute favorite foods. If you’re at a holiday table full of various dishes, choose to eat only your favorites. It’s why I don’t even bother making mashed potatoes anymore. And green bean casserole? Meh.

So do you have any tips or tricks for surviving Thanksgiving weight gain? Let me know in the comments!


9 thoughts on “How I Enjoy Thanksgiving Without Packing on the Pounds”

  1. We have done Thanksgiving Dinner alone for years. Just my little family. We used to do the big meal, but we don’t anymore. I don’t eat meat and my guys are not huge on turkey so we makes something fun that we don’t eat often like enchiladas or I’ll make fried chicken for my guys. Honestly though, i never watched what I ate on Thanksgiving. I had what I wanted and moved on. I always looked at it as one meal, on one day and left it at that. And for the record….I always loved green bean casserole. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I sort of mean roasted. So you can do it over a gas stove flame, or a can of Sterno, or use a kitchen sized blowtorch and just brown them until they’re golden brown (or burnt like I like them!). I may even throw the baked slices of sweet potato in a cupcake tin, top with marshmallows and throw them under the broiler for a few minutes (watching carefully to make sure they don’t burst into flames ha-ha)


  2. Reblogged this on A Measured Life and commented:

    Can you believe Thanksgiving is only TWO WEEKS AWAY? I originally posted this blog on November 16, 2015. My menu may change a little this year, but the principles are still the same. Even better? I signed up to do a Turkey Trot 5K Thanksgiving morning! I’ll have burned most of the calories I eat at dinner before lunch! 🙂

    Let me know your coping strategies in the comments!


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