November Blog- Tips for Staying Healthy at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a day where we gather with friends and family to give thanks. Thanksgiving is also a day that often revolves around food and begins a long food-filled holiday season.  For those that have a fitness goal or are working towards healthier habits, Thanksgiving might feel like more of a battle than anything else.

According to the article Wellness Warriors of Wayne State University a recent study found that on average most people only gain about 1 pound over the entire holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day).  So there is no reason to stress about weight gain during the holidays especially not over what you eat on one single day.

It is possible to have a healthy Thanksgiving without feeling deprived. It’s all about balance – enjoy yourself without overdoing it. Here are some useful tips that will allow you to enjoy Thanksgivings while keeping your health/ fitness goals in sight:

  1. Indulge for a day NOT THE SEASON– Usually Thanksgiving is a day or two of planned overeating which isn’t going to set you back in the long run, however, it is important to get back to your healthy habits after.
  2. Keep up with your exercise routine- the holiday season tends to be a busy time of year for our social schedules leaving our exercise schedule on the back burner. Staying consistent is key, even if it means squeezing in a 20 minute home work out while watching football or going for a long morning walk after putting the turkey in the oven.
  3. Have a healthy, hearty breakfast in the morning- Fasting all day before the big meal leads to binge eating. By starting your day with a healthy breakfast you set your blood sugar and energy levels up for a steady flow, which can ultimately help curb cravings. A healthy, hearty breakfast’s should contain foods high in fiber, loaded with fruits or vegetables, and of course protein. Some examples of a hearty healthy breakfast: oatmeal, fruits, nuts, and (hard-boiled) eggs, and vegetables (omelets with veggies in it)
  4. Serve / Snack on the Healthy Stuff- Instead of eating frozen, processed snacks, which are most likely high in sodium and have no nutritional value, focus on vegetables with healthy dips/ hummus for a healthier alternative.   Here are 22 different dip recipes!
  5. Remember the Healthy Plate Model- Starting with vegetables (broccoli, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, asparagus etc.) these should take up half your plate. Next is the lean protein, this of course is the turkey, which should take up a quarter of your plate (size of a deck of cards). The last quarter of your plate is reserved for fiber-rich carbohydrates (mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams or a roll). Learn more about MyPlate and Healthy Eating Styles!  
  6. Portions/ Picking your Favorites– Thinking about your portions will help prevent you from overindulging without causing you to feel as though you are missing out. Along with portion, it’s important to pick a favorite food item that you normally wouldn’t have. So although each pie looks amazing and you could have 2 slices of both pumpkin and pecan pie, you should pick a favorite, commit to one (and only one), and stick to a sensible portion of it.
  7. Be Mindful When Choosing Your Drinks- Drinking water is important to do every day, but it’s even more significant during the holidays. Did you know dehydration can lead to increased cravings, particularly for sugar? If you love soda, limit yourself to one soda with dinner. Soda is high in calories and sugar which should be saved for that slice of pumpkin pie!
  8. Is Egg Nog worth it?– Think before you drink this favorite, historical holiday beverage. One glass could have 360 calories and 60 grams of sugar 
  9. Have an Activity Plan- Set aside some time for exercise during the Holiday! Plan a walk, hike, or football game either before dinner or after dinner once everyone has digested! Another option is to sign up for a local turkey trot the morning of Thanksgiving and start your training for our upcoming Special Olympics Massachusetts road races that are happening in December. For upcoming Special Olympics Massachusetts races, visit Special Olympic Massachusetts website. Planning something concrete ahead of time will help you hold yourself and your family accountable.
  10. (Healthy) Recipe Alternative– Pick your favorite or even least favorite holiday dish and see if there is a healthier version or alternative to it.  Below is an example of a healthy side dish option. For more examples visit the Cooking Light Page

Maple-Caraway Brussels Sprouts


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 cups thinly vertically sliced onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

How to Make It

Step 1

  1. Heat 11/2 teaspoons butter, oil, thyme, and caraway in a large non- stick skillet over medium-low, swirl- ing until butter melts. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until butter starts to foam.

Step 2

  1. Increase heat to medium-high. Add Brussels sprouts to pan; cook 6 to 7 minutes or until browned and crisp-tender. Remove from pan. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 6 minutes. Return Brussels sprouts to pan. Stir in syrup, vinegar, mustard, and salt; cook 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter and pepper.

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