How to Do Thanksgiving the Healthy Way and Still Indulge

Thanksgiving, and the entire holiday season, is a time for family and friends to gather around the fireplace, look through old photos, catch up on new life events, and of course, eat. Food bonds us together in a way nothing else does. In many ways the holidays can be a time where all your hard work, to eat healthy, is thrown out the window. Mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, corn bread, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin pie, it’s all great until the morning after right? It doesn’t need to be this way! Let me explain the steps to a healthier, but still indulgent Thanksgiving meal:

  1. Fill your plate with greens and other vegetables first:

Whether its green beans or brussels sprouts it truly doesn’t matter! Any and all vegetables that are on the table should be the first thing on your plate. You will want to do this because these foods are nutrient rich, low in calories, and are relatively filling. You want to try to fill yourself up with the healthy options on the table before moving on to any of the indulgent foods. When you do indulge, you are just having a taste here and a taste there.

  1. Now it is time for your protein:

As a vegetarian, I skip the turkey on thanksgiving, but it is still important to have protein in each meal. Whether it is turkey or some type of meat substitute, it is time to eat your protein. Protein is the most filling part of most meals. By eating your protein second you are allowing your body the opportunity to warn you that you are getting full. This is helpful in ensuring that the rest of your meal continues to set the same healthy tone as the beginning of your meal.

  1. Eat your indulgent items next:

Once you have finished your serving of Turkey, It will finally be time to indulge. By this point in the meal, you will have an idea of what dishes are the party pleasers. You will also have an idea of what parts of the meal you just can’t take your eyes off of. You will then pick two of these types of dishes (such as mac n cheese and stuffing) to enjoy. The portion size for these indulgent foods will be half as much as your serving of vegetables from earlier. Typically, when it is not Thanksgiving, carbohydrates are actually supposed to be the largest component of your meals. However, in this case, with dessert right around the corner, you do want to go for portion control here.


  1. Last, but certainly not least it is dessert time:

You’ve made it through the family antics, uncomfortable political conversations, and lectures on religion. It is finally time for some much deserved dessert. We are looking to follow the same standard here. Start with the healthiest dessert on the table such as the fruit. Enjoy this with a cup of coffee. At this point, you can indulge again in a slither of pie or some cake, but just as I said before portion size is key!

In the end, Thanksgiving Day is a time kick back and do as you please. However, we work so hard every other day of the year to better ourselves and our bodies. We should not totally throw all of that work out the window. My point here is to learn how to stay healthy and not compromise your desires. If you have any questions you know where to find me!

Here are a few of my favorite vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes:

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