Bring Back Health to Holiday Meals | Keep it Healthy this Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 21 2021 12:17 PM
By Ellen Healy

healthy Thanksgiving dinner and mealWith all the Friendsgivings, holiday get-togethers, office parties, and the extra sweet treats baked back at home, it can be hard to make it through the holiday season without adding 200-300 calories a day to your diet. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we have some holiday health advice to help you stay on track and meet your fitness goals!

Use the following good-to-know, keep-me-strong kind of health tips to help you lean out some of the most popular and beloved Thanksgiving staples.

It's time to bring back health to holiday meals!

Tips to Health-Up Your Holiday Favorites | Stay on Track This Thanksgiving!


When it comes to turkey, choose turkey breast without the skin to avoid adding extra saturated fat to your diet. Another way to lean out this protein is to use only olive oil spray, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs to season the outside, rather than using a ton of butter or oil.


healthy wild rice stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving dinnerInstead of bread, stuff your turkey with fresh vegetables, herbs, and apples. The usual/more popular breaded stuffing recipe is baked inside the turkey cavity, which allows the bread to absorb a lot of the fat that drips - yes, that delicious, not-so-good-for-you kind of goodness. Choosing vegetables instead to stuff the old bird will help you avoid all that bread that's been soaking in fat.

If that breaded stuffing is "a must" in your household, though, just cook it in a separate dish and try to avoid recipes that use sausage or bacon. Choose non-refined starches like wild rice, quinoa, or other whole grains instead of white bread that is often low in fiber and high in refined sugar.

Mashed Potatoes:

Try making your mashed potatoes a bit differently this year. Instead of butter and cream, avoid the fat by using some of the water you used to boil the potatoes in. The starchy water will help you get that same creamy texture without all the fat. For flavor, choose fat-free sour cream, low-sodium chicken broth, or skim milk instead of whole milk.

Want to be the real all-star of health on Thanksgiving? Skip the mashed potatoes altogether! Instead, choose turnips or cauliflower to mash - all low-carb options. And who knows! With enough rosemary, roasted garlic, and a touch of skim milk or nonfat Greek yogurt, you might just like the taste, dare we say, better?

Check out this awesome mashed cauliflower recipe that might become a new holiday favorite for you and your family!


When it comes to gravy, baby, skip the turkey drippings and use vegetable oil instead. Yes, vegetable oil is still a fat, but it's less in saturated fat and cholesterol-free! When you refrigerate the leftover gravy, the fat will float to the top and harden as it cools. Once the fat solidifies, scrape it off and then reheat before serving.

Green Bean Casserole:

Green bean casserole may sound healthy with a vegetable in its title, but the traditional recipe is packed with high amounts of sodium and fat. If you're going to make it, just make it healthy and use fresh green beans instead of canned and use a cream of mushroom that is both low in fat AND sodium. Ditch the fried onions and top with thinly sliced onion instead.

Healthy and vegan green bean casserole, anyone? Check out this recipe that's better for your health and tastes amazing. 

Desserts and Sweets:

It's Thanksgiving! It's okay to have a little dessert. Just don't go overboard and make smart decisions/alterations to your favorite recipes.

baking holiday sweets with grandma

When baking your favorite sweets and treats, substitute two egg whites for one whole egg and replace heavy cream and butter with evaporated skim milk. When you indulge in those holiday faves, just try to keep it small and remember your fitness goals. If you want extra brownie points - sans the "brownie" - skip the traditional dessert and opt for something different and much healthier for you, like low-fat, high-fiber, naturally-sweetened sweet potatoes. Top with a little honey and cinnamon, and call it a day.

Need more help when it comes to healthy alternatives to sugar? Read the following blog! We've also included a healthy Christmas cookie recipe below. You're welcome.

Sugar Swaps | Healthy Alternatives to Sugar
Healthy Christmas Cookies | Grain & Gluten-Free Recipe



Want more tips to keep you strong as you ride the holiday temptation train? Read on for more!


1. Be mindful of portions

There is no need to overload your plate. Fear not! "Leftovers" are a thing, and you will get a second date with your holiday favorites. When you do create your Thanksgiving plate, just be mindful of your portions. Know when too much is too much. A little trick? Put a tiny amount of each dish you want most on your plate. This way, you still get to taste everything you want, but you won't go overboard or have too much. You'll also have to reserve yourself if you want more, which might make you stop and think about whether or not you really need seconds or just want them.

2. Don't come hungry!

Try eating a salad before heading to the family gathering to help curb your appetite. It's way too easy to eat it all when it's right in front of you, and you're starving—snacking on some veggies before the meal might help you steer clear of stuffing your face at a record pace.

3. Seek support and find accountability

If you need some extra help, sit next to a fellow healthy eater or someone who typically eats slower than you to help pace your meal. If you have a friend or family member who is also trying to be mindful of their eating and health, talk to them before and keep each other accountable.

Read More Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain, Here!


You can do this!holiday family cooking thanksgiving dinner

The year 2021 is one to remember, that's for sure. But even with all its ups and downs, there's still so much to be thankful for! Although it might be tempting to give in and throw up your hands, saying, "this year was tough enough! I deserve all the sweets." Don't lose sight of your fitness goals! Meet them instead, and be grateful that we made it through this crazy year together.

We have every faith in YOU! Happy Thanksgiving! 







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