By Katie Rosenbrock

As a day that revolves mostly around food (and that falls in the center of a food-filled holiday season), it’s only natural that you might feel stressed about overeating or gaining weight on Thanksgiving.

Especially if you have weight loss goals or are simply working toward establishing healthier eating habits, instead of an enjoyable day spending time with friends and family, Thanksgiving might feel like more of a battle than anything else.

It doesn't have to feel that way, though. First of all, even if you do end up eating a little bit too much (we’ve all been there before), it’s highly unlikely that one day of overeating can lead to weight gain.

As New York Times Well Blog author Tara Parker-Pope explained in an investigation two years ago, you'd have to eat an almost impossible amount of food to consume more than 4,500 calories, which according to the Calorie Control Council is the (likely overestimated) average amount of calories an American eats on Thanksgiving.

More From The Active Times:
Fitness Fuel: 9 Swaps That Will Make Your Already Healthy Meals Even Better

Plus, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that, on average, most people only gain about one pound over the entire course of the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year's Day).

So contrary to what the diet industry might have you believe, there's no reason to go bonkers stressing over weight gain during the holidays, and especially not over what you eat on one single day.

Of course, no matter how many pieces of grandma's epic apple pie you really want to eat, your health is still important to you and just like everyone else, you definitely don't enjoy feeling bloated and stuffed to the brim.

Fortunately, it’s possible to avoid all of that and have a healthy Thanksgiving without feeling deprived; it’s a matter of enjoying yourself without overdoing it.

I know what you're thinking, "That’s so much easier said than done." Right?

True. But with the help of certified health coach, nutritionist and personal trainer Justine San Filippo, we've rounded up some simple tips that you can use to make sure you'll enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving foods without going overboard. Continue reading to find out her expert tips.

Healthier (But Still Enjoyable) Thanksgiving


Drink lots of water

"Thanksgiving dinner is typically high in sodium," explains SanFilippo. "So drink 8 glasses of water (or more) to reduce the excess water weight and bloat."


Don't overdo it with drinks

Drink all the water you want, but SanFilippo recommends consuming beverages like wine, beer and liquor in moderation. "Excess alcohol adds empty calories and lowers inhibitions," she says. "Save those calories for your favorite slice of pumpkin pie instead."


Eggnog probably isn't worth it

Unless it's your absolute favorite holiday treat, SanFilippo suggests skipping out on Eggnog. "Eggnog is extremely high in calories," she explains. "One cup could have 360 calories and 60 grams of sugar." This is one decedent dessert that she recommends avoiding all together, unless you'd rather swap it in for a different sweet treat.


Pay attention to portions.

"Even though your grandma's pumpkin pie looks amazing and you could eat about three slices, you'll regret it the next morning," says SanFillipo. "Instead, enjoy a sensible portion or just take a few bites of your favorite foods." This strategy will prevent you from overindulging without causing you to feel deprived or like you're missing out.


Prepare bigger portions of 'good' foods.

Leftovers are arguably one of the best things about Thanksgiving; tons of delicious food to eat for days to come. However, SanFilippo says it's a smart idea to make bigger portions of the healthier dishes (think veggies and lean protein) so that when you open your fridge and reach for leftovers you’ll have more nutritious options to choose from.


Freeze extra leftovers.

"Avoid feeling the need to eat all the leftovers in a few days before they go bad by freezing some of them," SanFilippo said. As an added bonus, your fridge won't be stocked to the brim.


Enjoy time with your friends and family.

"The purpose of the holiday is to relax, have fun and spend time with those you care about," SanFilippo reminds us. "The food is important, but not nearly as important as being thankful."

previous next

For the complete list of Tips For A Healthier (But Still Enjoyable) Thanksgiving, go to

More From The Active Times:
-- 8 Tips for Eating Healthy on Campus from a Top Nutritionist
-- The Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
-- The Health Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep