Tips For Eating Thanksgiving Dinner When You’re Dieting

how to do thanksgiving dinner on a diet
(Last Updated On: October 22, 2019)

The idea of having a large feast while you’re on a diet seems counter-intuitive, but it’s something that most of us have to deal with at least once a year.

You guessed it.

We’re talking about being on a diet during Thanksgiving. How can you enjoy a holiday dedicated to overeating when you’re trying so hard to watch your calorie intake?

It might be easier than you imagined.

You might be wondering if you should just avoid the feast altogether. After all, that does seem like the best way to avoid excessive calories.

But what if you really enjoy the feast? Many people look forward to eating a huge meal with family and friends.

You don’t want to be the only one who didn’t show up this year. Here are a few tips you can follow to enjoy Thanksgiving even when you’re on a diet.

1. Know What Foods Are Healthy

A Thanksgiving Turkey in the oven

It’s a common misconception that Thanksgiving is full of unhealthy foods packed with empty calories.

A few pies and cakes aside, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of the staple dishes prepared during the holiday are packed with healthy nutrients, minerals, and amino acids.

Whether it’s eggs, beans, or turkey itself; there are often many healthy foods at the table on Thanksgiving.

You just have to make an effort to find them.

You’re always advised to learn the nutritional info of a particular food before purchasing. If you’ve been dieting for a while, then you may already be familiar with this process.

For example, you should be checking the labels on every food item you purchase at the store. You shouldn’t throw this rule to the wind just because it’s Thanksgiving.

You probably won’t have access to the labels when you’re preparing to eat, but you will likely have access to your smartphone. Use the internet to find nutritional information about a few of the dishes you see at the table.

You can then use that information to piece together a healthy meal that includes all of the carbs, fats, and nutrients that you need.

2. Bring A Few Healthy Dishes

An example of a healthy thanksgiving meal

People are often encouraged to bring a dish with them when attending a Thanksgiving dinner. Bringing two might even be a better idea.

Use this an opportunity to guarantee that there are a couple of healthy meal options you really enjoy.

This way, when it’s time to make your plate, you know that there are at least one or two items that fit within your diet.

It’s a good idea to choose dishes that you can really overindulge on, such as leafy green vegetables. This will allow you to load up your plate without overloading on your calories. You’ll still look like a normal person who is enjoying a big plate of food on Thanksgiving.

Otherwise, people might ask why you’re holding back on a day that’s dedicated to eating as much as possible.

Your health dish won’t just benefit you either. Everyone else who loads up their plate with some of your food will be a little healthier because of it. There might even be some others at the table who are on a diet and thank you for your contribution.

3. Watch the Booze

cut back on the booze if you want to keep your diet on track around the holidays

Whether it’s alcohol or soda, the amount that people drink during their Thanksgiving feast often adds as many calories as their plate does.

Not having a plate would definitely be out of place, but there’s nothing wrong with turning down multiple drinks.

As a matter of fact, if you stick to drinking water, then you won’t feel nearly as bad if you have a second plate.

Keep in mind that alcohol slows down the body’s ability to burn fat. The last thing you want to do on a diet is drink alcohol and overeat at the same time. Luckily, Thanksgiving is more about enjoying the food than excessive drinking, but if you do want to have a drink or two, here’s a good list of low-cal options.

Nobody will question your decision to limit yourself to only a single beer or glass of wine.

4. Make Your Own Plate

thanksgiving dinner is served

Tell grandma that you’ll handle making your own plate this year. The only way to have complete control over your portions is to make your own plate.

This means that you can add smaller portions of the unhealthy items and larger portions of the smart food choices. All while still loading your plate full of delicious food.

This applies to dessert as well. You’ll probably have several pie selections available. Make your own plate so that you can choose the right size slice. You can also remove the crust to save yourself a few unnecessary calories.

Sooner or later, your body is going to tell you when you’ve had enough. Don’t push yourself past this point. Even if someone is encouraging you to return for another plate.

You’re guaranteed to have much better memories of your Thanksgiving meal if you don’t eat until you’re uncomfortable.

5. Throw Caution To The Wind

The great thing about going on a diet is that if you stick to it every other day, then one day spent overindulging isn’t going to hurt you.

As a matter of fact, you can throw caution to the window and eat without any remorse on Thanksgiving as long as you’re making healthy choices every other day. You’ll reach your limit long before one feast can do any serious damage.

6. Cheat Day Anyone?

the new weight watchers programs

Not all diets have cheat days built in, but if they do, this is a great day to use yours! This way, you can kick back, and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner without any guilt, knowing you’ll be back on track by the time Black Friday rolls around.

There are a lot of diets that have cheat day options, with Weight Watchers Digital probably being my favorite. With the new WW program you can save your points, so say you eat light on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, you will have extra points when the big day rolls around, and you can really dig in!

Either way, this is just one option available, and it’s worth exploring if you’re looking for a stress-free dieting option on Thanksgiving.

Final Thoughts

Following a healthy diet doesn’t require living every day according to harsh restrictions. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself on occasion and forgetting about your diet completely.

Those who push themselves too hard often grow tired of their diet faster and eventually give up. It’s much better to overindulge one day than to give up on your diet completely because it’s too strict.

If you feel too bad about your choice to overindulge on Thanksgiving, then spend an extra hour at the gym the next time you visit and your conscience will thank you.

Thanksgiving is all about enjoying time with friends and family. Don’t let your desire to lose a few pounds ruin that experience.


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