Yes, you can survive Thanksgiving dinner on a diet.
Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be an all-out food fest or an excuse to kick your diet to the curb. I will share 9 simple tips to help you survive turkey day without blowing your healthy eating plan. These tips are inspired by Autumn Calabrese, Beachbody celebrity trainer and creator of the 21 Day Fix.
A typical Thanksgiving.
Do you recognize this typical scenario?
You approach Thanksgiving with the best of intentions. You fill your plate with veggies and salad (no dressing, thank you very much), a bite-sized piece of turkey, and exactly one small scoop of stuffing.
Maybe a teeny tiny portion of mashed potatoes, just because your hubby makes the best roasted garlic mashed potatoes ever. And just a dab of gravy…
Three slices of pie (with whipped cream), two glasses of wine, and a whole heap of regret later, you have to discreetly open the top button of your skinny jeans because you can no longer breathe.
Better yet, you change into yoga pants and a big ‘ol sweater to give your tummy room to digest all the Thanksgiving goodies.
Can you relate?
This year let’s approach Thanksgiving with a plan.
According to Autumn, some common Thanksgiving pitfalls are:
- We fill our plates with too much protein, tons of carbs and lots of oil/fat. Thinking in 21 Day Fix container terms, there is an excess of YELLOW, BLUE, ORANGE and TEASPOONS.
- We eat mindlessly (also endlessly).
- We think nothing of going back for seconds. Sometimes thirds.
- We don’t pay attention to portion sizes.
What to do?
Autumn’s Tips to Tackle Turkey Day.
1. Know proper portion sizes.
If you follow the 21 Day Fix eating plan, be familiar with your container sizes. If you don’t use them on a regular basis, practice the week before Thanksgiving.
If you follow another eating plan, just familiarize yourself with what proper portions are. Precision Nutrition has a helpful guide using your hand as a measuring tool.
2. Fill your plate with veggies and salad FIRST, so there is less room for high calorie side dishes.
3. Budget for those extra carbs.
For Fixers, skip a YELLOW and PURLE container the day before and the day after Thanksgiving to account for extra carbs.
All others, go light on the carbs/fruit the day before and after.
4. Make smart food swaps.
Autumn says she likes cranberry sauce on her turkey, and can do without the gravy. If you love stuffing, maybe you don’t need mashed potatoes too.
I love Autumn, but I think her list could be a little more comprehensive. So here are some of the strategies I’ll be using too…
Jacqui’s bonus tips:
5. Only choose foods you love.
This is similar to Tip #4, but I don’t make 1-for-1 swaps. I just fill my plate with foods I love. I can easily skip stuffing, but I eat turkey, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy probably once a year. All three will be on my plate.
6. For dessert or other decadent treats, try following the 3 Bite Rule.
Read all about the 3 Bite Rule here. Or, just enjoy a small piece of pumpkin pie.
7. Give your favorite Thanksgiving recipe a healthy makeover.
8. Eat light the rest of the day.
I personally skip breakfast (I do drink my coffee!) to save calories for the feast. We eat our Thanksgiving meal at lunchtime. For dinner I’ll have leftovers – but in Fix-approved portions.
9. Make sure to exercise!
Try something fun like walking a Thanksgiving 5k with your family, take a hike after dinner, or just pop in your favorite workout DVD. The 21 Day Fix anyone?
Thanksgiving Plate Comparison
A typical meal.
The plate on the left is a typical Thanksgiving plate, loaded with carbs and fat. It has turkey, gravy, and big ‘ol helpings of stuffing, sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce. Served with a hefty serving of wine.
In 21 Day Fix Containers this would probably equal:
- 2 RED (turkey),
- 5 YELLOW (2 for wine, 2 for stuffing, 1 for potatoes)
- 1 PURPLE (cranberries)
- plus several TEASPOONS to account for gravy, fats & oils.
Autumn’s Fix-Approved Plate
Autumn chose salad, green beans, turkey, and tiny portions of stuffing and sweet potatoes.
She counted the containers as:
- 1 RED (turkey),
- 2 YELLOW (1 for wine, 1 for stuffing + potatoes + cranberries)
- 2 GREEN (salad + green beans)
Note: She mentioned the green beans had almonds and oil, but in her calculations did not account for those containers.
Want to see Autumn break it down for you? Check out this video:
Here are some helpful links for a healthy Thanksgiving:
- 21 Day Fix approved Thanksgiving recipes
- 21 Day Fix workout program and containers
- Fixate cookbook
- The 3 Bite Rule
- Pinterest boards with healthy recipes
What is your strategy for Thanksgiving?