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Gobble Without the Wobble: 5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

Did you know that the average American consumes 4,500 calories  on Thanksgiving? That adds up to more than two days’ worth of food and an average of 1-2 pounds in weight gain. Now multiply that number by all the holiday meals you eat each year, and then do the math. Gulp.

Here’s the good news: it is possible to enjoy your holiday dinners without overindulging, and we’ll show you how. Here are some easy tips and tricks to help you gobble up your Thanksgiving feast favorites without all the guilt and extra calories. 

5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holiday Season

Whether you’re hosting the family for Thanksgiving dinner or heading home for the holidays, it can be daunting to make healthier choices when everyone else is indulging. But eating healthy during the holidays is doable! So, follow these five steps to leave your dinner table feeling satisfied, not stuffed.

Tip #1: Move Before You Munch

Your new mantra: eat less and exercise more. This healthy mindset will help you make good choices on Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season. Whether you challenge the family to some backyard football or head out for a quick walk, try incorporating some movement into the festivities.

Tip #2: Slow Down and Savor Your Favorite Feast Eats

Thanksgiving dinner is a marathon, not a sprint! Eat slowly to enjoy the meal and feel satisfied with one plate instead of two. Pro-tip to make this easier: drink a large glass of water before your meal!

Tip #3: Don’t Skip Breakfast

While you may feel tempted to save your calories for the big feast, experts say you can control your appetite better by eating a small meal in the morning.  Apple Peanut Butter Zoats, anyone?!

Tip #4: Police Your Portions

Don’t waste your calories on foods you can have any day. Instead, fill your plate with small portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year.  

Wondering what the recommended portion sizes are? Here’s a helpful guide: 

  • Turkey: the recommended protein portion is the size of a deck of cards
  • Stuffing: the size of a standard ice cream scoop
  • Cranberry Sauce: the size of a golf ball 
  •  Gravy: the size of a golf ball 
  • Potatoes: the size of half a tennis ball
  • Cornbread: the size of a personal bar of soap
  • Pie: the size of a light bulb

Tip #5: Cut Calories with These Recipe Ingredient Swaps

We’re not here to steer you away from pumpkin pie or mac ‘n cheese, but we are here to help you enjoy more of what you love this holiday season. With a little creativity, you can make all your favorites a little healthier. Here are some simple ingredient swaps to help cut calories:

  • Butter, Shortening, Oil: applesauce, pureed fig or prunes, mashed avocado, canned pumpkin, banana
  • Cream Soups: mashed potato flakes, pureed cauliflower, pureed silken tofu
  • Sugar: cinnamon, honey, applesauce, vanilla
  • Heavy Whipping Cream: evaporated milk
  • Chocolate chips: cacao nibs, Carob nibs
  • Sour Cream: plain Greek yogurt
  • White flour: black bean puree, whole wheat flour, almond or coconut flour
  • Cream Cheese: pureed cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, or whipped cream cheese
  • Eggs: Flax meal, chia seeds
  • Ground meat: finely chopped mushrooms

Bringing it Together: Healthy Holiday Eating is All About Balance

Remember, a balanced plate contains the correct portion sizes for a healthy meal. Eating a healthy breakfast before your big feast, drinking plenty of water, and getting some exercise in before your meal can go a long way toward helping you reach your goals. So, go ahead and enjoy every bite of this delicious season. Now you know how to gobble without the wobble. Bon Appetit!


The content on this page is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be relied on as medical advice. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, evaluation, or treatment of a qualified health-care provider. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition, or if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You should consult a qualified health professional regarding health conditions or concerns, and before starting a new diet or health program. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate. If you have or suspect you may have allergies or medical issues which may be affected by certain foods, find you may have or be experiencing side effects, you should promptly contact your health care provider. Statements within this article have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration.