How to Stay Healthy this Thanksgiving

Co-written by nutrition student Maddie Metzger.

One of the greatest times of the year is upon us: the holidays! For some, this is a delightful, exciting time filled with family, friends, beautiful fall landscapes and of course food. However, the holidays can also be a source of stress for many. Whether you are Thanksgiving’s biggest fan or perhaps need some extra self-care this season, we have the tips for you to have the happiest, healthiest Thanksgiving yet.


When we think of Thanksgiving most of us immediately think of the meal. The average American will consume 4,500 calories on this day of thanks1; that is more than 2x the average, recommended daily amount for an adult. Fear not, below are pointers for you to keep in mind to avoid this tempting over-consumption.

  • Do not skip the most important meal of the day!

    Start your day correctly with breakfast. Fasting in the beginning of the day is not great for your metabolism and will lead to overconsumption when the turkey arrives. Also, starting your day with a healthy, filling breakfast will allow you to control yourself when it comes time to eat dinner.

  • It’s a mental game.

    I personally have justified some gluttonous habits on Thanksgiving with the mind set that “it’s Thanksgiving, you only get this once a year.” However once a year happens a lot more often than you would think. Thanksgiving comes after Halloween, between Christmas and right before folks hunker down for a long New England winter. For now, have just one serving. It will be even better the next time.

  • Water, water, water!

    Hydration is key on Thanksgiving for multiple reasons. As you will most likely be drinking alcohol throughout the day/evening, it is important to drink water to keep yourself hydrated. Also, drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink is a smart method to avoid drinking too much. A healthy dose of water with a meal also can help you to take more time to let your body digest and notify you that you are full.

  • Watch out for liquid calories.

    Thanksgiving typically includes a great deal of alcohol because it is a social holiday in nature. Make sure to keep a mindful watch on how much you are drinking. (See: “Water, water, water!”)

  • It is a marathon, not a sprint!

    Chew slowly. Take time to enjoy the delicious meal you are eating. Sometimes we can get excited by our big, beautiful plates and pile food into our mouths as quickly as possible. Remember: it takes 15 minutes from the first bite until you feel it in your belly. If you take your time to eat slowly, you are less likely to over-eat because you will detect how full you are sooner.

  • Eat the pie (in moderation)!

    Do not offend your grandmother by refusing her famous pumpkin pie. Be kind to yourself and to her by taking a small piece and only allowing yourself one serving. You deserve it.

  • If you are cooking the meal, we have some tips for you too!

    Avoid the seemingly innocent spoonfuls of mashed potatoes. They may add up more quickly than you think. The average ½ cup serving of mashed potatoes is almost 120 calories2! Keep out a veggie crudité plate or fruit platter to snack on while you are cooking. Avoid having pie for breakfast and Thanksgiving sandwiches for lunch for the next two weeks by giving a parting gift to your guests: leftovers!


Depending on where you are spending the holiday, these tips may be easier said than done. However, you never know until you try! Get creative and have fun with your workouts this holiday season. If your town offers a turkey trot, give it a shot! You can always walk. Here are some extra tips on how to stay active this Thanksgiving.

  • Get outside!

    Fall weather is beautiful! Get outside and enjoy it. Suggest a family hike or walk, throw the football around in the yard. Get creative.

  • Fit Family!

    Depending on how willing and able your family members are, suggest a family workout! The females in my family always do a group workout class together when we are together for the holidays. It is such a fun way for us to spend family time together and get fit.

  • Run and explore!

    Whether you are in your childhood hometown, a new town, or right here in the city, go on a run and explore!

While keeping all of these health tips in mind, it is also important for you to take care of your mental health during the holiday season. Make sure to take any time you need to ensure you have the happiest, healthiest holiday. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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