Feast on food, or feast on friendship? Tips for a happy, smart Thanksgiving

Hey everyone!!

One more day until Thanksgiving!!

I’ll be running a half marathon tomorrow…so wish me luck!

So, back in my out-of-control years, food was always on my mind!! Especially when I knew a holiday feast was coming up. I would fixate on how determined I was to avoid certain ‘temptations’. I would think about what foods I would want to eat, but must avoid…and then when I finally came up against those foods, I would always cave in and eat way more than I would have if I had not made such a big deal about it. It was an annoying cycle.

The reality is that Thanksgiving is a HUGE stressor for people wanting to change their health habits, and especially those focusing on losing weight! It really can be a scary, stressful day.

Did you know the average weight gain over the Holiday season is 6-8 pounds? Crazy right? Let’s avoid that.

THIS HELPS SO MUCH!! Here are a few pointers to help you make it through Thanksgiving’s (and any holiday’s) grand feast:

Focus on the FRIENDSHIP, not the food

What’s the whole reason the food will be there in the first place? So we can gather together. The most important part of life, to me, is relationships. Make the most of social gatherings by getting to know family and friends better. Let them know you love them and why you are grateful for them. Work on your converstation skills. Come prepared with awesome topics to discuss to make the conversation more interesting than the food!

Don’t ever decline a social gathering because there will be food. Remember, it’s not juuust about the food (OK honestly, sometimes it is haha). It’s about the friendships created…which so happens to be around food most of the time. Food is a nice way to avoid feeling awkward, since it gives out hands something to do.

Exercise before you mingle

You know that clean feeling you get after a light workout? Exercising kicks our body and mind into, “I’m a healthy and super awesome person” mode. You’ll want that when you are surrounded by unhealthy choices!

Have support

Let your close friends or family know that you are trying to eat healthy, and to please not tempt you into eating what you don’t want to eat.

Don’t go hungry

Eat a healthy snack right before you leave to Thanksgiving dinner. That will avoid binge eating as well as help you stay in control.

Eye ball what amount is a proper serving

You wouldn’t put 5 coookies on your plate at a time, because it just seems like too much. What happens is we eat one at a time, and don’t realize we’ve suddenly eaten five! Put the proper serving size on your plate and stick to it–especially when it comes to mashed potatoes, roles, casseroles and desserts!

Use a small plate

Smaller portions look bigger on a small plate.

Fill up most of your plate with veggies

Get full on the healthy stuff!! You can have the other stuff, but you might as well enjoy the taste of unhealthy food in small quantities and still be satisfied from the healthy options.

Drink 1 cup of water before you eat anything

We often eat because we are thirsty. Make sure you eat out of real hunger, not thirst!

Swallow in between each bite

Put your fork down between each bite

Drink water in between each bite

The above three will help you slow down and actually enjoy the taste of the food! Notice the textures, the different seasonings. Try to guess what the ingredients are! It never feels good to stuff your face.

Eat mindfully

You will most likely be caught up in conversation–but try to remember to stop and feel your fullness. Ask yourself–on a scale of 1-10, how full am I? Do I need to keep eating to be satisfied?

Decide if you will be happier if you are painfully full, or if you are pleasantly satisfied

Do you enjoy stomach pain? Do you enjoy bloating? What are the benefits from over eating? Can you think of any? Any to make it worth it for you?

It’s your choice

Never say, “I can’t have that, I’m on a diet.” Rather, liberate yourself, take accountability and say, “I choose not to have that,” or, “I don’t want that…I don’t think it will make me feel well.”

Don’t deny yourself if you really really want it

You will most likely binge eat later on if you are screaming inside for that piece of whatever. Let yourself enjoy it, and reaaaaally enjoy it! Smile about it!

Three bite rule

The first bite is always the most exciting, shocker to your taste buds. By the third bite you’re used to it and the level of enjoyment has leveled out.

Smelling it can do the trick

Weird one, but it works for me! Sometimes I would drink water as I smelled what I wanted…but didn’t want to eat. It made it feel like I was having it! You may want to choose your audience wisely for this one 😉

Don’t drink your calories

Stick to water. It’s earth’s magical liquid.

Sit away from seconds

Be strategic in where you sit. Make it inconvenient to eat seconds. Move that basket of rolls out of reach. Let whoever you are sitting by know your trick so they can help. Your end of the table will be able to eat more mindfully, you can bet on that!

Good luck and enjoy this year’s Thanksgiving!!! There is so much to be grateful for!!


Do you get nervous about big dinner parties?

Do you ever skip out on parties because there’s food you can’t eat?

What are YOUR strategies for eating well in a sea of unhealthy food options?

What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year? Going anywhere awesome??

23 thoughts on “Feast on food, or feast on friendship? Tips for a happy, smart Thanksgiving

  1. Such AWESOME tips! Really! I’m not trying to lose weight, so I’m good, but this is wonderful tips for those who are. Also, I have never gained weight at the holidays no matter what I eat because I’m always so stressed out over everything, that I end up losing usually, lol! I’m always so busy prepping and cooking and cleaning, that it’s exercise.
    Happy thanksgiving girl!!
    The vegan 8 recently posted…Caramel Crusted Pumpkin Loaf with 2 Minute Caramel Spice GlazeMy Profile

  2. I think these are all really great tips! Especially focusing on the friendships rather than the food. But let’s be honest, Thanksgiving is known for the food, so I always enjoy it. It’s just one day a year, so I let myself go a little crazier than usual : ) Hope you have a good Thanksgiving!!
    Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie recently posted…Beyond ThankfulMy Profile

  3. I definitely agree–get everything your need emotionally from the people around you, not the foods in front of you–on Thanksgiving as well as the other days of the year. Savor your bites, savor your friends, your family. This is a holiday about enjoying the best that life has to offer us, but that means making room for all of it, not just the food!
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Holiday Cranberry Cupcake Recipe + Apple Cranberry RelishMy Profile

  4. Hopefully I’ll get to see you tomorrow at the half marathon! I’m so excited to run on the holiday, I can’t think of a better way to start the day!

  5. Great post! I’m going to have a protein only, very light breakfast, and no lunch. It won’t make me ravenous….but will allow me an extra hundred or two calories. I plan to keep my food from touching on the plate; that ought to do the trick! And I’ll definitely exercise in the morning before we head out.

    Have a beautiful holiday, sweet girl!
    Gwen recently posted…A Thanksgiving ChallengeMy Profile

  6. I love your approach towards health and fitness; it’s kind and forgiving but it also sets firm boundaries–it’s hard to find people like you anymore, kirtley! Truthfull, I enjoy tour posts like these more than anyone else’s.

    I love these three new ones: the 3 bite rule, smelling the food, deciding that I do not enjoy haveing a bloated stomach and feeling the bad effects after eating junk food, and plating everything on my plate and not going back for “one more” because they add up sneakily! One thing I’m trying desperately hard to work on is mindful eating, which is swallowing before I take my next bite, stopping and talking to friends and then take smaller bites. When i eat, I eat like a vaccum, usually because I’m stressed(not hungry) and rushed!

    Say, would you be interested in coordinating a January kickstart resolution challenge with me focusing and mindfulness and fitness? Let me know somehow, and happy thanksgiving! 🙂
    Linda @ Fit Fed and Happy recently posted…Updates In a Flash + Turbot Ginger Fish! {WIAW #10}My Profile

  7. Pingback: How to conquer the holiday’s chocolate-on-the-counter | The Gist of Fit

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