7 Thanksgiving Nutrition Rules to Avoid Overeating

7 thanksgiving nutrition rules to avoid overeating

Thanksgiving, a day that brings family and friends together, is also the biggest day for caloric consumption. A few pieces of protein-rich turkey is not (or shouldn’t be) a problem, but it turns to be one for many of us (read: side dishes and desserts).

Every year, overeating becomes the biggest issue and Thanksgiving becomes the food-heavy day.

Thanksgiving is also the most anticipated culinary day of the year, and, as always, there are many decisions we need to make on the food we are going to prepare.

This brings us to two biggest concerns or challenges:
How to eat healthy and not overeat?
How to make a perfect meal?

Knowing how to pace yourself to eat properly is a challenge many faces every day. However, a growing number of people turn Thanksgiving into a food holiday.


How to stay on track during Thanksgiving?

An average person consumes around 1,800-2,000 calories per day, on Thanksgiving, we consume anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 calories (an average Thanksgiving meal).

thanksgiving nutrition rules - how to stay on track during thanksgiving

The good news is that the number of burned calories on holiday increased 46 percent (between 2011 and 2013, and walking a dog is one of the top Thanksgiving exercises in 2013), and Thanksgiving is becoming one of the biggest workout days of the year (marathons, themed workouts).

In 2013, according to RunningUSA, 870,000 people participated in races. We are becoming more aware of the importance of enjoying a holiday while keeping up with healthy habits.


What more can we do to escape overeating?


1. Count calories

The popularity of fitness Android or iOS applications is evident today. They are designed to help us track our health and exercising habits.

This Thanksgiving might be an excellent option to try to find your perfect match and chose an app that will help balance and keep track of your eating habits for your optimal health.


2. Eat breakfast

According to Caloric Control Council, an average person will consume 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving. Why? The answer lies in all-day snacking in front of the TV.

It’s a mistake to think that skipping breakfast will help control overeating; on the contrary, if you skip breakfast, you’ll be sufficiently hungry until the turkey is ready. The result? It’s a high probability that you will overeat.

eat breakfast - thanksgiving nutrition rules

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Opt for a healthy breakfast that will keep you energized. If the turkey isn’t ready by mid-afternoon or even later, it’s a good option to have a light lunch.


3. Control portions

First, no one has to try all desserts and side dishes, even if the host is pushing you to eat. However, if one wishes to, the best option is to try to limit your portions. Instead of what you would normally take, take half of it.

If you, however, are the host, and you have already decided to prepare many desserts and side dishes, it might be interesting to think about the color of the plates.  If the color matches the food, we eat more. An excellent strategy to enjoy Thanksgiving would be to choose one dessert.


4. Eat slower

It takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to receive information from your stomach, so eat slowly. Many studies have shown that we eat more when we are distracted, so another good tactic would be to remove distractions.


5. Per-portion your food

Sometimes it seems impossible to track how much you eat mostly because we often eat directly from the bag or boxes. This is the easiest way to overeat. But, this doesn’t only consider snacks, you can use this tactic to pre-portion regular meals as well. Put your food on the plate and be aware of how much food you actually need.


6. Know your weakness

We all have food weaknesses, the food we enjoy eating so much we can’t say no to it. The first thing to do to balance your eating habits is to recognize the food you can’t resist. You can, for instance, make a list of the food you can’t stop eating and try to avoid it.


7. Pack the food

The reason many gain weight during Thanksgiving is probably because they continue eating pies, desserts, mashed potato and other food for another three days. For those who are guests, this isn’t a problem. However, for hosts, there is always enough food left. Pack your food into plastic containers and give it to your guests.

Another way to have a healthy holiday and avoid weight gain is to opt for healthy food alternatives.

For those who are having a habit of doing things at the last minute, they should consider what food and where they are going to buy it.


 What food should you skip?



Chemically treated turkeys should not be your choice. Proper cooking can kill most germs and bacteria; however, to decrease your risk of buying a non-organic turkey, opt to shop from a local farmer who doesn’t use antibiotic drugs.

If you are buying the turkey in the supermarket, go organic. Another problem is “flavor-enhanced” turkey, especially for people who are trying to cut back on sodium. “Non-enhanced” turkeys contain between 55 and 65 milligrams of sodium.



Domestic chemically grown cranberries pose a significant pesticide-exposure risk (if not the greatest). They contain 13 different residues of pesticides that are known to cause hormone disruption, neurological problems and cancer as Organic Center shows. It is easier to find organic cranberries in a grocery store; however, you can always choose some healthy alternatives.

cranberries pose a significant pesticide-exposure risk - nutrition rules


Canned food

Canned cranberry jelly, vegetables, or canned pumpkin pie filling are loaded with bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone-like chemical used in many products that is linked with heart disease, sperm damage, brain cancer, obesity and other health problems.

What is the solution? It’s very simple: avoid canned products, and cook with fresh ingredients. You shouldn’t choose between canned cranberry jelly and fresh cranberry sauce.

Do you have more suggestions?

What is your advice on how to avoid packing on pounds during the holidays?

Image by DepositPhotos.com

Last article update: 11/18/2019