Top 5 Turkey Day Dieting Strategies

The average Thanksgiving meal racks up over 2000 calories and can easily top 3000, which equates to almost a pound of body fat.  This huge caloric load can really derail your diet and make getting on the scale the Monday after Thanksgiving a depressing experience.  But with a little effort, treat yourself to a wonderful Thanksgiving day meal without having to squeeze into your favorite pants on Monday!


  1. Plan ahead to ensure extra healthy eating before the big day.  Bring healthy snacks such as fruit, string cheese, baby carrots, single serving size bags of nuts, and lower sugar protein bars on the airplane or in the car en route to your Thanksgiving celebration so you won’t be tempted by fast food or high calorie airport snack foods.
  2. On Thanksgiving day, DON’T starve yourself all day to “bank” calories for dinner.   Try to focus on a 2-4 smaller protein based, low fat, lower carbohydrate meals so you aren’t famished by the time you sit down to the table but you have “saved” most of your fat and carbs for dinner.  Try starting the day with an egg white omelette with veggies, have an apple and string cheese or yogurt as a snack, and opt for a salad with ½-1 can tuna with light dressing for lunch. 
  3. Before dinner, stay away (entirely) from the higher calorie finger foods that you can eat any time like nuts, chips, crackers, olives, and cheese.  Save your extra calories for you Aunt’s sweet potatoes or your favorite dessert!  And minimize the high calorie beverages like juice, regular soda, and sugar laden alcoholic drinks.  Stick with water, diet drinks, ice tea, wine, beer, and non-sugary drink mixers.
  4. Build exercise into your day wherever you can.  Go for a walk before or after dinner.  Sign up for you local “Turkey Trot” event.   Take the family bowling in the evening.  Organize a family dance contest with music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s so everyone gets involved!   Every extra calorie burned adds up!
  5. Follow these 5 strategies to save up to 1000 calories or more at Thanksgiving dinner (that’s about 1/3 of a pound of fat)
    1. Opt for pumpkin pie over pecan:  save 200 calories (skip the ice cream or whipped cream and save an addition 50-200 calories)
    2. Choose white meat, skinless turkey:  save about 100-200 calories
    3. Skip the dinner roll (you can eat a roll any day, right):  save 100-200 calories
    4. Dilute the calories in casseroles and stuffing with extra vegetables:  save 100-200 calories per serving
    5. Pass up that extra cocktail:  save 150-200 calories