Weight Loss Tips During Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an amazing holiday. Not only is it a fun gathering of friends and family (generally that is, occasional drama flair-ups aside), sweatpants are considered acceptable dinner attire, and there is an abundance of food to be had.

In fact, the whole holiday is essentially centered around food. It’s basically a free-for-all.

What’s not to love about that!?

From your stomach’s perspective, nothing, it’s amazing. But if you want to stay on track with your weight loss goals, going into Thanksgiving with a “free day” or “hall pass” mentality can set you back in your journey.

But staying on track doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy yourself. In fact, we strongly encourage you to indulge and splurge a little on some of your favorite dishes.


Because total deprivation doesn’t generally work for most people. And on a day like Thanksgiving, it can also take away from the experience and enjoyment of the day, which isn’t really the point of a healthy lifestyle.

Here are some tips for how to have your cake (or pie), and eat it too!

  • Eat a small snack on your car ride over.

    Preferably something with protein like an FX Bar or a Protein Shake. The typical Thanksgiving strategy of not eating all day and showing up to Mom's famished sounds solid, but when you are starved, you are much more likely to overeat. Show up mostly hungry and you’ll find that portion control is easier.

  • Bring a side dish.

    When you make it, you control what goes in it. The downside to most Thanksgiving dinner sides, is that they are loaded with fat (lookup the recipe for green bean casserole…). Fat is not necessarily the enemy, but too much can be. Volunteer to bring your favorite side so that you can load up guilt free come dinner time.

  • Don’t stand near the food table.

    Stand literally anywhere else. It’s nearly impossible to stop eating when food is at your fingertips, so when you create a barrier, even something as small as needing to walk over the the table, you disrupt the auto-pilot eating pattern.

  • Eat throughout the day.

    Remember how we said to not show up starved? This means eat a good protein packed breakfast too. Avoid “saving” all of your calories for dinner. It takes your body time to release (and recognize) satiety hormones when you are full. Do yourself a favor and spread it out, at least a little.

  • Load up on salad first.

    Put greens on your plate first, and don’t be shy! (as long as it’s not drowning in ranch dressing…). If you don’t physically have room on your plate for a pound of grandmas butter mashed potatoes, you are less likely to eat a pound of grandmas butter mashed potatoes. Let the salad help you with portion control.

  • Commit to only 1-2 rolls.

    While they are delish, those calories will add up quick, so don’t spend them all in one place. Save room on your plate for other carbs — like pie.

  • Bring gum.

    At big gatherings we often overeat because everyone around us is chewing on something. If you have a hard time pumping the breaks, bring some gum to chew on. Not only will the spearmint flavor seriously clash with more stuffing, you will be giving your brain a chance to tune into that “full” feeling from your stomach.

  • Focus on portion size, not individual ingredients.

    It can be easy to villainize certain ingredients (looking at you gluten and sugar), and become obsessed with avoiding them. If your goal is weight loss, it’s more impactful to focus on overall calorie intake rather than if something does or does not have a “bad” ingredient. Eat slow, and don’t overload your plate.

  • Snack on the veggie tray.

    The before dinner snacking can sometimes be worse calorie wise than the main course. There is generally lots of melted cheese and tons of fat. Save your calories for the good stuff, and stick mostly to the veggie tray beforehand.

  • Limit alcoholic drinks.

    Thanksgiving is a festive occasion, and while we encourage you to relax and have fun with your family, we also advise not to get too carried away with the alcoholic beverages. Not only are they loaded with empty calories, the alcohol can mess with how your body breaks down and stores fat. Limit your day to two drinks.

We hope you find some of these tips helpful. Most importantly, remember that Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and take a moment to reflect on the good in life. Don’t get too bogged down in staying perfect.


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