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Written by: Michele Zandman - Frankel

Owner, Coach, IFBB Pro, B.S. Health and Exercise Science, Athletic Nutrition Specialist

While preparing for Thanksgiving, there are a many different types of clients we work with. Two of the most common clients include: those who choose to make their Thanksgiving meal a "relaxed" meal and don't think about tracking their meal, and those who want to track their Thanksgiving meal like any other day. For some, tracking a Thanksgiving meal is a breeze. We joke and say "Thanksgiving is the 'bodybuilder's holiday'" because...lean turkey meat, sweet potato, and greens. By themselves, those foods are a perfectly well-balanced and nutritious choice. But once we drown it all in heavy creams, butters, oils and gravy, the calories begin to sky rocket.

Now, Thanksgiving is only one meal, so don't feel guilty if you simply want to relax and enjoy your food with your loved ones. But if you ARE being mindful, here is some advice to help you make healthier decisions so you will leave the gathering feeling satisfied, rather than sick to your stomach

  1. Eat a breakfast and lunch properly balanced in proteins, carbohydrates and fat. This way, you will not be starving by the time you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal. You will feel satiated, and it will give you more control over your appetite, rather than you feeling starved and quick to consume anything and everything that is put in front of you.

  2. Eat in moderation. You can enjoy all of the delicious sides in proper amounts rather than heaping portions.

  3. Eat slowly, savor the flavor, and be present while you eat. Give your stomach and brain some time to catch up to one another in regards to hunger signals.

  4. Lighten Up your Meal (if you'd like) - Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, lighten up your recipes with less fat, sugar, and overall calories.


  1. Use fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make the gravy.

  2. Reduce butter and oil wherever you can. Steam and season up your vegetables and side dishes instead.

  3. Chicken broth in place of water or cream can add a ton of flavor to your mashed potatoes and other side dishes.

  4. Try using plain non-fat greek yogurt and dry seasoning mix for creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.

  5. No-crust pies or only using a bottom crust and eliminating the top crust.

  6. Eat the white meat turkey instead of the dark meat turkey for a leaner option, lower in fat.

5. Pick and choose your spots. Browse the food spread and decide what is worth it and what is not. Go light on the sides if you want to indluge on the desserts. Or go light on the desserts if you would like to indlude on the sides. Or meet somewhere in the middle.

6. Go easy on alcohol. Don’t forget that those liquid calories QUICKLY add up! Cut calories by making wine spritzers (adding seltzer to wine for volume), opt for light beers, or use diet sodas for mixers. Drink a glass of sparkling water in between alcoholic beverages. This way you stay hydrated, limit alcohol calories, and avoid a nasty hangover.

7. Be realistic.The holiday season is a time for celebration and a lot of temptations. This is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss. Maintaining your weight during the holiday season is certainly a WIN!

8. Focus on family and friends. Thanksgiving is not just about the delicious bounty of food. It’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends. Spend your time socializing and catching up on life instead of constantly grazing at the hors d’oeuvres.

9. Avoid super fatty hors d’oeuvres and save your appetite for the main meal. Eating a well balanced meal before your Thanksgiving party will help with this.

10. Get active. Start your day off with a good weight training session. Increase your movement throughout the day or play a game outside. Just move! Healthy habits follow healthy habits.

11. Stay hydrated with water or seltzers. This will help you stay full and also aid in digestion.

12. Brush your teeth. When the meal has ended, and you are feeling satisfied, brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth is a great way to send a signal to your brain that you are done eating and the meal is over. If you do not have a toothbrush or toothpaste available, some minty sugar-free gum is the second best thing.

13. Dont feel guilty if things don't go according to plan. It was ONE MEAL. Get right back on track the next day. You will feel super strong in the gym with that extra food in you. Use the food to your benefit and try hitting a PR (personal record) on a lift, or hit a new performance goal! Make it something POSITIVE and feel great !



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