Health Advocate Blog

This Thanksgiving, balance food, fitness and family

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, bringing with it the traditional and much-anticipated menu of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and so much more. While the holiday is a fantastic opportunity to kick off the holiday season, connect with friends and family, and express our gratitude for all the things we are thankful for, it also tends to be an opportunity to gorge ourselves at the dinner table. Here are some ways that you can balance food, fitness and family for a healthier Thanksgiving.

In order to keep this feast in check, you can aim to prepare healthier options at your holiday dinner. Here are some healthy suggestions.

  • For a fresh, tasty appetizer, make mini Caprese skewers—spear a tomato slice or grape tomato, a basil leaf, and a small ball or slice of mozzarella cheese on a toothpick. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.
  • Put out a plate of raw veggies and hummus for a healthy pre-dinner munchie.
  • Roast your turkey with a light bath of olive oil and a salt-free herb mix of 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, two teaspoons of pepper, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, and 1 teaspoon each of paprika, thyme and sage
  • Make a healthier turkey brine using these tips
  • Prepare stuffing using vegetable broth and whole grain bread cubes. Add extra celery and onion for more veggies, or try adding apples for a sweet and savory taste
  • Mash your potatoes with a head of steamed cauliflower for more nutrients and fewer calories. Swap in fat-free, plain Greek yogurt for milk and butter when mashing.
  • Skip the green bean casserole and serve green beans sautéed with garlic and olive oil
  • Sprinkle cinnamon on top of your yams rather than serving with butter or marshmallows
  • For any baked goods: Replace white flour with whole wheat flour or almond flour. Use a 50:50 ratio of whole wheat flour to white flour, or a 25:75 ratio of almond flour to white flour
  • For any baked goods that include added sugar: Substitute applesauce for half of the sugar. Use a 1:1 ratio for this the substitution, and reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup
  • For a fun, colorful dessert, serve fruit skewers—use strawberries, grapes, melon cubes, pineapple, or any of your other favorites! Serve with fat-free Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey for dipping

Incorporate a fun fitness activity into your holiday. Here are a few ideas to get the whole family involved and avoid falling asleep on the couch immediately after dessert.

  • Register for a Turkey Trot. These fun runs or races, typically ranging from 5k (3.1 miles) to 10k (6.2 miles), are held on Thanksgiving morning in communities nationwide. You can run, jog or even walk with loved ones to enjoy some activity before the big feast.
  • Play some two-hand touch. Instead of watching football, encourage everyone to go outside and play. You could also play Frisbee, volleyball or other team games.
  • Plan a holiday scavenger hunt. Pre-planning a scavenger hunt around your yard or neighborhood can be a fun way to get your family moving.
  • Take a post-meal walk. Go walking with the family after dinner. It gets you out of the house and helps you burn calories, too.
  • Try a new indoor activity. If the weather is too chilly or dreary for your liking, play active games inside such as charades or be silly with the kids by playing musical chairs and freeze dance.

This holiday season, indulge in conversation and spend quality time with your friends and family. While most holiday celebrations center on meals, the true meaning and intention behind them is togetherness. Click here for tips and ideas to help make the most of holiday gatherings.

There are so many ways to be healthy and stay active on Thanksgiving. We hope you have a happy and safe holiday with your family!