Thanksgiving Survival Tips

Exercise is very important in maintaining a fit and healthy body and the holiday season is the worse time of the year for most people to keep fit. From Thanksgiving dinner in November through to Christmas and New Year celebrations, the late autumn and early winter are the hardest times to keep slim and in shape. Many people put on weight during the holiday season and then struggle to lose it again.

The amount we eat during the holiday season is not the whole problem either – we all become so much more lethargic. With afternoons spent eating and then watching television, followed by evenings of more eating, drinking and more television, it is no surprise that by the New Year everyone is planning to get fit and lose weight as part of a New Year resolution.

One way to limit the weight gain during Thanksgiving and Christmas is to get active and do some exercise. In a study published in New England Journal of Medicine the lead researcher Dr. Yanovski stated that:

The finding that study volunteers reporting more physical activity had less holiday weight gain suggests that increasing physical activity may be an effective method for preventing weight gain during this high-risk time” (source:

The advice is exceptionally simple – do some exercise during the holiday season. We know that exercise alone does not help you lose weight, but it does help you maintain your current weight. Also, when you are exercising, or just playing an sport, you are not eating!

Stay Healthy This Thanksgiving

Conventional wisdom is that most people gain from five to ten pounds of fat during the holidays. Happily, that much at least appears to be false. However, Americans do tend to gain some weight during this time of the year.

Studies have shown that Americans gain an average of 0.4 to 1.8 pounds each year during their adult lives. What is alarming is that although we are putting on fewer pounds during the holidays than we had previously thought, we are not taking that extra weight back off.

Studies have shown that most of us gain less weight over the winter holidays than we think, only one pound on average. However, the news is not all that good, as many people never manage to lose the weight again.

Average weight gain over the Holidays

Permanent holiday weight gain is not a pleasant thought for most of us, especially since the number one New Year resolution is to lose weight fast. Eighty percent of Americans make a New Year resolution each year, and twenty six percent of those resolutions were to improve overall health and fitness, making this the top category for self-improvement. This year was no anomaly either, according to Amy O’Connor, deputy editor of Prevention magazine: “Fifty-nine million people every year resolve to lose weight.”

So what can we do to maintain some degree of weight control this season? Is there anything we can do to stick to our weight loss plan or perhaps even achieve some quick weight loss, in the midst of all that Christmas cheer?

Healthy Holiday Food Tips:

How To Make a Healthy Dinner

Thanksgiving does not have to be an unhealthy meal full of saturated fat, salt and sugar. With a few simple changes to your usual dinner, thanksgiving can be a healthy holiday dinner which will not leave you feeling fatter and heavier!

Holidays Are Dangerous For Your Weight

Anyone who is struggling with their weight knows that the holidays are a dangerous time. Among all holidays, Thanksgiving is the worst of all holidays for losing weight, because it is centered around food. Just because you want to lose weight it does not mean that you should not enjoy yourself on this holiday. After all, Thanksgiving only comes once a year.

If you want to enjoy thanksgiving without letting it ruin your diet, follow these tips. Simple adjustments to the regular Thanksgiving dinner dishes can make all the difference between a calorie swamped meal to a lean, but enjoyable feast for you and your family.

Tasty and Healthy Thanksgiving  Recipes:

1. Thanksgiving Turkey

This is of course the center piece of any holiday meal and for no reason should you avoid it. Turkey is a very lean meat. The problem is that it is usually basted in butter and its own fat. The butter adds many calories and saturate fat to the meal. Rather than use butter swap it for another dressing like olive oil and herbs. See a full recipe below.

2. Thanksgiving Eggnog

Eggnog is a calorie rich beverage and the bad thing is that it does not even fill you up. If it is possible, swap this drink for hot cider, which is another traditional drink. You should limit yourself to 1-2 cups of eggnog at most.

3. Thanksgiving Rolls and bread

Swap white flour rolls for whole wheat or whole flour rolls. Try to avoid buttering your rolls, try olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead – the Italian method is much healthier.

4. Thanksgiving Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are healthy and low in calories. The problem is that people make it into casseroles with a lot of extra ingredients which are fatty and unhealthy. Simply bake the sweet potatoes and serve with a salad and dressing.

5. Thanksgiving Deserts

Many family meals are actually reasonably healthy, until the final course. Desert is a calorie minefield. The best healthy solution is to serve fruit as desert. A healthy dollop of fresh cream provides the sweetness without adding too many calories. People love fruit, and it is very healthy.

These few small changes will not spoil the festive spirit of Thanksgiving, but will help to make the day a little healthier, and some people will not even notice the difference! Remember to also exercise during your holiday!

Healthy Meals for an Alternative Thanksgiving and Christmas

Thanksgiving recipes generally contain a lot of fat and this increases the energy in the food which leads to weight gain over the holiday period.

Listed below are the ingredients that are usually to blame for causing expanding waistlines during the holiday season. Although many of the substitutions are not ideal, they are an improvement. To some extent high fat in the diet is not the major problem – the major problem is that high fat meals hold more energy, therefore you are actually consuming far more calories when you cook with the high fat versions.

Although Thanksgiving is not really a time to go on a calorie controlled weight loss diet, there is no reason why you cannot improve your Thanksgiving diet by making a few small changes.

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Substitutions

Criticism of the Thanksgiving Diet

This diet, often referred to as a Thanksgiving diet, or holiday season diet, is really slightly flawed. Although there is more energy in fat than protein or carbs, low fat foods are often higher in sugar. To ensure that you do not gain too much weight, it may be more sensible to consume less starchy food, such as bread, past and rice, before and during the holiday period. Eating less is the key to weight loss, but to manage your weight it is vital to exercise during the holiday season.

How To Exercise During the Holiday Season to Limit Weight Gain

Only regular and consistent exercise combined with a calorie restricted diet will get you the holiday weight loss results we are seeking. If you do not think that you have the time to exercise then here are some additional tips to get you more active:

  1. Take a walk outside. It is beautiful outside during the holidays, so take a walk down the street or around the block. Take a walking tour of Christmas lights in the neighborhood. A 165 lb. woman walking for 30 minutes will burn approximately 187 calories.
  2. Walk More. When you go Christmas shopping park as far away from the entrance of the mall as possible, so you are forced to walk further. Remember, every little bit adds up!
  3. Investigate a new shopping mall. You are going shopping anyway, so why not get some extra exercise in the process? Find a mall you have never been to before and make it a point to walk up and down every single staircase. While you are at it, walk past every single store too.
  4. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Right now, before the holiday get crazy, make a plan to get into the gym. Thinking you’ll ‘get around to it’ just doesn’t happen when there are gifts to buy, foods to prepare, and family to visit. Make a plan, write it down, and stick to it.
  5. Do not fall into the ‘all or nothing’ trap. If you have missed a few visits to the gym already this week, do not give up until New Years! Instead, get in there and exercise now – even if it is just once. Some exercise is always better than none at all.
  6. Do 10 Minutes of Exercise. When you are really short on motivation or time, try to get at least ten minutes of high intensity exercise. Chances are, once you get started you will finish up with the recommended thirty minutes. Even if you do quit after ten minutes, that is still a lot better than zero!
  7. Exercise Before Eating. Get in a good solid exercise session right before a big meal. It will increase your will power and your metabolism.
  8. Do Your Own Chores. Do not pay the neighbor kid to shovel off the walk for you – do it yourself! You will save a few bucks and burn about 225 calories for every thirty minutes of shoveling.
  9. Clean the house! Hey, you need to get ready for the annual family visit anyway. Vigorous house cleaning burns about 150 calories every thirty minutes.
  10. Find a workout buddy. Pick a good friend or family member that also wants to lose weight fast, and together make a commitment to exercise regularly. You might even want to buy each other a gift certificate for a local gym as a Christmas gift!

There is no doubt that healthy weight loss during the holidays is difficult, but it is certainly not impossible. One popular option now is to follow a 5:2 diet to help lose weight, and this can work well during the holiday period – you do not have to worry about how much you eat on the festive days, so long as you fast on the others.

Remember to exercise regularly and this year you will be smiling like Santa instead of grimacing like the Grinch!


Holiday Weight Gain Slight, But May Last A Lifetime” NICHD

Roast Turkey Photo by Gregory Kohs