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Balancing Fitness and Portion Control During Thanksgiving: A Guide to Healthy Celebrations

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, family gatherings, and, of course, indulgent feasts. As enjoyable as the holiday can be, it often poses challenges for those who prioritize fitness and healthy eating. However, with a little planning and mindful choices, it's possible to strike a balance between savoring delicious Thanksgiving dishes and maintaining portion control. Let’s explore strategies to help you navigate the holiday while staying on track with your fitness goals.

portion control during thanksgiving

Preparing for the Festive Feast

  • Establish realistic expectations: Acknowledge that Thanksgiving is a special occasion and allow yourself to enjoy the festivities without guilt. It's about finding a balance between indulgence and moderation.

  • Stay active: Engage in physical activity before and after the holiday. This will not only help burn extra calories but also create a positive mindset towards maintaining fitness during Thanksgiving. Start by attending our free annual Turkey Trim workout on Thanksgiving morning (details here).

Mindful Eating

  • Portion control: Use smaller plates and bowls to help control portion sizes. Fill your plate with a variety of dishes but be mindful of the quantity. Remember, you can always go back for seconds if you're still hungry.

  • Slow down and savor: Take your time to enjoy each bite and engage in conversations with loved ones. Eating slowly allows your brain to register feelings of fullness, preventing overeating.

Healthy Ingredient Substitutions

  • Incorporate healthier ingredients: Modify traditional recipes by swapping certain ingredients with healthier alternatives. For example, use whole grain flour instead of refined flour, or opt for natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey instead of refined sugar.

  • Increase vegetable and fruit intake: Include a colorful array of vegetables and fruits in your dishes. Roasted vegetables, salads, and fruit platters can provide essential nutrients and fiber while keeping calorie intake in check.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink water: Stay hydrated throughout the day, as thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger. Water can help curb your appetite and promote better digestion.

fitness during thanksgiving

Active Thanksgiving Traditions

  • Incorporate physical activities: Suggest family activities that involve movement, such as going for a walk after the meal or playing outdoor games. These activities not only promote bonding but also burn calories. We host a free Turkey Trim community workout each year, and we encourage you to bring your friends and family to join in on a fun workout. It's a great tradition to start with your family if you need an idea for something active to kick off this holiday!

Post-Thanksgiving Recovery

  • Get back on track: If you happen to overindulge during Thanksgiving, don't let it discourage you. Resume your regular exercise routine and return to balanced, nutritious meals to get back on track.

Thanksgiving doesn't have to derail your fitness journey. By using strategies like portion control, mindful eating, and incorporating physical activity, you can enjoy the holiday while staying committed to your health goals. Remember, Thanksgiving is about gratitude, celebration, and togetherness, so embrace the joy of the occasion while making conscious choices to support your well-being.


Scott Ryan, BS, CSCS, CF-L1, CF-W, BFRC

A professional coach who specializes in Applied Functional Science, Strength and Conditioning, CrossFit L1, and Olympic Lifting. He attended New England College in New Hampshire obtaining a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Biomechanics. He has a passion for injury prevention and coaching, as he was a collegiate athlete who suffered sports injuries. His goal is to get athletes back to optimal shape as well as prevent future injuries.


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