Thanksgiving is once again upon us and that can mean only one thing: food! What are you looking forward to most? Snacking on hors d’oeuvres while you wait for dinner? Or perhaps that amazing family recipe for stuffing, sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows, or your famous pie with whipped cream? Could it be turkey legs with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy? Maybe tamales or other traditional family delicacies? No matter your fancy, this is that special time of year when we are surrounded by one delightful dish after another!

It’s also a fancy feast that may come with a price. Did you know that people can expect to gain anywhere from two to four pounds on Thanksgiving Day?1 To further put that into context, you would need to walk 35 miles just to work off one pound.

The good news is you can still celebrate and enjoy your traditional holiday favorites while keeping your sugar intake low. Here are a few suggestions:2

  • Don’t tell yourself you can’t eat something – take a bite, eat it slowly, chew it 30 times and enjoy it. Did you know that after a bite or two, you are not really tasting the food anymore?3
  • Set your fork down after every bite as it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know you are full.
  • Drink a glass of water before and during dinner.
  • While waiting for the main course, eat fresh veggies and dips like hummus or salsa.
  • Choose turkey, not honey baked ham.
  • Take a smaller serving of potatoes with a large serving of vegetables.
  • Take a small portion of anything with a cream sauce, gravy, or marshmallows.
  • Drink sparkling water instead of calorie-filled drinks.
  • Rather than eating that second helping or another piece of pie, take a walk and start a new tradition.
  • Talk more than you eat.

Things to consider: Is it really worth eating more? 

It’s easy to get lost in the smorgasbord of tasty options on Thanksgiving Day. Before you know it you’re slipping on those comfy sweatpants to accommodate that belly full of goodies. But here’s something to keep in mind: overdoing it during the holidays also means putting in more time on the treadmill. Here’s a look at how much walking you’d need to do to burn off some of your favorite holiday treats:4 

  • Pumpkin pie: 1 piece  = 2.9 miles
  • Turkey leg: 1 leg and thigh with skin = 192 cal = 17.5 min = 1.8 miles
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy: 1/2 cup = 1.7 miles
  • Sweet potato casserole: 3/4 cup = 4.2 miles
  • Pecan pie: 1 slice = 4.6 miles

You can still enjoy those special treats this time of year. That’s what the holidays are all about. Just make an effort to practice everything in moderation. See where you can try to eat the lower calorie foods and make sensible substitutions. And when you’re at the table, eat slower, drink more water, share a story during your meal, and maybe go for a walk instead of eating a second helping of pie. Happy Thanksgiving! 

1 Moscovitz, L. 2020,
2 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner with Diabetes,
3 Slow Down, You Eat Too Fast,,brain%20that%20you%20are%20full.
4 How Far You Have to Run to Burn Off Thanksgiving Foods,’d%20Have%20to%20Run%20to%20Burn%20Off%E2%80%A6&text=Pumpkin%20Pie%3A%201%20piece%20%3D%20316,a%201.1%20mile%20run!) 

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About the author: Brian Christina