Thanksgiving Dinner 2016: Cut Down on Calories and Fats with Healthy Food Choices

Thanksgiving 2016
Credit: Matthew Eisman / Stringer/ Getty

With Thanksgiving 2016 fast approaching, we’re sure all you can think about is the super-large Thanksgiving dinner you are going to mow on. But if you’re watching what you eat or are concerned about weight gain this holiday season, it could really put a damper on your Thanksgiving experience.

Don’t fret! You don’t have to break your diet just because it’s a holiday. In fact, when it comes to Thanksgiving, there are many healthy food options you can choose from that will help you avoid weight gain.

When you think of the average Thanksgiving dinner, you probably are thinking about high-calorie foods and foods with high fats, but being aware of your options and knowing what to eat can help you safely navigate Thanksgiving dinner without adding to your waist line.

Below you will find some tips for cutting down on calories and fat so you can focus on healthy food this Thanksgiving.

Cut Down on Calories and Fat for Thanksgiving Dinner

Whether you’re the host or a guest, it’s important to prepare healthy food options. A good place to start is with the side dishes. This includes offering more vegetable options to pair with the turkey or even swapping traditional mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower. Really, your guests won’t be able to tell the difference as long as it’s seasoned well.

Another useful trick is to remember to eat breakfast and lunch prior to a Thanksgiving dinner. Many of us get so excited by the idea of how much food awaits for dinner that we starve ourselves all day in anticipation. This is a huge negative and can really mess with you.

Not only does skipping breakfast slow down your metabolism, but skipping earlier meals in the day may also cause you to overeat and stock up on unwanted and unnecessary calories—which can very easily lead to weight gain. Instead, opt for high-fiber foods for breakfast so that you don’t overdo it by dinner time.

Another large culprit in ruining diets is alcohol. It seems that when it comes to the holidays, they wouldn’t quite be the same without alcohol; and so, we find ourselves half of bottle of wine down and still going. Just because you don’t feel the effects of alcohol because you ate a lot it, doesn’t mean that alcohol isn’t still affecting you.

There are many empty calories in alcoholic beverages that can add up to some serious pounds when paired with overeating. Slow down your pace when it comes to the booze, and for every alcoholic beverage you have, supplement with water.

If you’re attending a dinner that is buffet-style or even family-style, reach for the salad and vegetables before anything else. This will ensure that you fill up slightly and get your fix of healthy veggies so you don’t overdo it with the less healthy food options available.

Lastly, only eat until you’re satisfied. Don’t try to outdo your uncle and see how much more you can eat than him, and definitely don’t keep eating beyond fullness just because others are still eating. You will only be left feeling sick and unbuttoning your belt or pants. Chew your food slowly and stop once you feel full. If you’re hungry again in 20 minutes, then head over for seconds.

These are just some tips to help ensure that you don’t begin putting on unnecessary holiday weight this Thanksgiving and don’t break your diet. Thanksgiving should be enjoyed, and dinner shouldn’t put you in a food coma. So enjoy time with friends and family rather than sleeping on the couch after a large meal.

“How to prepare for healthy holiday eating,” Senior Eats website,, last accessed November 16, 2016.