Halloween candy wrappings are still scattered around the house and already, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Holiday feasts in the USA often involve an all-out gorge with everyone retreating to the couch after dinner feeling bloated and about to burst.

It’s enough to challenge the willpower of even the most-disciplined, fitness enthusiast.

The good news is you can still enjoy a wonderful holiday dinner without everyone feeling stuffed and suffering from a food-coma.

Here’s some easy tips to enjoy a Happy AND Healthy Thanksgiving:


If you’ve got family visiting, do it first thing in the morning before people wake-up or inspire them to workout with you! Remember that a workout will make you feel better and help to suppress your appetite so you’re less likely to overeat. Most gyms are open for limited hours and many are offering a free Thanksgiving workout to help you stay on track, including ours. You can also participate in the Shuffle for Share Thanksgiving 5K walk/run fundraiser and do something good for you while raising funds for those in need, an awesome gesture during the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Focus on what you NEED to eat

If you focus first on consuming what you need to be healthy, you can still enjoy the treats, but you’ll be less likely to over-indulge. Instead of saying you aren’t going to eat any holiday treats and drinks, instead focus on drinking 100 ounces of water, or consuming 10 different types of vegetables and fruit each day. 

Thanksgiving dinner can be healthy

If you’re in charge of dinner or helping to plan, keep these simple tips in mind:

Schedule the meal earlier in the day. Thanksgiving Dinner between 2:00-5:00pm will allow some time for the body to digest the heavy meal before you go to bed. Consider hosting Thanksgiving the European way – schedule Thanksgiving as an all-day celebration and serve small dishes every hour or so. Spread the calories out throughout the day rather than gobbling them all up within 5 minutes and you’ll be less likely to feel awful.

Serve water as guests arrive and with dinner

Have a vegetable platter available for guests to munch on before dinner

Serve a delicious soup as the appetizer

Minimize the carb overload – Instead of preparing mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, sweet potatoes and rolls choose only one or two of these dishes. It will save a ton of calories and you’ll feel less ‘stuffed’ and yes, the pun is intended. 

Serve a beautiful salad 

Serve two or three different types of vegetables at the table

Take a break between courses

No one wants to skip the apple and pumpkin pie, but before desert is served, insist everyone go for a walk around the neighborhood or plan some fun activities like charades, a board game or a quick game of basketball, flag football, frisbee or tag. You could even pull out the holiday decorations and have the family help to get the house looking festive. Bottom line, move your body and give your stomach some time to digest the meal before you start in on the sweets and you’ll feel a lot better. If you do eat desert, choose only your favorite or just one bite of your top few. Eat slowly and enjoy the indulgence. An occasional treat is not unhealthy so savor it.

I hope you enjoy a happy and healthy Thanksgiving with family, friends and those you love.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at nwpersonaltraining.com.

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