9 Tips For a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving

All of us at the Pritikin Longevity Center wish you a happy, healthy Thanksgiving Day! You probably won’t eat Pritikin-perfect, and that’s okay. Don’t worry about it! Enjoy the day. How you eat on Thanksgiving Day does not determine your health; how you eat the other 364 days of the years does. Here are 9 tips for making this special day healthier, plus 3 post-binge tips (in case you need them.)

Written by
10.5 min read
Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving


Eat Breakfast.

Start a healthy Thanksgiving with a big bountiful breakfast like hot whole-grain cereal and an egg-white omelet brimming with veggies. That’s because saving up calories for the big meal rarely works. You end up “spending” a lot more by overindulging on belly busters like a full ladle of gravy (about 800 calories!) instead of a tablespoon-size taste (70 calories).

A healthy thanksgiving starts with breakfast.
A healthy Thanksgiving starts with a hearty, healthy breakfast.


Pitch In.

Call your host and say, “I’d love to bring something. What are you planning on serving?” If you discover that one of the dishes is particularly unhealthy, offer to bring your own version. Sweet potatoes, for example, can be real killers – full of butter, syrup, and marshmallows. But when prepared within Pritikin guidelines, they’re perfectly healthy – and absolutely delicious.

Just bake the yams in foil at 400 degrees F until their syrupy juice starts to seep out, usually about one hour. Then, peel and layer them with pineapple slices and a little cinnamon.

Another great sweet-potato-style choice for Turkey Day is a salad/side dish that’s always popular among guests at the Pritikin health resort:   Sweet Potato and Apple Salad.

3Put the mindful eating skills you learned at Pritikin into practice.. Put the mindful eating skills you learned at Pritikin into practice. Eat slowly.  Savor every bite.[/caption]


Position Yourself Well.

Don’t put yourself right in front of the candy dish. Who needs the agony? Plant yourself elsewhere, facing other pleasures – a nice fire, warm smiles, good tunes and a dance floor. You’ll have a much better time, and you’ll like yourself a lot more come morning.


Divide Your Plate Well.

As you learned at the Pritikin Longevity Center, fill your plate half with vegetables, one quarter with white turkey meat, and the rest with a healthy starch, like corn on the cob, a baked potato, or sweet potatoes Pritikin-style.


Savor Every Bite.

Eat slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and really savor each mouthful. It’s one of the easiest ways to enjoy your holiday meal without going overboard on calories.


Do What You Want; No One’s Watching.

People often think that if they say “no” to certain dishes, everyone notices, or the host is insulted, when in fact there’s a very good chance no one notices. Just play it down. Simply say, “No thanks, I’m full,” or “Try me later.” Then, sit back and enjoy the rest of your healthy Thanksgiving Day.


Start Thanksgiving With Physical Activity – And Stay Active.

Enjoy the outdoors this Thanksgiving.
Take the focus away from binging this Thanksgiving. Go outside and enjoy the crisp autumn air.

Take a walk early in the day. And after dinner, suggest everyone go out (if the weather permits) for a neighborhood stroll. What a wonderful way for families to enjoy the holiday together.

Another tip: Plan some outdoor fun before dinner, like a game of soccer or volleyball with the kids. (It’s a great strategy for keeping the appetizer buffet at bay, too.)


Keep Your Goals Firmly In Mind.

Before leaving for the party, steal away for a little quiet time to focus on you, only you. Take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself of your ultimate vision – a leaner you, a healthier you, a happier you. Then, tell yourself, “It’s going to be a great evening with family and friends!” Julia Child (of all people) said it best: “Life is the proper binge.”

What To Do If You Binged

Went overboard on sausage-filled stuffing, greasy gravy, and pumpkin pie? It happens to the best of us.

Here are 3 key post-Thanksgiving binge tips…

1. Get right back on track.

Don’t let a Turkey Day binge turn into an “I blew it” binge that lasts till January 1st.

Toward that effort, make sure that you’re returning to a home well stocked with healthy foods for the day after Thanksgiving.  A big bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen table.  Fresh salad fixings in the fridge for lunch. Homemade Pritikin soups in the freezer. Nonfat yogurt and other healthy snack foods.

Make healthy use of leftovers. Top your salad, for example, with strips of roasted, skinless turkey breast.

And certainly, keep moving. Get back to your regular Pritikin exercise routine, or if guests are in town, plan something active for all of you for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  A hike in the woods.  A game of softball.  Cruising the shopping mall.  In other words, do your best to stay off the couch.

2. Stick to your normal Pritikin routine.

Don’t, for example, overcompensate for your Thanksgiving binge over the next several days with a ton of hard-core exercise. Just stick to your regular fitness schedule. Trying to cram in extra workouts at the gym could leave you feeling stressed out. What’s worse, they may lead to an injury, benching you for the next several weeks. That’s the last thing your health and weight-loss goals need.

Don't let one day of overeating turn you into a butterball.
Don’t let one day of overeating turn you into a butterball. Pick yourself up and get back on track.

In the days after Thanksgiving, don’t starve yourself either. Sure, it seems like a good idea; you want to eat less to make up for the Turkey Day binge. But as you learned in nutrition classes at the Pritikin Longevity Center, restricting your food intake will only make you hungry. And when your stomach growls for too long, you know what happens. Any leftovers sitting in the fridge, especially the fatty, sugary ones, end up in huge platefuls in front of you.

Instead, start your day with a nice big bowl of hot, whole grain cereal topped with fruit, and if you’d like, an egg-white omelet full of stir-fried veggies. Round out the rest of the day with plenty more super-healthy Pritikin-style foods, like:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh veggie snacks with hummus
  • Green salads
  • Baked potatoes with salsa
  • Sweet potatoes with a little Dijon mustard
  • Corn on the cob
  • Cooked whole grains like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, and quinoa
  • Corn tortillas with lettuce, onions, salsa, and pinto beans
  • Hearty, bean-rich soups
  • Fish
  • Nonfat Greek yogurt
  • No-sugar-added applesauce

3. Stop with the guilt.

No good comes from beating yourself up. In the coming weeks (when the four main food groups for many people are cookies, candy, fudge, and booze), do your best not to descend into a “binge-guilt-binge-guilt-oh-what-the-hell” cycle.

Focus instead on the present, and praise yourself for laying the groundwork with a post-Thanksgiving Pritikin plan. Be proud that you’re conscious of your eating and exercise behaviors, and your efforts to improve them.

Even better, lay the groundwork for a healthier life in 2019 and beyond. Consider booking a wellness vacation at Pritikin in January. That way, even if you slip up over the holidays, you’ll have piece of mind knowing that you’ve already made the commitment to “get clean” in 2019.

Here’s another plus about booking a Pritikin retreat in the new year. Slated for roll-out in January 2015 is a new specialty program that will give you highly personalized support all year long.

With a vacation at Pritikin, plus on-going support, you’ll really have something to celebrate in 2015!

Scroll to Top

Are you taking or considering a medication for weight loss?

Combining the Pritikin Program with Semaglutide or other weight loss medications could potentially speed up weight loss, reduce side effects, preserve lean body mass, and support long-term metabolic health.