Happy Thanksgiving - Eat, Drink, and Don’t Worry

Thanksgiving, and the holidays in general, can be a daunting time for those who are watching their waistlines. With so many food-focused festivities taking place bam bam bam, sheer terror strikes many a heart. Yet terror is antithetical to what the holidays are about and that terror can do way more harm than pumpkin pie lovingly crafted with butter crust and topped with real whipped cream.

‘Tis true, most of us eat more on Thanksgiving than we do on a typical day, but this doesn’t mean you’re going to gain weight. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, world renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, “Fortunately, the idea that Americans put on between five and 10 pounds over the holiday season is more myth than reality. A National Institutes of Health study published in 2000 showed that the average holiday weight gain is just over one pound.”

Going Rogue

Here is my advice for watching what you eat on Thanksgiving: Don’t bother. Let yourself off the hook. Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy yourself and to relax with family and friends. It’s not a time to diet or to stress over what delicious dish your favorite uncle made that you can’t eat. Forget counting calories. Or fat grams. Or carbs. These shenanigans are all bad practice in my book at any time of year.

Many traditional Thanksgiving dishes are filling, so slowly and mindfully eat a little of everything that looks good to you and periodically set your utensils down to pause and assess how you feel. Whatever quality fats (butter, gravy, whipped cream) may be present, savor them in moderation and with glee. We need healthy fats to feel satiated, and the more you shun these foods, the more volume of food you’ll eat.

A common practice is to skip breakfast before “the big one.” This is a big no-no. Eat something, even if it’s nut butter on a couple of pieces of whole grain toast, to get your metabolism revved and to keep you from being ravenous when the stuffing is passed. Battle any post-meal sluggishness by gathering a group for a brisk walk in the cool, crisp air. Walking is great for digestion and will make you feel lighter and more energized.

It’s Not All About the Food

Even if you were to enjoy an all-stuffing meal, I’m convinced that the camaraderie, thanks-giving, laughter, and togetherness of this wonderful holiday (my favorite!) will leave you feeling better than if you were to stuff yourself with stuffing on any regular day. The body simply can’t digest well when it’s stressed and the more you focus on those you’re with and the meaning of the day, the less you’ll be freaking out about putting on the weight that you probably won’t gain anyway. According to Marc David, visionary health and nutrition consultant and author of The Slow Down Diet and Nourishing Wisdom, “The mind busily chews on its fears and fantasies about food, and we miss the experience of joyous eating in the present moment.”


Jill Grunewald is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, health writer, and passionate advocate for sustainable agriculture. Her practice, Healthful Elements, focuses on bio-individual health and whole-foods therapy, with specialization in the endocrine system and hormones, particularly thyroid and adrenal health.