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4 Ways to Have a Healthier, Happier Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving may be America’s Cheat Day, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw all your hard-earned gains out the window when it’s time to talk turkey. Let yourself indulge a little – after all, good food is something to celebrate – but if you’re looking for a little help to a healthier, happier Thanksgiving dinner, check out these four healthy alternatives to standard holiday fare that lose some of the calories and none of the flavor.

A picture containing plate, fully cooked turkey with trimmings, table, and white background

TURKEY: skip the dark meat. Turkey is arguably the best part of Thanksgiving, and there’s no reason to cut it out entirely. Instead, just be mindful of what you eat. Rather than indulging in skin-on dark meat, go for white meat without the skin. You get a lot of the flavor while shaving off a considerable amount of calories associated with turkey. You can also cut down calories while keeping the flavor in the preparation stage: instead of rubbing the turkey down with butter, baste it with a fat-free chicken broth or simply use an air-chilled bird. You’ll find the turkey is just as flavorful and juicy.

MASHED POTATOES: not just potatoes anymore.
With potatoes, cream, butter and gravy, mashed potatoes are some of the biggest health offenders in the Thanksgiving spread. To make this staple side dish a little healthier, consider substituting a portion of the potatoes with cauliflower, and using naturally creamy potatoes like Yukon gold. You’ll get all the flavor, fewer calories, and more fiber.

STUFFING: mix it up. We don’t want you to give up one of the very best things about Thanksgiving. Nonetheless, stuffing is a major calorie culprit, which means a little bit of compromise is in order. Instead of standard homemade stuffing, why not try something with more vegetables for a higher fiber count? Cranberry stuffing has greens like celery and parsley, and the fiber from ingredients like water chestnuts and apples. And doesn’t cranberry just taste like Thanksgiving.

A bowl of cranberry stuffing with vegetables

DESSERT: ditch the crust. Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without some seasonal dessert. There are a couple of quick fixes for making homemade pumpkin pie healthier. The first is to skip the crust entirely and bake the pie in molds, cutting out a heaping helping of calories with every slice. If you must have a crust (and who could blame you?), try a homemade crust over a store-bought one to skim some calories and get a richer, more satisfying flavor. If you’re feeling adventurous, it’s pretty easy to modify a pumpkin pie recipe to incorporate protein powder, which you can pick up at any Fitness Connection location.

The most important thing of all is don’t stress too hard about Thanksgiving. After all, you work out so you don’t have to be afraid to indulge every now and then. So have fun, eat what you want, and practice a little bit of mindfulness with your portions. Not only will you feel less guilt, but you might also avoid the food coma and upset stomach that comes with indulging a little too much. And since you know you'll be consuming a lot more calories than usual Thanksgiving Day, don't skip your morning workout. All Fitness Connection locations will be open from 6 AM to 2 PM on November 25 and we will re-open at 6 AM on November 26. We're thankful for each of our members and are here to support your fitness journey through the upcoming holiday season.