Tips for Serving a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

Make it fun to have a healthy Thanksgiving dinner No one is excited about the prospect of gaining weight over the holidays. After all, it’s not just one meal that comprises this season – it’s a series of parties, special occasions, and indulgences over a six-week period. So I’ve compiled healthy Thanksgiving dinner ideas right here along with tips for how to stick to a clean eating plan over the entire holiday season.

When you’re mindful of each event that comes up and cook healthier options when you can, all your strength training and clean eating efforts will continue to pay off.

Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

Check out these ideas for healthy Thanksgiving dinner recipes:

103 Healthy Holiday Recipes. I browsed these recipes and was surprised to see that most are indeed low in fat and sugar. (The article title is for “skinny” recipes,  but skinny doesn’t equal healthy – just sayin.)

Healthy Green Bean Casserole. I don’t consider this recipe to be on the “bad” list because I’ll eat cream of mushroom soup once a year, by golly. But I’m always up for an upgrade and I love Lindsay’s site. Incidentally, Lindsay shares her clean eating food prep each week and has a lot of great posts on the subject. Check out last week’s post here.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes. You know that vegetarian and gluten-free don’t automatically equal “healthy,” right? The recipes in this article get my approval, however, and could even be used for non-holiday meals. Country “Meatloaf” with Golden Gravy, Pan-Cooked Brussels Sprouts with Green Garlic… YUM!

Thanksgiving Reinvented. The ACE Fitness Nutrition Twins give us an entire meal we can eat for about 741 calories – including dessert!

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Round Up and When to Roast Your Turkey. Another Lindsay I’m fond of wrote this great post about a gluten-free and even allergy-free Thanksgiving. It can be done!

Fresh Quinoa “Stuffing” for Thanksgiving (Gluten-Free). An alternative to the usual bready stuffing. Looks delish!

Pumpkin Pie. This pie doesn’t have added heavy cream like a lot of recipes. And check this one out: Banana-infused Pumpkin Pie – unconventional but looks amazing.

What About Healthy Eating When You Travel?

I frequently hear from my clients about the difficulty of eating clean when they travel. And during the holidays, we’re at other people’s houses and attending gobs of festivities. All this irregular eating can wreak havoc on your weight and digestion. We end up feeling bad about ourselves and not fitting into our favorite clothes, which sucks.

Start planning NOW for how you’ll get through the week of Thanksgiving and the numerous party weekends leading up to Christmas. It’s not just a couple of big meals we’re talking about, it’s a season – the extra weight can seriously pile on during this time. So before you travel or hit the parties, think about:

  • What you can eat from restaurants before you go
  • What you’ll bring for snacks when you travel
  • Offering to bring a healthy dish
  • Where the closest grocery store is to your family’s house so you can buy your own food or help cook
  • Eating and drinking water before parties to avoid overindulging

If you’re aiming to eat clean during the holidays, it’s the same basic rule: A little planning can go a LONG way. Let me know how you’re planning on having a healthy Thanksgiving dinner!

This article originally appeared on

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  1. thanks so much for the shoutout! You’re the best 🙂
    Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean recently posted..Weekly Eats 48My Profile

  2. Great links! I usually try to bring a healthy dish, so at least I know there will be one thing that will be good for me. I am also lucky that I don’t like stuffing or gravy, but I make up for it with wanting to eat one of every dessert! It’s definitely a balancing act between a once-a-year indulgence and trying to eat reasonably so I don’t feel crummy afterwards.
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted..A day in the lifeMy Profile

  3. Last year was the first year I did not curl up on the couch with my food baby and fall into a food coma. I am planning to not do that this year too. I am trying a new recipe from Runner’s World – it’s a roasted squash with onion, pecan and craisins side dish. I wanted an alternative to my mom’s oooey gooey sweet potato casserole. I can not wait to try it! Other then that, there is usually a plain string bean option, white meat, skip the gravy and have a sliver of apple pie if I have any at all (because mom’s apple pie is even better then her sweet potatoes!)

    • Well those are freaking awesome ideas Mary! Your squash recipe sounds fantastic. Probably wouldn’t fly around here, and that’s one issue with making healthier dishes, I suppose. I would love to integrate some new recipes and I’m determined to make that happen.

  4. Checking out those vegetarian recipes! Thanks!

  5. LOVE & we all know it is about planning ahead – plan for it & also choices on the treats.. 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted..The Secret to Getting to Healthy & Fit at 56My Profile

  6. I plan on starting the day with a 5k actually 🙂 after that I will do my own baked sweet potato instead of any other potatoes (combining two sides into one) and I have been known to use measuring cups to help.
    Jenn Speer recently posted..Rock and Roll Half Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

  7. I’ve planned ahead this year to include healthy stuff at every course – someone is bringing a tofu meat loaf, kale salad, i’m making vegan sweet potato brownies at dessert, which will also include fresh fruit. hopefully this will counterbalance all of the bad-for-you stuff! 🙂
    Shira recently posted..Three Ways to Identify Your Life’s PurposeMy Profile

  8. I am cooking this year and plan to have both healthy options mixed in with some indulgences. I will also start my day with a run to burn some calories prior to eating. Thanks for all the healthy recipes and articles! Have a greatThanksgiving.
    Toni @ Runninglovingliving recently posted..End Of The Year Goals Focusing on StrengthMy Profile

  9. Great tips!
    It can be so difficult to keep with healthy eating when the holidays roll around.
    I agree! Planning is key!

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