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Giving Thanks Without Over-Doing It (Thanksgiving Nutrition Tips)

Oh yes, it’s that day again.

The day where, whether you like it or not, you’re expected to chow down with reckless abandon.

Yep, Thanksgiving is a day where overeating is accepted and encouraged openly. And while one meal of overeating is not going to drastically change your health, it does kick off the holiday months with quite a bang. For some, this triggers unhealthy habits that lead to holiday weight gain.

But, there is another way.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to share some Thanksgiving nutrition tips. 

Tips for giving thanks without over-doing it:

1. Eat the right breakfast.

And no, that does not mean eating something “light” like oatmeal or cereal or fruit. (Or, God forbid, juice!)

If you make the healthy breakfast mistake, you’ll pay the price later.

On the other hand, if you eat a solid breakfast, you’re less likely to overeat throughout the rest of the day and there’s loads of research to back this up.

Need ideas? Check out this post for *actual* well-balanced breakfasts.

2. Don’t starve yourself all day to “save up” for the big feast.

When you ignore your hunger cues, you teach your body to ignore your fullness cues. <– Tweet that!

So guess what? All those calories you thought you were saving will be consumed plus some by the time you’re done at the table. But you’re not still playing the calorie game, are you?

Start with a protein-rich breakfast, then eat whenever you’re hungry throughout the day leading up to the meal. I promise, showing up to the meal not starving is a good thing!

3. Take your time and CHEW.

If you really want to enjoy the meal, slow down! Savor every. single. bite. Notice the flavors, textures, and aromas of the meal in front of you. Perhaps even put your fork down between bites because everything tastes soooo good!

Not only will this help your body register that you’re full (before you’re reached the “point of no return”), but this will give your digestive system a head start to start in breaking down and absorbing all the cooked-with-love goodness you’ve eaten.

Don’t know when you’re full? Then you might like to learn a little trick I call the Hunger Awareness Exercise before the big day.

I’m not saying a little overindulgence is a bad thing. But with practice, you can become more mindful of how your body feels.

Who knows? You might end up feeling more content being able to actually walk after the meal (and having delicious leftovers the next day) than you would being stuffed-silly. Maybe not, though, and that’s ok too.

4. Avoid food coma.

No, it’s not from the typtophan in turkey that leads to the classic post-Thanksgiving food coma; it’s actually the result of high blood sugar from overeating carbohydrates.


Go easy on the carbohydrates and starchy foods. (Read: potatoes, sweet potatoes/yams, stuffing/dressing, corn, macaroni, winter squash, peas, beans, rolls/bread, dessert).

Instead of loading up your plate with every side dish, choose your favorite to indulge in. Don’t feel like you have to eat the sweet potatoes if you hate them.

5. Load up on vegetables.

Ideally, make non-starchy vegetables half of your plate. They fill you up without spiking your blood sugar and naturally displace a lot of other less-healthy options. (Personally, I think they are super delicious, too – as long as they are prepared well!)

If you need a healthy side dish, check out my recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts or one of the other vegetable recipes on my site. (psst – Roasted Brussels Sprouts are extra delicious if you add bacon and pecans!)

Need more recipe inspiration? Grab a free copy of Healing Meals for Winter and try out one of the many veggie-packed recipes for the big day.

And finally, instead of making this a time of year where you yo-yo from restricted diet to cookie plate and spend more time resenting yourself, take time to thank your body.

Really. I’m serious.

Give thanks to your body for being there for you, despite whatever problems you perceive to have or little things that you knit-pick. At the end of the day, your body still supports you and facilitates all the good things in your life.

When you are consciously supportive of your body and your health, you will naturally choose to have 1 piece of pie instead of 3 and not because you know it’s “healthier”, but because you physically feel better.

Self acceptance also means that occasionally indulging in a treat is perfectly normal and should not bog you down with feelings of guilt.

With that, go forth and enjoy your Thanksgiving meal and all the holiday festivities!

But, before you go, I’d love to know:

  • Which of the above tips you will put into action on Thursday?
  • What are you thankful for?

Until next week,


PS – Bonus tip!!! If you struggle with indigestion, make it a point not to drink a bunch of water/beverages with your meal. Your tummy will thank you! (Want to know why? Read this.)

Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

Your guide to making vegetables taste seriously good

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


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  1. Great post! I really loved these tips — very practical and helpful. I’m sharing this on my blog today 🙂 I also really love the tip to be thankful for your body. I didn’t understand how important this is until last year, after I gave birth to twins. That experience made me realize just how miraculous my body is. I created two human beings! At once! With my body! And I was able to carry them to full term, then give birth, then care for them — with my body! It is a mind-blowing miracle that’s hard to comprehend. I will never again be upset at myself for not looking a certain way or being a certain shape. I absolutely love my body and all it can do, and I know that if I want it to do more, my miraculous self can accomplish those goals too.

    • I love your perspective, Lindsay. And yes, your body is AMAZING! To grow and nourish not one, but two human beings? That’s certainly something to celebrate. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 🙂

  2. i love it lily its a great post,i admire your courage lily.i learnd smething new today to just love and respect my body its awesome,happy holidays lily

    • Happy Thanksgiving, Segnorine! Love your body and it’ll love you back.

  3. I’m thankful for Lily Nichols in my life!

    • As I am for the Dana in mine. 😉

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