How to Have a Healthier Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for food, festivities and football. It’s the time for turkey and stuffing, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, green beans, and mash potato – basically all the good stuff. But all that good food totals to almost 2 or 3 times the calories you need for the day. That’s a definite diet buster indeed!

According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American consumes a whopping 3,000 - 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day! That’s not even half of it. We consume bigger portions sizes than we normally would too.

So here are our tips and recipes for making Thanksgiving Day a little bit healthier.

5 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

  1. Substitute unhealthy dishes for healthier versions – You don’t have to have Thanksgiving sans the sides, just choose healthier options with less fat, calories, and carbs. Instead of adding in extra butter and sour cream to your mashed potatoes, substitute with low-fat sour cream or use cauliflower instead of potatoes for your main carbohydrates. One cup of cauliflower has only 5 grams of carbs instead of 30 grams for 1 small potato.
  2. Drink water before and during your meals – Water helps you feel full. You will end up eating less than you normally would if you drink before and during your meal.
  3. Don’t overdo the alcohol – That festive Thanksgiving punch can have as much as 300 or more calories for a glass. Try to stick with just one glass or drink more water. But if you still want to drink alcohol during your meal, one glass of wine has 123 calories.
  4. Don’t skip breakfast or lunch – If you’re having your Thanksgiving meal later in the day, try to eat small healthy meals before. If you skip meals you’ll be ravenous when the main meal begins. You’ll also more likely overeat if you skip meals.
  5. Be mindful of what you’re eating – We tend to pile on the food at first but the smarter way is to sample small portions of the main dish and sides without going overboard. Also, if you can, try to avoid having seconds. You can use our tips on how to prevent from overeating here.


Healthy Thanksgiving Sides Recipes

You don’t have to sacrifice flavor. Try these healthy and tasty Thanksgiving dishes instead of the usual.

Cauliflower Mash – 120 calories per serving

One serving of mashed potato can have at least 214 calories and even more if you load up on butter. But this low-carb cauliflower mash from Steamy Kitchen has only 120 calories per serving.

Boil the cauliflower florets of 1 cauliflower head in 2 cups of water for about 12 to 15 minutes until very tender. Drain the florets and dry them off with a paper towel. The drier they are the more they’ll absorb the liquid you add in later.

Add 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon butter, 2 tablespoons light sour cream, garlic salt and pepper. Mash the cauliflower and the ingredients well until smooth. Sprinkle chopped chives.

Mushroom & Leek Stuffing - 150 calories per serving


We love oyster stuffing and sausage stuffing but they can range from 180 to more than 200 calories for a half cup serving. This Mushroom stuffing from Clean Eating Mag has 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 28 grams of carbs and zero cholesterol for a half cup serving!

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut whole-wheat sourdough or regular whole-wheat into cubes. Bake for 10 minutes and transfer to a large bowl. In a skillet, sauté sliced Portobello mushrooms in ½ tablespoon of olive oil until lightly browned. Remove the mushroom and add to the bowl with bread. Sauté the carrots, celery and leeks using ½ tablespoon of oil until lightly browned. Add these to the bread and mushroom mixture. Add 1 teaspoon each of onion powder, chili powder, dried rosemary, and freshly ground pepper. Add in 1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme and ½ cup low sodium chicken broth.

Sir the ingredients and let cool completely before stuffing turkey. If you prefer to serve this separately, bring the oven temp to 400 degrees F after you finish cooking the turkey. Bake for 20 minutes covered in foil then remove the foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more to crisp up the top. If you want, you can also add in some dried cranberries to the top.

Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes - 92 calories per serving

This healthier alternative to the regular sweet potato casserole from Eating Well has 92 calories instead of the 267 calories per serving.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture on cubed sweet potatoes and coat evenly. Cover the sweet potatoes with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover, stir and bake for 45 to 50 minutes stirring every 15 minutes.

Low-Calorie Pumpkin Pie – 137 calories per serving


One slice of pumpkin pie can have at least 323 calories! This low-cal pumpkin pie from Skinny Taste has only 137 calories per slice and even less if you make it crustless.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degree F. Roll out pie crust so it’s thin enough. Your final crust should be just 5 oz. Place the thin crust in a pie dish and cut off the excess.

Place 15 oz canned pumpkin puree in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons softened whipped butter and mix well. Mix in ¾ cup brown sugar, ½ cup fat free milk, 1 large egg, 2 large egg whites, ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, half teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Pour the filing in the unbaked pie crust and bake for 70 to 75 minutes until done. Test the pie for doneness by inserting a knife or toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean, the pie is done.

Cranberry-Prosecco Cocktail – 170 calories per serving


This fruity cocktail from Eating Well is a better alternative to most creamy calorie-laden cocktails.

Combine 1 chilled 750 ml bottle of Prosecco with 1 cup chilled cranberry juice. You can choose the unsweetened variety and sweeten with fruit juice or stevia. Pour into champagne flutes and garnish with cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.

Cleansing After Thanksgiving

Detox and cleanse after that hearty Thanksgiving dinner by going on the Simply Slender detox and cleanse diet. Choose between our 24 Hour Simply Slender Charcoal Lemonade Diet or our 48 Hour Simply Slender Diet. Grab a bottle or two today!


"Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” Recipe" - Steamy Kitchen
"Mushroom & Leek Stuffing" - Clean Eating Mag, April 1, 2013
"Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes" - Eating Well
"Skinny Pumpkin Pie" - Skinny Taste, October 31, 2015
"Cranberry-Prosecco Cocktail" - EatingWell
"How Many Calories Americans Will Eat on Thanksgiving" - ABC News, November 23, 2016
"How Many Calories Are in Thanksgiving Dinner?" - Consumer Reports, November 20, 2017
"Potato" - Wikipedia
"Cauliflower" - Wikipedia