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8 Tips for Staying Healthy on Thanksgiving

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By: Coach Samantha Bencomo

As the holidays approach, it’s common to see people start to “fall off the wagon”. You’re busy and it’s too cold outside to make it to the gym. Hopefully, you’re not using these excuses and are still keeping your normal routine. I understand there are times when you absolutely can’t do that, but even then there are little things you can do to keep yourself on track and avoid being sucked in to your old holiday habits. More specifically, here are some tips that can help you get through your Thanksgiving dinner without feeling guilty.

1.) Don’t wait to eat!
I know your mentality, don’t eat all day because you want to “save room” for the amazing spread at dinner. A lot of the time, when you’re hungry though, you’re more likely to eat everything and anything in sight. So, my tip is do NOT skip breakfast. Also, try and have a small meal a few hours before dinner if possible. This way, you’re more likely to eat to satisfy your hunger instead of indulging and eating everything in sight.

2.) Drink LOTS of water.
This isn’t just for Thanksgiving. However, since we are on the topic, make sure that you really pay attention to water consumption this day more than usual. A lot of times our body confuses thirst for hunger. Make sure you’ve had plenty of water before serving yourself.

3.) Take a side dish
There are lots of ways to sneak a healthy side dish in without seeming rude or like you don’t want to eat the host’s food. Be polite and say you’d love to bring a side dish. Make sure your side dish is a healthy option. Go for vegetables, breadless-stuffing, or even better, a healthier dessert. Odds are there are a few “healthier” dishes you can find for your meal but when it comes to dessert, you’re a goner! In advance, you’re welcome for the Paleo Pumpkin Pie recipe I provided at the bottom 🙂

4.) Serve yourself.
The host, your grandma, your spouse, etc. might try serving your plate that day because you work too hard and they just want you to relax. Well, insist on serving yourself! If you’re really feeling the holiday cheer that day then offer to serve them too! This allows you to control your portions and not load your plate with too much food that you’ll force yourself to eat…”there’s starving kids in Africa so I NEED to finish this pie.” Don’t be that person.

5.) Make smart decisions.
When it comes to selecting foods, be smart. Go for the white meat instead of dark meat, serve yourself the salad that no one is touching, pick the oven roasted potatoes instead of the mashed potatoes that are loaded with butter, choose more vegetables than protein, and try to skip the gravy.

6.) It’s okay to be normal.
It’s Thanksgiving and I’m not here to tell you how horrible of a person you are if you eat your grandmother’s homemade apple pie. I’m actually telling you the opposite. It’s OKAY to splurge a little. Keep in mind I said “a little.” If you did a good job of choosing a decent looking plate for dinner then go for the dessert. Like I’ve said before, go for the healthier option. If you brought a healthy dessert, then that’s even better!

7.) Don’t sleep right after.
I can see it now. Post-dinner, loosening that belt buckle, laying on the couch, before you know it, you’re out. Yes, turkey contains tryptophan, a natural sedative. However, you had more veggies than turkey so you didn’t over indulge, right? If you ate appropriate portions then you shouldn’t feel lethargic. What happened to throwing the old pigskin around after dinner? Get your family together and do something fun after. Pick a game like charades or something that keeps you all moving. Give your body some time to digest the food before you fall asleep.

8.) Don’t forget to WOD
The holidays seem like a perfect excuse to ignore your old gym routine. No matter how hard it is to get to the gym, get there! Remember, it’s always harder to get back into a routine than to keep one. Even if you can’t make it in, do something at home. There are home-workouts posted at the gym each week. Copy them down on your way out so you can use them for days like these!

I know eating healthy is easier said than done, but if you can implement at least a few of these rules it’ll help you get through the holidays without having to trade in your jeans for stretchy pants. We aren’t aiming for a strict, whole30 style Thanksgiving, instead, just a healthier Thanksgiving than you’re used to. Trust me, you’ll feel better when you get back to the gym the following Monday!

Here are a few recipes you can use as alternatives to some of your Thanksgiving favorites:


Photo Credit:

1lb ground sausage
5 pieces of thick-cut bacon (diced)
2 tbsp. grass-fed butter
2 garlic cloves (sliced)
1c sweet potato (diced)
1c yellow onion (diced)
½ mushrooms
5 stalks of celery (diced)
2 granny smith apples (diced)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup dried cranberries
½ c walnuts (chopped)
½ c pecans (chopped)
2 eggs, beaten
½ c chicken broth


1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake sweet potatoes for 15-20 minutes until tender and slightly brown. Set aside and let potatoes cool.
2. In large pan, cook bacon and drain grease when bacon is halfway cooked.
3. Melt butter in a pan and add onions and garlic.
4. Add celery, apples, and mushrooms and cook for about 4-5 minutes until onions become translucent.
5. Add sausage and cook until medium-well.
6. Drain extra grease, place in bowl and set aside.
7. In a small bowl, beat eggs. Add eggs to chicken broth.
8. Combine sweet potatoes, nuts and berries, and sausage mix and pour eggs and chicken broth over. Mix until combined but do not over mix.
9. Place in a baking dish and bake for 15-18 min.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Photo Credit:



Pie Crust:
1¼ cups blanched almond flour
⅓ cup + 2 Tablespoons tapioca flour / starch
¾ teaspoon finely ground sea salt
¼ cup palm shortening
1 large egg

1 (15 ounce) canned pumpkin puree
3 eggs
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon sea salt


For crust:

1. Place flour and salt in food processor and pulse briefly.
2. Add coconut oil and egg and pulse until mixture forms a ball.
3. Press dough into a 9-inch pie dish.
4. Bake at 350° for 8-12 minutes.
5. Set aside and let cool for 5-10 min.

For filling:

1. Combine pumpkin puree, and eggs in a food processor.
2. Add in coconut milk, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt
3. Pour filling into crust.
4. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes
5. Allow to cool then refrigerate for 2 hours.