Stay active and healthy on Thanksgiving & the Holidays!

The holiday season is almost upon us! It’s a fun time with some great events, but Thanksgiving can be a very tough time to stay healthy. Starting at Thanksgiving, it’s easy to start eating all of the wrong things in copious amounts and not let up until the New Year rolls around. The weather is getting colder, and walking and getting exercises presents new challenges.

Family enjoying Thanksgiving

Believe it or not, it is possible to maintain your healthy habits during the holidays! Instead of going through a holiday binge leading to a New Year’s guilt trip and a whole series of resolutions, make your New Year’s resolutions before the Holidays this year! Use these tips to stay fit and maintain your good habits over the holidays. You’ll have just as much fun, and your body will thank you!

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Maintain Your Healthy Eating Habits

Let’s be honest – there’s going to be a lot of great food available at Thanksgiving. If you don’t have a plan once all of those goodies show up, you’re going to overindulge. It’s actually fine to enjoy your favorite treats! Moderation is key because trying to go cold turkey (pun intended) is likely to drain your willpower and make you unhappy. Here are some ways to enjoy those treats while maintaining the healthy habits you’ve built up all year!

Don’t go hungry

Having a healthy snack before you go out can help avoid bingeing on holiday foods. If you go hungry, you might eat way more than you plan to.

Drink plenty of water

Water at dinner

Drink plenty of water both before dinner and during breaks in the meal. Drinking water helps you feel more full, so you can eat in moderation. Choose plain, sparkling or fruit-flavored water or no-low calorie drinks like tea. You can still enjoy your special drinks, but working in a glass of water (or two) between each can help you limit your intake.

Take breaks!

standing chatting 2

After you finish your first plate, course or helping take 10 minutes to relax. Drink some water, talk to friends or family or engage in some fun activities. It takes time for your stomach to register food and feel full. Taking breaks helps you from scarfing down huge quantities of food before you notice how full you feel.

Start with one!

Couple eating sparingly at Thanksgiving

Start by taking just one piece, slice or a small portion of each dish. We all love to try the variety of foods available during Thanksgiving and the holidays, so it’s tempting to pile your plate full of heaping helpings of food. That first bite is amazing, but you’ll probably find that each additional bite isn’t quite as amazing as the one before. You can always take more if you’re still hungry.

Budget your buffet

Thanksgiving Buffet

Take a good look at all of the food options before you start putting the food on your plate. Pick out your must-try options as well as those that you wouldn’t feel terrible if you skipped. If you try to enjoy EVERYTHING, it will all blur together and you may not enjoy your favorite dish as much. By adding lean protein and vegetables as long with your top one or two delicacies, you can get maximum enjoyment without overeating.

Keep your distance

standing chatting 3

Once you do take your first servings, try moving away from the food table and engaging in conversation or activities in other parts of the room. If you’re having a great conversation, you’ll be less likely to ditch your friend or relative to run over to the food table.

Have fun!

Don’t forget to have fun! Thanksgiving is only one day a year, so you want to enjoy your dinner. You don’t need to deprive yourself completely! Use these tips and focus on having a good time with friends and loved ones.

Maintain Healthy Fitness Habits

It’s equally important to maintain your walking and exercise habits with all of the holiday events going on! You may be traveling, preparing dinners and events and simply be overwhelmed with eating, shopping, and visiting family.

To maintain your walking habits, you may need to adjust your schedule or get creative. It’s much easier to maintain a habit than to build it back up, so do whatever you can to keep up your daily walking even during the holidays. Here are some tips!

Maximize Mornings

Couple taking a daily walk

Try walking in the mornings so that your walking scheduling isn’t interrupted by holiday craziness. Use these important tips and these helpful ideas to make it easier for you to get up and walk. A side benefit is planning a morning walk motivates you to go to sleep earlier and keep healthier habits in general!

Take Walking Breaks

Walking together in a neighborhood

If you’re using our Take Breaks advice from above, why not take a quick walk between dinner and dessert or trips to the buffet. This could be as simple as taking a walk around the house or a quick walk around the block. Even 5-minute walks really add up over time, and can give you some time to digest your food as you walk. It will help get you moving, get those steps in and give your stomach a chance to feel fuller from the food you ate.

Have a Standing Chat

If you’re talking to friends or family, try standing up when possible. You’ll get steps from moving from time to time, and burn more calories than you would if you’re simply sitting down. You may find you feel better and are better company standing rather than slouching down on a couch.

Try Seasonal Exercise

People ice skating in winter

Instead of sitting around watching TV over the holidays, get out and enjoy some seasonal activities! There’s plenty to do wherever you are – from ice skating and sledding to helping the neighbors shovel snow to skiing or other activities. Try to get creative and do some active activities when possible

Explore your surroundings!

If you’re traveling, get out and explore the area! Map out a GPS track or Route of your trip to record where you walked during the holidays. If you’re staying at a relative’s, try going for a walk around the neighborhood. Even better, ask your relative to take you for a quick walk around the area for a fun chat and some extra steps.

Host an active party

You can go an extra step further and actually plan an active party for you and your guests! Make sure to add at least some healthy options to dinner or the buffet. For a fun party, shift the focus of your gathering around an activity instead of around food.

Include healthy options:

Healthy Thanksgiving Options

Try to provide at least some veggie/lean protein options. Vegetable options also help you accommodate vegetarians that may be attending, so it’s a double bonus. Make sure to include your favorites, but try not to add too many desserts. The more food options you put out, the more people tend to eat.

Encourage movement

Dancing at a holiday party

Encourage your guests to get up and chat. Try to make a point of talking to family members you don’t get to chat with on a regular basis. Introducing people to each other is a great way for you to get moving and to get your guests up from their chairs.

Don’t overdo the alcohol

Healthy flavored water

We get it – alcohol is a part of a lot of holiday events. Try not to overdo it, and try to avoid putting alcohol front and center at your event. Alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories and can cause you to eat more than you otherwise would. Make sure to include some non-alcoholic options like flavored water or holiday tea, and consider putting making those the easiest to reach to encourage healthy choices.

Include activities

Food is a huge part of holiday parties, but it shouldn’t be the only thing to do. Try to include some fun activities that your guests can enjoy. This way, they’re still free to eat as much as they’d like there are other things available to take their mind off of eating.

Here are some active party ideas you can try:

  • skiing, ice skating or sledding
  • bowling
  • learning a new dance
  • scavenger hunt.
  • murder mystery dinner event

Keeping the focus of your gathering around something other than food helps curb the desire to overindulge and helps burn up calories as well. What happens when you’re not the host? That’s when you have to step up your game and make the best choices that you can to maintain your healthy habits.


The holiday season is meant to be enjoyed with your friends and loved ones, but it’s important to maintain both your and their healthy habits. Set a good example as a party host, be conscious of overeating and have a plan to prevent it, and stay active throughout the season. Resolving to follow these tips before the season will help you avoid New Year’s guilt and that long uphill battle to get back on track.

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If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.

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