Thanksgiving and Obesity: Know the Link and How to Eat Healthy

Thanksgiving and Obesity

Know the Link and How to Eat Healthy

Thanksgiving and obesity are closely associated. But you can keep away from obesity by following a healthy eating plan.

Thanksgiving and obesity share a very close link. But hey, the fear of weight gain should not keep you away from enjoying the warmth of love and togetherness.

Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness and gratitude. Bingeing on mouth-watering turkey, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie is definitely a treat. Bright smiles on the faces of your loved ones further amplify the taste of the food.

But have you ever thought unhealthy eating during festive season could mean a major blow to your fitness and weight-loss goals? It is now scientifically proven that festive season creates a high-risk environment that promotes weight gain. Even worse, some studies suggest the risk of death due to cardiac arrest rises significantly on certain festive days. For example, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Independence Day.

In this article, you will learn what food choices and lifestyle and healthy eating habits can dramatically reduce the risk of weight gain without affecting your Thanksgiving mood.

The link between Thanksgiving and Obesity Risk: Is it Real?

Why not? It’s not only the mutual love that grows on Thanksgiving holiday but also your weight. Overeating, wrong food choices, poor nutrition, and lack of physical activity can all lead to weight gain. According to the Calorie Control Council, calorie intake of average American increases by 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving.

In 2006, researchers conducted a very interesting study to find out the link between Thanksgiving and obesity risk. The article was published in Nutrition Journal.

No doubt, there have been numerous claims on how festive season could boost obesity. However, most of them are anecdotal and do not get unequivocal support. This 2006 study is one of the limited studies that have attempted to quantify the weight change. According to the study, the participants at the end of the study gained half a kg weight following a Thanksgiving holiday.

So, will a gain of mere half a kg weight mean all your health is gone? Or is this weight gain significant enough to cause major health issues? Definitely not. But what if you are already overweight or obese and you add more weight in the Thanksgiving holiday. Undoubtedly, this means you are inviting a host of health conditions by weighing more.

Avoid the Risk of Weight Gain by Eating Healthy Before and During Thanksgiving

Eating healthy just on the holiday will do little to weight maintenance. For example, if you pour down everything that comes on the way and eat healthy foods on the holiday, can you expect to be healthy?

Thus, it is critically important that you take care of what and how much you eat at least a week before Thanksgiving.

Healthy Eating Tips that You Should Use At Least A Week Before Thanksgiving

  1. Watch how many calories you take every day. If you think you are overeating, cut down on high-calorie items like bread, rice, pasta, and fried chips. Moreover, limit the intake of cakes, pastries, donuts, cheese, pizza, ice cream, fried foods, hot dogs, and bacon. Taking fewer calories before a festive season means you are preparing your body to make it happy with low-energy consumption.
  2. Eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the right time. That being said, never miss any major meal. Missing breakfast means most probably you will eat more in your lunch. Ultimately, this will create energy imbalance and trigger a cycle of overeating, possibly leading to weight gain.
  3. Maintain proper hydration. You might have read somewhere that hydration is important for flawless skin. That’s true but water does more to your system than you can probably imagine. Interestingly, thirst can be mistaken by your brain for hunger. Thus, make sure to drink at least one liter of water every day. If you do not enjoy the taste of water (they say water is tasteless!), you may add lemon juice to it. If you drink alcohol, do not forget to increase the amount of water you take.
  4. Limit the intake of salt, refined sugars, unhealthy fats, red meats, and preservatives.
  5. Stay active. Never forget your daily exercise regimen whether or not it is a festive season. A day of cheat is acceptable but longer breaks from exercise mean you are distracting yourself. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. (We said, you can cheat!)

Eating on Thanksgiving: Never Forget These 5 tips

  1. Take a high-protein breakfast. Starting your day with protein-packed breakfast prevents sharp rise and fall of blood glucose levels. That way, your hunger remains in control and the chances of overeating are significantly reduced. Consider taking baked eggs in avocados with wheat toast, peanut butter, and oats, or cottage cheese with fruit and toast. Other options include peanut butter protein pancakes, high protein vanilla chia pudding and poached eggs with tomato. In any case, make sure that you fulfill your protein requirement without hurting your taste buds.
  2. Eat light lunch. Prepare a protein-rich salad with non-starchy veggies. Here are some veggies to include: tomatoes, bell peppers, radishes, etc. Salmon salad roll-ups make another healthy option for lunch on Thanksgiving.
  3. Exercise. Recall that you cannot move away from your exercise routine because you have an excuse in the form of Thanksgiving. If you are not a gym-junkie, take a 30-minute walk around the places you love. Other exercise options include weight-training (good for muscles and revving up metabolic rate), cardio, and interval training.
  4. Drink Responsibly. We mean don’t overdo on alcohol despite the fact that you are in a mood to enjoy the high. Also, note that alcohol is not free from calories.
  5. Mind your portion size. Simply put, take a small plate for desserts and a big plate for salads.

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” – Oprah Winfrey.

Want to Know More?

To know more about Thanksgiving and obesity link, talk to an expert. Also, know how an individually customized nutrition helps to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Click here to set an appointment today.


  1. Hull, HR., et al. “The effect of the Thanksgiving Holiday on weight gain”. Nutrition Journal. 2006; 5: 29.
  2. Eagle, K. “Hypothesis Holiday sudden cardiac death: food and alcohol inhibition of SULT1A enzymes as a precipitant” Journal of Applied Toxicology.  2012 Oct; 32(10): 751–755.
  3. Schoeller, DA. “The effect of holiday weight gain on body weight.” Physiology and Behavior. 2014 Jul;134:66-9.


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