Food For Thought

The Thanksgiving Dilemma: How to Portion Control?

Kate Glover, 11/25/2014

It’s that time of year again. Time for family, friends, giving thanks, and, for some of us, eating our way into a food coma!

With so many tempting foods on the Thanksgiving table, it’s often hard to stick with the healthy ones. It’s especially difficult if you’re thinking about health in terms of portion size, when your willpower wavers in the face of one more slice of turkey, pumpkin pie, forkful of stuffing, etc.

But here’s a secret: the beauty of eating a nutrient-rich, plant-strong diet is that you don’t have to worry about portion control.


The tricky thing about so many fad diets is that they’re only effective for the moment. They’re a short-term fix. When people lose weight by eating less of the same junk, shrinking portion sizes, counting calories, or only cutting out the simplest carbs, they usually gain the weight back.

Most fad diets are based on the “restriction mentality,” and you are probably doing more harm than good; you might be depriving your body of the nutrition it needs. Weight fluctuations are also bad for your body and your health. What happens is your body gets confused, physiologically, by the “yo-yoing” up and down. All the readjustments put stress on your system.

So what’s the “ideal” holiday diet?

 Honestly, we don’t need a new diet. What we need is a new way of eating, one that gives our bodies what they need: nutrients. This way, we can maintain a lifestyle that will healthfully nourish us, and that will allow us to live more fully and feel so much better in the long run.

By sticking with a plant-based diet (rich in greens, beans, legumes, fruits, seeds, and whole grains), you don’t have to worry about portion sizes or calorie counting. When your body gets the necessary macronutrients and micronutrients, it will begin to shed the extra weight. You’ll also desire less junk like salt, sugar and trans fats. One tip is to eat the healthy foods first, that way you’ll be less hungry. Eventually, your body finds its natural equilibrium!

You might be thinking, “Yeah, I get it—but there’s still a lot of unhealthy stuff on the table.”

We agree! Just take a look at the Thanksgiving staple food, the basted bird that occupies the largest space on most plates: turkey.  The problem with this big bad bird is that it’s almost all protein, which means it’s packing lots of calories and is low in micronutrients. Not to mention the hormones and antibiotics fed to the birds—go organic if possible.

Will you ruin your body forever if you have a little turkey on Thanksgiving? Of course not. But what else is on the table? Roasted root veggies, homemade salads, natural cranberry sauce, healthy versions of stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, pumpkin soup, healthy pies…

It’s important to enjoy yourself, but by eating these healthy, delicious foods first, you’ll carve out less space for the turkey. And you won’t feel like you’re holding back! Who knows, you might even avoid the food coma!


What are some of your healthy Thanksgiving recipe favorites? Share with us below, we’d love to hear about them!

And if you need some inspiration for easy Thanksgiving recipes, check out the Healthy Food Now Thanksgiving Menu! Happy eating, everyone!


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