Thanksgiving How To-6 Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain by Lisa Danielson

There are many things to love about the holidays: family gatherings, presents under the tree, and yummy food everywhere you turn. Did you know that the average American gains between 5-7 pounds during the holiday season? For example, if you were to have average servings of sweet potato pie, turkey and a slice of pecan pie you are more than likely consuming over 1600 calories, and that’s not even counting the cheese ball, glass of wine or mixed nuts you sampled before you sat down to eat Thanksgiving dinner.  In order to burn off all those calories you would need to run about 16 miles. I don’t know about you but I have run 16 miles before and it is not that fun. However you can be strategic when planning your holiday menu and party gatherings in order to keep that summer bod in check. Even though there might be snow on the ground, swimsuit season is only six months away. Here are a few tips and tricks to stay on track so those skinny jeans will just slide on.

  • Even though Thanksgiving dinner is only one meal, try to be smart when filling your plate. Feel free to pile on the crudités, salad, fruit and light turkey meat. Stay away from the green bean salad (those fried onions are really high in calories) anything fried and watch your bread intake. A good trick I learned is to only put two things on your plate at a time. Studies show that variety stimulates appetite, so you will consume less calories than if you take a few bites of many dishes.

  • Get moving! Don’t skip the gym just because it is a holiday. Many gyms have fun “turkey burns” or other types of motivational classes during the holidays. Even on Christmas when everything is closed, I love going on a brisk walk and getting some fresh air.  I have found that it is much easier to squeeze in my workouts first thing before the chaos begins. Exercise also helps the mind make healthier food choices, so you can start your day off with a healthy breakfast.

  • Don’t skip meals. Try to eat sensibly leading up to a big meal. Make sure to get enough protein before as well.  This will help keep you full longer and curb your cravings. The easiest way to do this is to drink a simple protein shake before you head out the door. Focus on getting between 20-30 grams before the meal.

  • Choose wisely. It’s ok to be picky. I like to try to healthiest food at the table and eat that first. Then I pick out one or two things I want to indulge in and have a very small serving of each. There is nothing worse than wasting calories on something that turns out isn’t that good. Quality over quantity.

  • Don’t drink your calories. Alcoholic beverages, fruity punches, and spicy ciders are loaded with sugar and very high in calories.  If you want to have a drink just make sure to alternate with water in between each drink. And if you want dessert maybe put down that cup of cider. Sugar is sugar whether it is liquid or not.

  • Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things! Try making your favorite dish without the extra fat or sugar. Bake the turkey instead of frying it, use whole grain rolls instead of white, or try making your favorite dessert using healthier oils such as coconut or olive oil.

When its comes to Thanksgiving dinner I like to think out of the box a little bit. I don’t love sweet potato pie, but I sure do love sweet potatoes, and in this recipe I am sharing, you will never want to go back to the traditional sweet potato dishes. It even has kale in it…. I know I know, I said kale. But hang tight…..

Kale Sweet Potato Salad is going to change your mind about the way you think about Kale.

“I hate kale” is an expression I hear often. Here’s the thing about kale, its fibrous, earthy, and does not taste like bacon or chocolate. Therefore people are against it. Even blending it in smoothies doesn’t really hide its crunchy texture. The secret to making kale taste great is making it flavorful while also softening the texture.

When I make a kale salad, I usually pour the dressing on the night before, or even a few hours before serving it. This helps break down the fibers in the kale and soften the texture. This recipe is hands-down the best kale salad that is a crowd pleaser! Even those who “hate kale” love this salad, and even beg me for the recipe after they taste it.

Kale Sweet Potato Salad


    • Salad:

    • 2 sweet potatoes, diced

    • 2 TBSP olive oil

    • salt and freshly cracked pepper

    • 1 cup (dry) Israeli couscous, cooked according to package directions (also called pearl)

    • 3 cups finely chopped kale leaves

    • 1/3 cup dried low sugar cranberries

    • 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds

    • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

    • Dressing:

    • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

    • 2 TBSP olive oil

    • 2 TBSP orange juice

  • salt and pepper to taste


    1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss potato in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in on baking sheet for 20 minutes or until browned. Cool

    2. Place kale, couscous, cranberries, almonds, feta, dressing, and potato in bowl. Toss well.

    3. Serve chilled or warm. Will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Lisa Danielson, aka Veggie Lisa is a wife of 18 years and a mother of 4 children ranging from 15-6. At one point in her life she weighed 200 pounds. After tweaking her diet to include more plant based protein sources, she was able to lose almost 60 pounds. As a life long vegetarian, she has a passion for vegetables and loves teaching others how delicious they can be! She graduated from BYU with a degree in Dance Education, is an ISSA Fitness Nutrition Specialist, a Certified Personal Trainer, a Corrective Exercise Specialist and teaches High Fitness. She  is the head nutritionist for a major protein supplement company and also helps her personal clients reach their weight loss goals. And come this December she will be a published author! Her motto is eat good, feel good, look good!

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