I think, of all the holidays, Thanksgiving and Weight Watchers are the least compatible. I mean, a huge part of Thanksgiving is a gigantic, fattening meal. But, don’t worry, there are ways you can celebrate, enjoy (and still eat) this Thanksgiving and stay on program.
There are a few different areas to look at when it comes to staying on plan for the holidays, and we’ll review them all in this post, including, your mindset, setting goals, tactics to make it through, recipes and of course Points Plus values for our favorite Thanksgiving foods. Let’s get started!
This is the starting point for it all. The thinking you go into a holiday with, determines your outcome. If you’re thinking, I’m going to gain this Thanksgiving, you’re going to end up making choices that help that happen. If you go in thinking, I’m going to have to deprive myself to stay on plan, you’re going to end up not enjoying the holiday because you make choices that lead to you feeling deprived.
How you think about the holiday:
Is your primary focus of Thanksgiving food? If so, is it possible to start looking at some of the other elements of the holiday, and maybe make them more of your focus this year. Family. Gratitude. There really is more to this holiday than a huge table of food, and if you so choose, you can make those things you’re clear focus, which will allow you to lessen your focus on the food.
How you think about the food:
Like it or not, food is part of the Thanksgiving tradition. How we think about that food though, is completely and entirely up to us. You my love pecan pie, I mean like, LOVE LOVE pecan pie. The thing that I love about weight watchers is no one is going to tell you NOT to have a piece of pecan pie. However, it’s up to you to decide what choices you’re going to make. Are you going to have a half a slice of pie, a whole slice, or even the whole pie? Those decisions are yours. I’ve found it helpful to think ahead about the foods that are my favorites, and most important to me. I will not exclude any of my favorite foods, but I am going to be mindful about this: portion size.
By choosing to forgo foods I don’t really care about, or I’m not completely in love with (hello sugared up sweet potatoes), I’m giving myself a little extra room to enjoy the things I do love, without guilt. You love it ALL? Ok… so maybe have a half portion, instead of a whole portion to start. 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes is only 2 points. A half a piece of pecan pie is only 7. You can have it all, but just have a little bit.
The other thing that can help is thinking about how you have the power. You get to choose. It’s not that you CAN’T have any of the foods you see. You can. That’s what makes the plan so awesome. However, you get to choose. When you start thinking about how you’re making choices (and not being limited) it changes the dynamic and can help you feel a lot better about staying on plan.
Which brings me to goal setting.
Goal Setting for the Holidays:
When you step on the scale the week after Thanksgiving what are you going to feel good about? Are you going to be ok with a small gain? Are you going to be ok with staying the same, or do you really need to see a loss for the week? Making this decision and being clear about the decision you’ve made ahead of time will help you make decisions that will support that goal. If you need to see a loss for the week, maybe you forgo the second glass of wine and the pecan pie. That’s 18 points you’re saving right there.
So what’s you’re goal?
If you want to lose for the week, I’d suggest you keep doing things the way you do them any other week. Count your points for the day. Get some exercise in to give yourself some additional activity points to use.
If you’re ok with staying the same, I’d say keep counting your points, exercise to get some additional activity points, and go ahead and use your weekly points as well. That is a LOT of points.
If you don’t mind gaining a little the next week. Just put the points away for the day. But only for the DAY. As my meeting leader likes to say… it’s a holiDAY not a holiWEEK. 🙂 So enjoy the day, but stay on plan the rest of the days of the week.
Now you’ve chosen a goal for your Thanksgiving, let’s jump to some tactics to help you accomplish that goal!
Tactics to Help you Stay on Plan for Thanksgiving
- Measure your portions. I use measuring cups (it’s just family here), but if you’re too embarrassed to do that, you can actually buy the Weight Watchers measured serving spoons. 🙂 There are half cup slotted and non slotted serving spoons as well as a 1/4 cup ladle. (Measuring portions includes wine! A serving of wine is only 5oz)
- Start with half portions, so you get a taste of everything. Go back for another half portion of the things you want more of.
- Use smaller plates. Trick your mind into thinking you’ve got a lot more food than you do by using smaller plates. Smaller plates makes your half portions look a lot bigger too!
- Trade a couple of your traditional high fat side dishes with a more weight watchers friendly version.
- Slow down! Take your time. Savor the flavor, as we like to say here. Put your fork down between bites. Take sips of water between bites.
- Listen to your tummy. It’s the rule we live by here. Just because there is food on your plate doesn’t mean you have to eat it. (even if there are starving children in Africa). Take a moment to check in with your body, how is it feeling? Are you feeling satisfied? Full? Try stopping when you’re satisfied. No one ever said you can’t have more later.
- Have a bowl of 0 point soup before dinner. I know in our house we don’t eat until around 2. Many a year I’ve just “waited” until Thanksgiving dinner to eat. By then I was ravenous, and couldn’t even think about the above 6 tactics. Eat a low or 0 point breakfast, and if you’re going to be eating later in the day, have a bowl of 0 point soup to fill you up. Don’t go to the table starving.
- Bring your own ranch or dip. If you know there will be veggies for snacks, bring your own dip. Regular ranch or ranch type dips use a LOT of points. You can bring your own 1 point ranch and enjoy the 0 point veggies.
- Bring your own dessert. I’m not a huge dessert fan, but it can feel yucky when everyone’s having dessert and you choose not to. Why not bring a more Weight Watchers friendly dessert. I bet there will be others there who will appreciate it as well! This Pumpkin Fluff could easily be made into a no bake pumpkin pie!
- Be grateful. It can be easy to start thinking we’re depriving ourselves when we see amazing desserts, and luscious food all around us. The thing is… if you’re surrounded by tempting desserts and a table full of food you’re a pretty lucky duck. There are many people in the world with nothing. If you find yourself getting grumbly, take a second to think about all you do have, all the choices you have, and simply say a quick thank you. It’s a great way to turn things around.
Thanksgiving Food Points Plus Values
Let’s talk about Points plus values for Thanksgiving foods. Part of making good choices is being aware. By thinking ahead about the point values of the foods you love and want to eat you can create a Thanksgiving Plan for yourself. When you walk into the meal you’ll feel more confident about your ability to stay on plan because you have a personalized plan! So, what are your favorite foods going to cost you in points?
Turkey: 3oz white meat, cooked, no skin: 3 points
Turkey: 3oz white meat, cooked, with skin: 4 points
Turkey: 4 oz leg, cooked with skin: 6 points
Turkey: 4 oz dark meat, cooked, with skin: 6 points
Turkey: 3 oz dark meat, cooked without skin: 3 points
Smoked Honey Ham: 3oz 3 points
Stuffing 1/2 C bread, prepared from mix 5 points
Turkey gravy, canned 1/4 c 0 points
brown gravy 1/4 C 3 points
corn: 1/2 c cooked kernels 2 points
green bean casserole: 1 cup 6 points
sweet potatoes: 1/2 c canned mashed 3 points
cranberry sauce: 1/4 c canned 3 points
mashed potatoes: 1/2 c 3 points
biscuit with butter 1 with 1tbsp butter 6 points
cornbread: 1 piece prepared with 2% milk 5 points
Desserts (Prepared from a recipe)
Apple Pie: 1 slice 11 points
Cherry Pie: 1 slice 13 points
Pecan pie: 1 slice 14 points
Pumpkin pie: 1 slice 8 points
Wine: 5 fl oz (10 oz bumps you to 9 pp) 4 points
Vodka Cranberry: 5 fl oz 5 points
Beer: 12 fl oz, regular 5 points
apple cider: 8 fl oz 4 points
soft drinks: 8 oz (non diet) 3 points
iced tea 8 oz, sweetened 2 points
water 0 points
Diet pop 0 points
So there you have it. You might be having a slight anxiety attack looking at the point values for your favorite foods, but never fear… there are comparable recipes for most everything, that will make your dishes a little more Weight Watchers Friendly
Weight Watchers Thanksgiving Recipes
Weight Watchers Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes: here you’ll find a whole dinner’s worth of recipes, if you’re looking to go traditional.
Weight Watchers Pumpkin Pie recipe, as well as many other alternatives to traditional dishes.
Weight Watchers Stuffing Recipes, as well as a huge list of side dishes and weight watchers friendly desserts.
Weight Watchers Salads and Sides as well as Turkey recipes, and many desserts.
As you can see, if you’re making dinner there are many, many delicious weight watchers friendly recipes for Thanksgiving.
I hope this Weight Watchers Guide to Thanksgiving will help you create a delicious and memorable Thanksgiving meal for you, your family and your loved ones.
May you know peace, love and joy, and stay on plan.
** Affiliate links have been used in this post. This post is also in no way directly associated with or endorsed by Weight Watchers. These are the tricks and tips I’ve learned along my journey using the Weight Watchers program.