10 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success this Thanksgiving BEFORE You Set the Table

Steam swirls overhead as a symphony of aromas dance around the dining room table. Mouthwatering roasted turkey awaits your carving while scrumptious stuffing and creamy mashed potatoes are ready for devouring. Ah, Thanksgiving. Dieters who enjoy “Cheat Days” are definitely grateful for this food-filled holiday. Unfortunately, this “Cheat Day” can turn into a “Guilt Day.” Thanksgiving is a day to enjoy time with loved ones, experience the flavors of the season, and express gratitude for our lives. Sadly, with the shaming “Diet Culture” and Black Friday bleeding into Thursday, Thanksgiving has become a day gluttony and guilt.

At Nutrition Factors we want to make meals matter again, especially Thanksgiving. That’s why we’re revolutionizing the “Diet” industry by making nutrition fun and practical without the false “quick-fix” claims or the harmful “bad food” mentality. We want you to enjoy time with your family along with a Thanksgiving feast. So, we’ve put together 10 tips and tricks to truly make the most of Thanksgiving. Plus, we’ve included some of our favorite holiday recipes. Your taste buds and loved ones that you share these recipes with will definitely be grateful!


It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without expressing gratitude and reflecting on the things you’re thankful for, right? Having an attitude of gratitude can, thankfully, do wonders for both your mental and physical health, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but also all year round. From snoozing to sadness, gratitude has been shown to make a difference in both mental and physical health. Findings from a longitudinal study published in Health Psychology in February 2017, state that “Gratitude uniquely predicts lower depression in chronic illness populations.” Where another study in 2009 found that gratitude positively impacts the duration and quality of sleep. Having a thankful heart this Thanksgiving can strengthen you mentally and physically as well as keep you in a positive mood.

Plan “Me-Time” Ahead of Time:

From the moment you wake up to when everyone gathers around the dinner table, you may have a busy day ahead of you. With the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to get caught up worrying about how the turkey turns out or fretting over how to make the place settings look like Pinterest. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead so you make sure not to neglect yourself. Don’t skip breakfast (in fact, start your day with this recipe for Pumpkin Pie Pancakes). Then, don’t be so focused on trying to please everyone else that you neglect to pay attention to your own needs. Periodically throughout the day, make sure to set aside time to relax, meditate, or whatever it is you do to express to your body that you’re grateful for it. By treating yourself to these moments of “me-time” you will have more energy and enjoy the moments that matter more. Therefore, make time for self-care to get in the right mindset so that those situations that would otherwise be stressful can turn into opportunities for fun memories.

Get Outside:

Enjoying the outdoors with loved ones on Thanksgiving can help you make the most of the holiday by adding some physical activity to your day. From a game of family football to a walk around the block, breathing in the crisp autumn air will make you feel energized and invigorated. There are many benefits to the great outdoors, and nature provides so many beautiful things to enjoy so make sure to get outside and feel the fallen leaves crunch under your feet. Exercise is also a great way to burn off some of the extra calories that go hand in hand with holiday feasts.


Get your Martha Stewart on and decorate like a boss! Research DIY decorations and activities to keep the kids occupied and make your home festive. By decorating your home, you can make Thanksgiving personalized to your style while having some fun.


Remember that today is to be enjoyed. Take a deep breath and try not to sweat the small stuff. Do one thing at a time and fully love it. While you’re brushing your teeth, refrain from thinking about what you have to do next and just simply brush your teeth. Feel the bristles swoosh over your teeth and notice how your mouth feels when you’re done. When you’re driving around, be aware of your surroundings, take your time, and enjoy the ride instead of frantically fretting over traffic or running late. Let each moment happen and live it. By living your Thanksgiving one moment at a time, you’ll even enjoy the washing the overflowing mountain of dinner dishes in the kitchen sink. By being mindful you won’t worry about washing the dishes until you’re actually washing them. Ask someone to dry the dishes as you wash and chat about the day. Live in the moment and make the most out of each task, bite, and conversation as they happen.

Make a Choice:

We’re so proud to say that Nutrition Factors is not like those “fad diets” or “weight-loss plans” of the past. We’re all about healthy living, and we believe that part of having a balanced lifestyle is enjoying what you put in your body from fork to beyond the bite. We empower people in making the choices that they want instead of starving themselves just to give into impulses like binge eating the whole pumpkin pie.

Here at Nutrition Factors, we want you to feel satisfied, energized, and enjoy your life. We’re huge fans of meal planning (as you can tell from the revolutionizing GRID DIET) because, as Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Set yourself up for success by making your choices ahead of time. Which dessert are you looking forward to most? What do you want your dinner plate to look like? How do you want to feel after the party? Think ahead so you can decide what you really want and enjoy every single beautiful bite, shame-free.

Serve Others:

Serving others is a wonderful way to put into practice your intention to be grateful for what you have while uplifting others. Check out JUST SERVE  or VOLUNTEER MATCH to find a volunteer opportunity in your community. You could also share your Thanksgiving meal with a family in your neighborhood that may need a helping hand or donate to your local food bank.

Games & Activities:

From Thanksgiving themed charades to your family’s favorite board game, there are a lot of ways to have fun this holiday. For charades with a Thanksgiving twist, write down various words associated with the holiday on small pieces of paper, fold them, and put them in a bag. The words can be anything you can think of from the more obvious “Turkey” and “Pumpkin” to “Wishbone” and “Pilgrim.” Take turns drawing words from the bag and pantomiming or acting out the word without speaking until someone guesses the Thanksgiving term correctly. There are so many activities with a holiday spin online so if you’re struggling thinking of Thanksgiving terms for your game of charades, a quick search online with lead you to more words and more games to play.


“Why did the turkey refuse dessert?” Because “He was stuffed.” You may not have room for popcorn after your Thanksgiving feast, but there’s always room for fun and laughter. Thanksgiving is a fun time to start crossing off a movie from your favorite holiday film list. From “A Christmas Story” to “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” movies can bring people together and make us laugh. Choose your favorite holiday comedy to have some downtime after the meal that continues to cheer everyone up.

Call Someone You’ve Lost Touch With:

Reach out to your old friends, family on the other side of the country, and the mentors that have helped make you who you are. Give someone you care about a call and let them know that you’re grateful for them. Take time to be curious and listen when you ask them how they’ve been. By taking this opportunity to reconnect, you can also reminisce as well as have more clarity about your growth and progress since the last time you spoke.

We hope that these 10 Thanksgiving “To-Do” suggestions will make a difference for you by helping you get in an attitude of gratitude and create a less stressful and more enjoyable holiday.

Now for the goodies. It’s Thanksgiving after all, so here are some of our favorite recipes with their own unique Thanksgiving twist:

Pumpkin Soup:

Warm, creamy pumpkin soup. This rich recipe makes a wonderful Thanksgiving first course or is a fantastic lunch menu item to hold you over until it’s time for dinner. CLICK HERE for more recipe instructions and information.

1/2 tbsp. butter
4 cans pumpkin puree
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup milk
A dash of salt and pepper

Kale and Quinoa Sweet Potato Salad:

This NC SweetPotato Commission recipe makes a delightful salad with sweet potatoes, kale, and quinoa. CLICK HERE for recipe details.

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup uncooked white quinoa
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
4 cups kale, torn into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
3 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature

Brussels Sprout Salad:

Tossed in pure virgin olive oil and roasted to perfection, this recipe is bursting with flavor. Bake sweetened dried cranberries, along with the Brussels sprouts to blend these fall flavors. You can also substitute fresh cranberries for the dried cranberries which will the dish more tart. 

2 cups Brussels sprouts
1/8 cup walnuts
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Salt and pepper to taste


Apple-Almond Pie

This Michigan Apples Apple-Almond Pie is sure to satisfy with baked apples and slivered almonds. CLICK HERE for more recipes directions.

3/4 cup (3 1/2 oz.) slivered almonds, ground
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 tbsp margarine, melted
1 egg
1 unbaked 9-inch pastry crust
4 cups sliced, peeled Michigan Apples
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. grenadine syrup

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