It is Thanksgiving–it is time for family and time to eat some food! Thanksgiving is really the only holiday that is all about food. You worked really hard on your competition fitness; you don’t want to ruin all you hard work by gorging yourself on holiday food. Thanksgiving is unavoidable, but here are some ways you can make your Thanksgiving dinner healthier so you won’t feel so guilty about holiday treats.

Starting with the star of the show, the turkey. There are tons of ways to cook your turkey, but one way to avoiding adding extra calories is to roast your turkey instead of frying it. I know, I know! Calm down, it will be ok. I love a deep fried turkey just like the rest of us, but by roasting your turkey, you can cut out about 15 calories per ounce. Does not sound like a big difference and you are right. Deep-frying does taste better and the calories are not that bad, but it is higher in fat. If deep-frying your turkey is a deal breaker–that is ok! Thanksgiving has a lot of sides you can cut calories on.

Mashed potatoes.
There are some great alternative mashed potato recipes out there, like using cauliflower instead–which is AMAZING, by the way! If you cannot do away with your mashed potatoes, you can lower the calories by using low fat milk instead of cream or use margarine instead of butter. You can also lower the amount of Russet potatoes you use and substitute butternut squash to make a healthier, but just as delicious, version of traditional mashed potatoes.

Green bean casserole.
This one is easy to make healthier. Simply use a low fat and low sodium cream of mushroom soup, low fat milk and don’t use as many of the pre-made crispy fried onions on the top. You can always turn your oven on to broil after cooking to give the top of your casserole a little crunch. Just by removing the prepackaged crispy fried onion topping, you will cut out 45 calories per two tablespoons. JUST THE TOPPING!

Canned yams with marshmallows. I know a lot of people love this side for Thanksgiving, but you should really consider not making it at all. Canned yams and marshmallows contain a lot of butter, sugar and fat. This dish will ruin any diet. If you really want to cut back, don’t consider this dish an option. I KNOW! Don’t kill me, but it is true. If you must make or consume canned yams, think of this dish more as dessert and really watch your portion size.

There are also some great alternative side dishes that are healthier and just as good. Instead of mashed potatoes, make quinoa. Have a side of roasted vegetables like Brussel sprouts or asparagus. You can also make a salad, and keep your side light and healthy.

Pie is also a big part of Thanksgiving. There are some great low-calorie versions of pumpkin pie you can opt for, or you could just skip the pie all together and make apple crisps or grilled pears. If pie is a must, try using sugar alternatives versus granulated sugar. You can make mini pies filled with yogurt, and fruit on top, and if you cannot live without pumpkin, make pumpkin-flavored pudding with whipped cream on top.

The best way to have a healthier Thanksgiving dinner is to really think about what you can skimp down on and what is a something that you cannot live without. If you love a deep-fried turkey, then go with asparagus instead of a green bean casserole. Can you live without canned yams? Have a salad instead. Switch out mashed potatoes with a baked potato, where you can control the amount of toppings. By making simple changes, you can make any meal healthier. Also, be sure to watch your portion size. Just because it is Thanksgiving does not mean you have to eat the entire turkey. Eat slowly and when you feel full, stop. Plus, it also never hurts to get a good workout in before dinner. Make it fun, and wake up early to take a walk with the family or do a local footrace! Also, remember not to stress: the holidays are about family, so enjoy your day off spending time with the people you love.

What are other Thanksgiving dinner hacks to stay fit for competitions? Tell us what worked for you in the comments!