Thanksgiving Wholefood Survival Guide For The Holidays


Whole Foods Thanksgiving Table

When you are on a whole foods diet, whether you follow the Whole30 diet religiously, or you have your own version of a whole foods diet, holidays can get a little tricky.

While you can still have all the ham and turkey you want, depending on how it is cooked, a lot of the desserts and side dishes are off limits.

This is because with a whole foods diet, the majority of foods you eat are meat and seafood, fruits, and vegetables, with some healthy fats included in there as well.

This means that regular mashed potatoes made with milk, deviled eggs made with mayonnaise, and pumpkin pie are not included in your whole foods diet plan.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a delicious and satisfying Thanksgiving meal with your family.

You just need to adjust how you prepare some of the food items. Starting early is essential to planning and getting ready for a whole foods Thanksgiving meal.

Planning Your Whole Foods Thanksgiving Meal

When you are going to plan a Thanksgiving meal that involves whole foods, you need to get some planning done.

Make sure you don’t rush into the meal planning, or you are going to end up with something that doesn’t fit in with your diet.

Try to give yourself at least a week or two to get ready for the holiday dinner. Know how many people are going to be there and whether or not you want others to bring dishes to the meal.

If your friends and family don’t follow the whole foods diet, make sure they are aware of what you intend to provide.

Communicate With Loved Ones Beforehand

If you are hosting the Thanksgiving meal, most or all of the foods you prepare are probably going to be whole foods.

If you are concerned about friends and family members who don’t follow this diet to not be happy with what you have chosen, it is best to start communicating this ahead of time.

Make sure you take the time to let them know about the whole foods diet your own family sticks to and that while you will try to prepare foods everyone will enjoy, there may be certain Thanksgiving staples not offered.

Since you are hosting, this is completely your choice, but if someone really wants their regular mashed potatoes or stuffing, consider offering to let them bring these dishes on their own.

However, if you are going to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, ask if you can bring a dish or two so that you know of at least a couple things that you can eat while still following the whole foods diet.

Start Working On Your List Early

Another part of planning for your whole foods Thanksgiving dinner is to create a list of foods you will be making and get it ready for the holiday food shopping.

Since shopping for food when you are on a strict diet get a little complicated, you need to have a detailed list so that you don’t end up with extra items you didn’t want or need.

To create your list for the Thanksgiving dinner, make a list of the main course, side dishes, and dessert.

You can then take that list and make sure you find recipes for each food item and write down ingredients for all of the recipes. Check off anything you already have, then create a grocery list with whatever is left.

How to Shop Whole During the Holidays

Having a grocery list is one of the best things that can help you when food shopping time comes.

However, there are also quite a few other things that will be helpful.

With a whole foods diet, you want your family to enough for the holiday season to have a full Thanksgiving dinner reminiscent of a classic dinner, but you also want to remember extra things like snacks and appetizers, and breakfast on Thanksgiving morning.

Also consider who might be coming over to have dinner with you and what they would enjoy eating, even if you get them something special that might not be on the whole foods diet.

These tips will help you get your food shopping done for the holidays while still staying on the whole foods diet:

Bring Your List With You

Now that you have your detailed grocery list, you can remember to bring it with you.

It is essential that you work only from this list and you don’t get anything extra. This can be difficult to do when there are so many other tempting things, but unless there is an ingredient you forgot to put on the list, leave everything else behind and only get what you have written down.

Not only does this allow you to only get approved whole food items, but it helps to manage your food budget for the Thanksgiving dinner a little better.

Only Shop the Perimeter of the Store

This is a good recommendation for any type of special diet or lifestyle choice.

When you want to get only natural, whole, and healthy foods, you typically only need to shop the perimeter of the store.

In the middle aisles, the only thing you should need is the oil section and perhaps the herbs and seasonings if they are not close to the produce.

Most supermarkets keep all meat, seafood, and produce on the edge of the store, which is the majority of the items you will need.

Choose ‘Treats’ That Are Still Whole Foods Friendly

Your family might feel like they are missing out a little bit since it is the holidays and they are still restricted to the whole foods diet.

A good way to remedy this is by including a little treat on your list. Something that you can give them or prepare for them that will remind them of the holidays.

This could either be a special dinner the night before Thanksgiving that is a family favorite, or a pumpkin pie recipe that is Whole30-approved.

Let Your Kids Pick Something Special

Your kids might also feel like they are missing out, so it is a good idea to let them pick something special as well.

Make sure they only get something that is whole food approved and is on your list, or at least something small that is still healthy for them.

This can get them in the spirit of the holidays without going off the whole foods diet.

Finding Holiday Whole Food Deals

You may also want to stick to a strict budget when you are shopping for your Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving meals in general tend to cost a lot of money, even when you don’t have any food restrictions.

However, when you are eating all fresh and whole foods, it can sometimes cost a little more. You are using all high-quality meat and produce, trying to get organic as much as possible.

This can add up if you aren’t smart about it. In order to avoid going bankrupt just to feed your family for the holiday, follow some of these helpful budgeting tips for your Thanksgiving meal.

Check Deals and Coupons While Making Your List

When you are making your list for the Thanksgiving dinner, you should be doing so while you are looking at the deals and coupons from all local supermarkets.

This lets you decide between two recipes that you want to make, but only have the budget for one. You can choose the recipe with more foods or ingredients that are currently on sale.

The week before Thanksgiving usually produces a lot of great coupons on veggies, turkeys, and other similar ingredients, so this will really come in handy when shopping for deals for your holiday meal.

Buy in Bulk When You Can

Buying in bulk is a really good idea when you are going to make food from scratch, especially with everything you need to pick up for your big holiday feast.

Stores like Costco are perfect for buying food that is cheaper in bulk, but that is also high quality. Costco and similar stores are known for having great deals when you buy more.

If you can get 2 hams for the price of one, you can cook one and put the other in the freezer for another time. The same can be said for many of the other ingredients on your list.

Consider Less Quality Meat

In general, when you are on a whole foods diet, you are going to try to get the highest cuts of meat as you can.

This is because you eat so much of it, so you want to eat the best.

However, if you are on a budget, don’t worry about getting the cheaper cuts of meat for your Thanksgiving dinner.

If the regular Butterball turkey is half the price of an organic, free-range turkey, consider making an exception just this time to give you more wiggle room in your budget for the rest of the ingredients you might need.

Make It Fresh

Make Everything From Scratch

You are probably already planning on doing this, but it helps as a reminder: the more food you make from scratch, the more you will save.

Ingredients seem like they cost a lot, but many of the ingredients you buy will last longer than just what you use for holiday dinner.

If you buy seasonings, herbs, oil, or other pantry essentials, you will have plenty leftover for other meals in the future, which means you are saving money just by making these food items from scratch.

Shop Around at Different Stores

There is nothing wrong with buying different ingredients from different stores when you really want to find the best deals.

This might seem like it would use a lot of extra gas, but you can still end up saving money if you do it right.

You need to plan ahead of time and have a really good plan of attack so that you aren’t wasting gas and are actually saving money. Keep in mind that health food stores are often more expensive when it comes to packaged food and meat, but their produce is usually cheaper.

You can save quite a bit by getting your produce at health food stores or farmer’s markets, then getting your meat in bulk from a big box store, and the rest of your ingredients from the supermarket.

Keep Your Meals Simple

If you are really concerned about how much you are going to spend on the holiday meal, don’t try to get fancy or make anything too complicated.

While there are a lot of Thanksgiving dishes that are substitutes for the real thing, they sometimes use a lot of ingredients that aren’t exactly budget-friendly.

Instead of trying to find a dozen ingredients for Whole30 pumpkin pie, consider a different dessert that is a little more simplified and uses ingredients you already have on hand. The simpler the meals are, the less money you are going to spend.

Whole Foods Approved Food List For the Holidays

As you are getting ready to decide on what to prepare for your Thanksgiving meal, it helps to know what the approved foods are.

While you probably have a general idea of what you can have on the whole foods diet since you are likely already on it, it does help to have a list specifically for the

Thanksgiving foods and ingredients. This list includes the meat, vegetables, fruits, and other ingredients that you can use as inspiration for your holiday meal.


Protein is a major component when you are on the whole foods diet, so that is a good place to start.

Most families like to have turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner, and luckily this is something you are free to have while on the whole foods diet.

Just make sure when you are cooking it, you are only using the approved seasonings and spices. Any turkey is fine for Thanksgiving, but for this type of diet, free-range and organic is typically preferred.

If your family is smaller and you like to make a chicken instead of turkey, the same rule applies. On the other hand, if you want to do something a little bit different and have ham instead, try to get grass-fed ham that doesn’t contain any type of hormones.


You can have just about any vegetable you want when you are on the whole foods diet, but you might want to just consider the ones that are in season during the fall.

This list of vegetables includes those that are in season and are really great to add to your Thanksgiving side dishes and courses:

  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Green Beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet potatoes and yams
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Spinach



Some Thanksgiving dishes also call for fruit, whether as an added component for an Autumn salad, or when creating a healthy dessert for after the meal is over.

Some good fruits that are available in the fall and perfect for Thanksgiving include:

  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Apples
  • Cherries


In addition to these ingredients, don’t forget about healthy fats that are allowed for the whole foods diet. For Thanksgiving, you might want to flavor with oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil. Coconut milk and coconut oil, raw nuts, and avocadoes are also allowed.

Whole Food Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

If you still need some more inspiration, you will be glad to know that there are quite a few ways to turn the old unhealthy Thanksgiving favorites into cuisine you can have for your Whole30 holiday dinner.

We aren’t going talk about the turkey, since you already know you can have as much turkey as you want on a whole foods diet! The following dinner ideas include the side dishes for your main meal.


One of the most popular sides to have with Thanksgiving dinner is stuffing.

Since you can’t have bread or grains on a whole foods diet, traditional stuffing is out of the question.

However, you can make an alternative version by using ingredients than you are allowed to have. This stuffing isn’t actually made from any bread crumbs, but instead uses a combination of ground beef and ground walnut pieces that are soaked overnight to make them a big softer.

The taste is delicious and the look is very similar to a real Thanksgiving stuffing.

You should also add some fresh herbs, such as sage, thyme, and rosemary.

Seasonings you can have with this stuffing include sea salt and garlic powder. If you like your stuffing with onions and celery, go ahead and add in those as well.

Cranberry Sauce

Another good side dish to have with your whole foods thanksgiving feast is cranberry sauce.

Luckily, you can have fruit with a whole foods lifestyle, so the main component is going to be allowed.

The thing you don’t want to add is sugar, since this is a big no-no for Whole30 and any type of paleo or whole foods diet.

You should use bags of fresh cranberries that are available in the produce section of your local supermarket, not any frozen or canned cranberries. These are usually very easy to find during the holidays.

If you can make your own apple and orange juice with a juicer, that is definitely recommended.

Otherwise, you can add the juice to your cranberries, but make sure it is pure with no added sugar or preservatives. That is really all you need for a simple cranberry sauce, though you can add in some other seasonings if you like.

Cauliflower Mashed ‘Potatoes’

Cauliflower is perfect when you want mashed potatoes, but you are trying to stay away from white potatoes.

While potatoes are technically allowed with a whole foods diet, many people like to avoid white potatoes while on Whole30.

Cauliflower is an ideal consistency to turn into mashed potatoes with a food processor. You can puree your chopped cauliflower until it looks like potatoes, then mix in your other ingredients.

The other difference to regular mashed potatoes is that you are not going to add in milk and butter.

Instead of dairy products, you are going to make it creamier by adding in some coconut milk and clarified butter or ghee. Olive oil can also be used if you can’t find ghee. For seasoning, salt and pepper, truffle salt, and most herbs are also allowed on the whole foods diet.

Whole Food Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas

When it comes to dessert, it can be a little more difficult to put together desserts that are approved under this diet.

For the most part, your regular desserts when it isn’t a special occasion consists of fruit, since you can’t have ice cream, frozen yogurt, cake or pie.

On Thanksgiving, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and other similar desserts are often served. Since these aren’t going to be an option, you will need to get creative.

But don’t worry; there are plenty of delicious desserts the family will enjoy that taste just like fall. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Seasoned Apples

Apples are one of the most popular fruits for fall, so it makes sense that you would want to use them in your Thanksgiving dessert.

Apples are nutritious, low in fat, and really easy to incorporate into a whole foods dessert option.

This will also take a lot less time than trying to bake a pie from scratch. Seasoned apples can be made any way you like, but using seasonings often used for similar fall desserts is recommended, such as with cinnamon and nutmeg.

A pinch of sea salt adds a nice flavor as well. You can sautee sliced apples in coconut oil on a skillet, the transfer them to a plate and coat with your cinnamon, nutmeg, and any other spices you intend to use.

Pumpkin Bars

Instead of making pumpkin pie, you can use this yummy vegetable to create whole food-approved pumpkin bars.

These pumpkin bars don’t have any ingredients that aren’t approved for the Whole30 diet, plus are paleo-friendly, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

You really can’t go wrong with these. To make pumpkin bars, you typically start with some pumpkin puree, preferably puree you have made yourself.

Add in some pumpkin pie spice, almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and some flour. Coconut flour is usually allowed, along with baking soda and raw walnuts on top.

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Another type of pumpkin dessert you can make for Thanksgiving are pumpkin pie cupcakes.

These use a lot of ingredients found in pumpkin pie without the crust, which is not allowed when you are on a whole foods diet.

You will also want to use pumpkin puree for these cupcakes, along with ripe bananas to make them a little thicker and add some flavor at the same time.

While you can’t use regular table sugar for the cupcakes, you can still use coconut sugar, since it is more natural. Add some nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon to that as well.

Whole Food Thanksgiving Breakfast Ideas

If you like to make your family a nice breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, then you are probably looking for holiday breakfasts that aren’t too difficult to make, use fall ingredients, but are also allowed on the whole foods diet.

These breakfasts fit into all of these categories and won’t make your family feel like they are missing out. Here are some different recipes you might want to make for Thanksgiving breakfast.

Vegetable Hash

Instead of making a traditional breakfast with eggs, hash browns, and processed breakfast meats, you can go with a more natural type of hash.

The difference is that you aren’t using packaged hash browns that are filled with preservatives, are skipping the fattening vegetable oil, and aren’t going to use processed bacon or sausage, which is not usually allowed on the whole foods diet.

Instead, you will start with organic sweet potatoes. You can do half white potatoes and half sweet potatoes if you allow yourself to have white potatoes.

Add plenty of vegetables to the hash, such as onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms.

If you want to add meat to the hash, go with all-natural chicken and apple sausages, such as the ones by Aidell’s, instead of regular packaged sausage. Olive oil should be used instead of vegetable oil.

Pumpkin Custard

If you are looking for more of a pumpkin dessert breakfast, you can make some custard.

This is really delicious, easy to make, and uses ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen since they are commonly used for other fall and holiday recipes on the whole foods diet.

Pumpkin custard uses pumpkin puree, which as a reminder, you should try to make yourself.

Chopped raw nuts, ripe bananas, coconut milk, and pumpkin pie spice are all added. If you have eggs on your version of the whole foods diet, those should be used for the custard as well.

Chicken and Apple Sausage

If you want to do Thanksgiving breakfast truly on the whole foods diet, you won’t get any type of sausage from the supermarket.

Sausage in the package is highly processed and frowned upon, even when it is the all-natural kind.

However, there is a version you can make on your own. You will need your choice of turkey or chicken, along with chopped apple, raw nuts, seasonings, herbs, and coconut oil.

You will combine the ingredients in a bowl, form them with your hands, and heat them up in a skillet to hold the shape.