1. Eat a healthy breakfast
Start your day with a healthy breakfast, such as two eggs and whole-grain toast and a side of mixed greens, or any combination that’s high in protein and fiber. Add a smoothie to your healthy breakfast and you’ll be less likely to inhale your plate at the main meal.
2. Don’t go overboard on appetizers
It’s easy to consume 1,500 calories before the turkey even hits the table. But instead of skipping the baked brie altogether, fill most of your plate with vegetables and healthier choices, then leave just a little room for a taste of the indulgent snack. An average serving of dip or cheese is one ounce, roughly the size of your two thumbs.
3. Watch your portion sizes
The average plate is 14 inches wide, and we tend to finish 98 percent of the food on our plate. No wonder it’s easy to eat too much on Thanksgiving! To trick your brain into thinking you’ve eaten enough, use a smaller plate and/or fill half a normal plate with salad. (Just go easy on the dressing!)
4. Enjoy your favorite dishes
One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the memories and traditions of the day. Don’t limit yourself from enjoying your favorite dishes, but only have a small scoop of those that are less healthy. Another option is to practice mindfulness while you’re eating. Don’t munch mindlessly — slow down and really savor and enjoy what you’re eating. Don’t eat out of bags or bowls — put your food on a plate.
5. Try new, healthier versions of your favorite recipes
A trainer I know and her brother created an incredible menu of Thanksgiving recipes for their cooking show that are healthy versions of your favorites. From Green Bean Casserole and Cranberry Sauce to stuffing and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, they’ve got you covered.
6. Cook a better bird
Find a recipe that results in a more flavorful turkey, or cook a different protein — ham, fish, or chicken — that you’ll enjoy on its own, and have only moderate portions of the heavy sides.
7. Get everyone involved
Take some of the pressure off yourself and ask guests to bring a healthy side dish or dessert.
If you think they might be stumped, you could even provide them with a list of healthy side dishes they could make. Going to someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner? Bring a healthy side dish of your own.
8. Go easy on the booze
Limit yourself to one drink before or during dinner and one drink after dinner. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your craving for salt and may set you up to eat 30 percent more than you intended. Get tipsy at dinner and all your inhibitions will be down by the time dessert comes. Two pieces of pie, a couple of cookies, a scoop of ice cream later… and you’ll need a forklift to get you off the couch and a cab to take you home.
9. Forgive yourself
Did you read this and still overeat? Don’t beat yourself up about it; it happened, now move on. Get up and encourage someone to take a walk with you. If it’s too cold for a walk, break out a game of Twister or another fun family workout. Getting moving will ease some of your guilt and also start the digestion process.
10. Remember why you’re there
Between the football game and your sister’s amazing pumpkin pie, take a moment to pause and reflect on what you’re thankful for this year. As tasty as the dishes are, nothing compares to the people we share it with!
For ideas on seasoning your turkey, healthier versions of your holiday favorites or what to do when you read this and still ate too much, leave a note in the comments.