I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday planned. We were in Paris last year for Thanksgiving (a few pics here). I have spent countless Thanksgivings covering Cowboys games (their spread is fabulous, btw). We'll be home this year spending it with the family.
Thanksgiving tends to kick off the holiday eating season. If you're not careful, you can pack on a few pounds during the final six weeks of the year. To avoid doing that, here are a few diet strategies that can help you survive and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner without wrecking your healthy eating plan.
RELATED: 5 Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
10 Thanksgiving Diet Tips
1. Don't Starve Before You Feast
Starving yourself all day in anticipation of a huge Thanksgiving feast is a bad idea. It sets you up for failure and overeating. Instead, have a good breakfast that features a nice bit of protein and some fiber: scrambled eggs with vegetables, a hard boiled egg with berries, unsweetened oatmeal with peanut butter, chopped apples and cinnamon.
A nice breakfast (or early lunch) takes the edge off your hunger and doesn't have you arriving at the Thanksgiving table famished.
Drink 16 ounces (one big glass) of water before your Thanksgiving meal. A recent study in Obesity showed that drinking water before a meal can result in consuming less calories during the meal. Water provides a sense fullness and takes up volume in your stomach leaving less room for empty calories.
3. Go Green Or Yellow, Orange, Purple....
While I will be attacking that Mac N'Cheese and sweet potato casserole like shoppers at the opening of Wal-Mart on Black Friday, I will be also having a big salad and a side of a somewhat healthy veggie (this cauliflower recipe looks amazing). Just because you're indulging doesn't mean you shouldn't eat some produce. The healthy produce also helps fill you up on the good stuff so you don't overindulge on the buttery carbs.
4. Make Healthy Swaps When You Can...And If You Want To
Look, no one is telling you to change Aunt Eileen's famous stuffing recipe. Go ahead and throw that stick of butter in there but when the opportunity presents itself, you can make some easy recipe swaps that won't alter the taste of the original recipe yet will save you a few extra calories.
- Try fat-free chicken broth to baste your turkey and gravy.
- Try applesauce in place of oil in baked goods.
- Use a sugar substitute, if you're okay with that.
- Reduce the oil and butter when you can. You rarely need as much as a recipe calls for.
- Try plain yogurt or fat free sour cream in dips and casseroles.
There are some things that just aren't worth the calories. White rolls? Meh. Jalapeno cornbread? Now, we're talking. The point here is that you shouldn't waste calories on things you don't love. I, for example, loathe green bean casserole with crunchy onions but will go to town on roasted sweet potatoes. I may have just a bite of the casserole to "try it" for the family member who made it and then move on. You can do the same. No one's feelings will get hurt.
6. Practice Portion Control
The great thing about Thanksgiving is the abundant food offerings. Take tiny samples of everything you love. Think small. When it comes to the turkey and "big ticket food items" try to keep the portions in check. This tweet from the Cooper Institute is a good one.
7. Watch The BoozeTwo Days 'Til #Thanksgiving! Take palm-sized portions to taste everything & control calories. #HealthierHolidays pic.twitter.com/R6BF4c5Fq6— The Cooper Institute (@CooperInstitute) November 24, 2015
Look, I know some of you are thinking there's no way you can get through Uncle Myron's loud mouth at the table without a little bit of booze but don't overdo it. Drinking too much lends itself to eating too much. Have that glass of water, followed by a glass of wine (sipped slowly), followed by another big glass of water. Try to stick to the two-drink rule. Hard to do during the holidays, I know, but your waistline and hangover-free head will appreciate it.
8. Eat Slowly And Enjoy Dinner
While the food is a star attraction on Thanksgiving, the holiday is about getting together with loved ones. Take time to talk and enjoy each other's company. Put your fork down between bites. This forces you to eat more slowly. Get more super-simple, non-diet diet tips HERE.
9. Move After The Meal
Once dinner is over get moving. This doesn't have to be an all-out flag football game. A simple walk outside is great. Too cold to head outdoors? Clean the table and help with the dishes. Moving and burning a few calories after dinner will make you feel better, trust me.
10. Indulge And Don't Think Twice About It.
This is my favorite tip of all. Thanksgiving is about family, sharing gratitude and enjoying a meal together. Don't be so strict about your calorie intake. This special holiday comes once a year. Enjoy your meal and get back on the wagon the next day.
What About You?
Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving diet survival strategy? Please share it with me in the comments section. Have a topic you would like me to tackle on the blog? Email me and let me know.
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Photo: Artur Rutkowski