Sports Woman's legs in running movement

It may be hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner—and that, for many of us, means feasting. So, let’s start by acknowledging the elephant in the room: We all want to enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner. Then again, none of us wants to pack on the dreaded holiday pounds. Here, then, are some tips to help you enjoy your meal without blowing your diet.

  1. Exercise more before the big day. That’s right, you can help offset any extra calories you eat by getting more active the week before Thanksgiving. Add steps to your daily walk. Add minutes to your daily workout. Or add to the pace or intensity level of your workout. The idea is to create a calorie deficit. (Just make sure not to eat more than usual.)
  2. Try these simple cooking tips for favorite dishes:
  • Use fat-free turkey broth (instead of turkey drippings) to baste the turkey and make gravy.
  • Use whole wheat or gluten-free bread, and extra fruits and veggies (like mushrooms, apples, onions, and peppers) to make the stuffing.
  • Make mashed potatoes with skim milk, not whole, and use olive oil or low-fat sour cream in place of butter.
  • Make your own cranberry sauce and slash the sugar.
  • Cut calories off your dessert by making pumpkin custard instead of pie.
  1. Eat smart and enjoy what you eat with these tips:
  • Eat breakfast. Avoid the classic mistake of starving yourself before the big meal to save calories. This typically doesn’t work. You’ll likely just end up bingeing later, eating way more calories than you would have if you weren’t so hungry.
  • Use smaller plates. Let’s face it: most of us are going to heap our plates full. So, by using a smaller plate, you’ll likely serve yourself less. While you’re at it, fill half that plate with veggies. And trim off the high-fat turkey skin.
  • Slow down and savor. What’s the point of taking hours to cook a feast, only to devour it in minutes? This year, try really slowing down and savoring each bite. You may find that you enjoy your meal more. And this may make you less likely to overeat.
  • Hold off on seconds. Maybe you still have room for seconds … but maybe you don’t. Hold off on getting more food for at least 20 minutes. This gives your stomach enough time to signal your brain if it’s full.
  • Leave the table. When you’ve all finished eating, put down your fork and move to another room—or, better yet, go for a walk before dessert. If you keep sitting at the dining table, you may be more liable to pick that fork back up and start nibbling.

Thanksgiving is about abundance and gratitude. So go ahead, take pleasure in the beautiful meal and the people you get to share it with. You can still do that while honoring your health.