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tips to limit overeating on thanksgivingThanksgiving is traditionally known as an eating-fest. While it should be a time to reflect and share gratitude with family and friends, food (and maybe football) have taken over this holiday. And some people start indulging at Thanksgiving and don’t really stop until after New Year’s Day. That type of carefree celebrating can negatively impact your health and add unwanted pounds.

Is it possible to enjoy yourself without overdoing it? Certainly.

With a little advance planning and self-control, you can participate in a wonderful Thanksgiving, sharing a delicious meal without feeling totally deprived, or going overboard and feeling stuffed and guilty. Take advantage of some of these tips to limit overeating on Thanksgiving.

Tips to Limit Overeating on Thanksgiving

  • Plan ahead – Thanksgiving comes around the fourth Thursday of every November. No surprise. So watch your diet the week or two before. Toss or give away remaining Halloween candy, limit desserts, reduce high-fat or sugary choices and load up on water. Don’t go out for an all-you-can-eat buffet meal the night before Thanksgiving, for example.
  • Eat breakfast and don’t skip meals – You know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so eat something, even if it’s small, to get your metabolism going. And be sure to keep it going steadily all day by eating regular small meals. If you starve yourself, especially on Thanksgiving Day, you are much more likely to overeat once the meal is served – because you’re hungry, and because you think you earned it.
  • Drink water – Dehydration sometimes can be mistaken for hunger. By staying hydrated, you fill your stomach, keep your metabolism humming and can save calories by replacing soda, juice or alcohol consumption.
  • Exercise – Hit the gym, take on a local Turkey Trot or follow a streaming workout in the morning to start your day in a healthy way. If you’re not in the kitchen all day, offer to help serve appetizers and drinks, take out the trash, refill coolers, run to the store, and more to stay active while keeping the celebration going smoothly.

Play with the kids and take them to the local park if weather permits. After the meal and clean-up, grab a few family members and the dog for a walk, which not only burns calories, but also will helps digestion and wards off fatigue.

  • Cut down and slow down – First make sure you know all the food options available so you can choose your must-haves. Be mindful of how you are filling your plate, watching portion sizes. You can sample lots of different foods if you limit how much you take. Use a smaller plate, which research has shown can help cut back on calories by 20-30%

And eat slowly, taking smaller bites, putting down your fork between bites, drinking water and focusing on the conversation at the table. Savor the tastes. Your brain takes about 20 minutes to register that your stomach is full, so take your time and resist the urge to automatically clean your plate or refill it with second helpings.

  • Implement easy tweaks – Eating your main meal earlier in the day (versus at 5 p.m.) means that you will have more time to move and burn calories before collapsing on the couch or in bed.

Serving food away from the table – on a buffet or in the kitchen – keeps it out of sight and hand’s reach, so you are less likely to take more simply because it’s sitting in front of you.

As a cue to stop eating, brush your teeth after the meal. The taste of toothpaste is likely to eliminate grazing later.