We all know that Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to relax and spend time with family and friends. Many of us also know it is a great way to pack on the pounds. While Thanksgiving has become associated with stuffing ourselves, there are ways to help curb your eating and give yourself a positive start to the holiday season. Here are some tips for cutting back this turkey day.

Not eating too much on Thanksgiving actually starts before the big day. Stress of making travel arrangements, buying supplies, and coordinating get-togethers can cause you to start eating more before turkey day even arrives. Remember to take time to de-stress, relax, and take some time for yourself during the month of November. This is also a good philosophy to keep through the rest of the holiday season as well.

One simple way to keep from gaining weight at Thanksgiving is to make small meal changes and substitutions while cooking. This doesn’t mean you need to go buy a tofurkey; just substitute certain ingredients for more healthy ones. Try adding extra spices to your meals so you don’t have to add much butter or gravy. You can also substitute evaporated skim milk to deserts and chicken broth to gravy and mashed potatoes to add flavor without all the fat. You can also try alternate cooking methods like letting the fat drip off the turkey or steaming veggies to make the meal healthier.

Never skip lunch on Thanksgiving, even if you’re eating early. If you’re really hungry when you go to eat, you’ll end up eating a lot more, even factoring in the extra lunch calories. Just remember to eat a sensible lunch and not pig out before the big meal. You can also cut your portions on fatty foods by adding a healthy option to the beginning of the meal, like a salad.

Many of us do pretty well when it comes to keeping our portions small at Thanksgiving, but depending on how many options there are at your meal, all those small choices can add up to a lot of calories. Instead of taking a little of everything, pick the things you want the most to eat and take a sensible portion of each of them. You’ll eat fewer calories, but you’ll probably feel more satisfied because you got to eat all of your favorite foods.

In addition to eating less during the big event, why not go for a walk or do another physical activity after the meal. This will help get your digestive system revved up to digest the extra calories and burn them off faster. Instead of a walk, try an active game like charades so the whole family can join in and bond at the same time.

With a little planning and effort, you can keep your waistline slim this Thanksgiving holiday.

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