Let’s be honest. The holidays are the most difficult time of the year to eat healthy. Thanksgiving dinner is one meal that no one wants to hold back on. Remember that although Thanksgiving is all about family and traditions, filled with love, laughter and, good company, it can also be filled with unhealthy eating and extra calories. This year, let’s turn this into an occasion where we slip in some nutrients along with the decadence.

If you don’t want to end up having excessive calories under your belt, learn how you can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and not feel guilty about it later. Keep reading for our top tips on how to have a healthy Thanksgiving this year.

Keep it a three-meal day

Skipping meals to save on calories for later can be a recipe for disaster since it can lead to overeating. Wake up with the mindset to eat all three meals of the day and you’re unlikely to stuff yourself at Thanksgiving dinner. Skipping meals can cause your blood sugar levels to drop, which can urge you to over indulge later. Consume a protein-rich breakfast like overnight oats and blueberries or a pumpkin-spice smoothie. For lunch, load up on lots of fiber. Make sure to eat healthy snacks like hummus or veggies if you get hungry through the day.

Embrace the seasonal produce

Thanksgiving is not just the time of turkey and mashed potatoes, it is also about seasonal foods. There are many seasonal foods that are non-starchy and healthy and don’t require much dressing up. Incorporate this seasonal produce by using apples, pears, squash, leafy greens, pumpkin, cranberries and pomegranates to create side dishes. Make dishes that give you Thanksgiving feels but with a healthy take.

Don’t eat till you’re stuffed

There is a fine line between being full and overeating. Overeating will not just give you extra calories, it will also make you extremely lazy. Have a sense of how much you need to eat. If you want to try everything, eat tiny portions. Remember that the first bite tastes the best, the 15th bite probably won’t bring you much joy. Listen to yourself. Stop eating when you’re not hungry anymore. Eat slowly and enjoy every bite you take. Try to stay within a reasonable caloric intake.

Load your plate with veggies

Non-starchy vegetables like Brussel sprouts, French beans, carrots, and bell peppers, beets, parsnips are great options to fill yourself with. Take advantage of these nutritional vegetables in season that not only taste great but are also easy to prep. Healthy holiday vegetables will fill you up and keep you from indulging in unhealthy food. If you’re not hosting Thanksgiving, pitch in to bring some healthy veggie snacks that everyone can enjoy.

Skip it if it’s familiar

One way of saving up on calories is to avoid anything that isn’t screaming Thanksgiving. Dishes that are an everyday fare and not holiday-season food are available for you to eat for the rest of the year. Things like cheese and crackers and even mashed potatoes are often part of an everyday diet and should be left behind. Instead, enjoy the stuffing, gravy, and the special foods that come around only during the holidays.

Have a healthy start

Start your Thanksgiving meal with all the healthy dishes you see first. Load your plate with veggies and a few pieces chicken or turkey and move your way up to dishes like gravy, casseroles or yams. Since you won’t feel extremely hungry after eating the healthy dishes first, you’re more unlikely to binge on the unhealthy food. You’ll still be able to enjoy all the Thanksgiving decadence without overdoing it.

Remember. There will be leftovers.

Knowing there will be leftovers for the next day can make you as happy as the meal itself. Take it from us when we tell you some people enjoy leftovers more than the meal itself. (Remember Ross Geller and his ‘moist maker’ sandwich from friends?) You will most likely have lots of leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of going overboard and stuffing yourself up, just remember to remind yourself you’re going to have a little bit again tomorrow. Honor your favorite meal of the year by saving some up for the next day.

Bottom line

Now that you know exactly how you can enjoy Thanksgiving in all its goodness while still keeping your health in check, go and enjoy that Thanksgiving feast!

And remember, at the end of the day, overindulging for one meal will not completely derail your weight loss or healthy lifestyle goals. But remember to not let ‘Thanksgiving Day’ binge become an ‘I blew it’ binge that lasts till New Year. Enjoy Thanksgiving for what it is, and commit yourself to get back to your healthy routine or join a weight loss program if you end up feasting and overeating more than you planned to.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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