How to Not Overeat This Thanksgiving

If the turkey is too tempting and the mashed potatoes and gravy sound to delectable to ignore, there are ways you can fight the urge to overeat, but still enjoy a great Thanksgiving.

Here are some tips from our dietitian about how you can make Thanksgiving a little less filling, by curbing your urge to overeat.

Stick with Tradition, but Give it a Makeover

“Most people tend to overeat at Thanksgiving, simply because they don’t want to give up the traditional foods,” says Christy Shatlock, MS/RD, and one of the lead dietitians for bistroMD. “There are healthier alternatives to some of your traditional meals—foods that will leave you feeling satisfied, but will help you avoid the temptation to overeat.”

When it comes to the turkey and the potatoes, you can make a great-tasting Thanksgiving dinner that is still traditional, but also tasty.

“There are traditional turkey recipes that are healthy, you just have to do your research," says Christy. "There are also traditional sides, like Parmesan mashed red potatoes that have half the calories and regular fat than typical recipes."

If you are going to Thanksgiving at a friend or family's house, choose wisely when it comes to dine. Choose white meat over dark, roasted sweet potatoes over candied yams, and eat your vegetables. For dessert, a small slice of pumpkin pie is okay, just avoid the whipped topping.

Also, avoid finger foods. These tend to be the highest in calories and fat.

To get the recipe for healthy and delicious Parmesan mashed red potatoes, courtesy of bistroMD's Chef K, please click here .

Learn How to Handle Leftovers

Other than the massive meal you will be forced to face, there always comes the dilemma of when to eat those leftovers.

“One of the biggest problems that comes from our desire to overeat at Thanksgiving is the stack of leftovers in our fridge,” says Christy. “Eating leftovers every day after Thanksgiving can make sticking to your diet difficult—more of the wrong foods in the wrong portions.”

If you still want to eat leftovers

after Turkey Day, there is a way to do it that won't mess up your diet.

“When Thanksgiving is over, take your leftovers, and portion them out for the rest of the week using several different sizes of containers or Tupperware,” says Christy. “For your main protein, (the turkey), put in several medium size containers and label them on the days you are going to eat them. Do the same with your sides; portion them out and label for each day.”

If this seems like too much work, just use a small plate the next time you need to reheat. Eating these leftovers on a smaller plate will tell your brain that you’ve eaten enough, so you won’t eat too much!

Also, think of new, healthier ways to enjoy your leftovers. Slice up some of your leftover turkey, and put it on a salad the next day. You could also make a great soup with a lot of your leftovers. Just freeze it, reheat, and enjoy it later in the holiday season.

Don't Skip Meals, and Chew Your Food—Slowly!

On Thanksgiving, most people make the mistake of rushing through their meal. On the contrary, if you are trying to NOT overeat this holiday, it’s important that you chew your food slowly.

“When you chew your food slowly, this makes your meal more satisfying, and can actually help you feel fuller, longer,” says Christy. “Even with all of those different foods being passed your way, don’t take a serving of something else, if you haven’t finished what's on your plate. This will also help keep your portion sizes under control.”

Also, don't starve yourself the day before or on the actual day. Make sure to eat a good protein-based breakfast, and make sure to have good protein-based snacks during the day.

Thanksgiving is also about family time, so make sure you put your fork down every once and a while, and join in on the conversation. This will also help control your urge to eat more.

You can’t exactly have a conversation with food in your mouth, right?


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