Thanksgiving is approaching fast and furious -- it marks a time of year in which overeating is expected. Fortunately, it's not as hard as you think to have a guilt-free Thanksgiving meal. With a little pre-planning and a commitment to staying on course, the holidays can be quite pleasurable.
Thanksgiving is only one meal. One meal won't derail your weight loss goals. What will derail them is using one holiday indulgence as an excuse to binge until New Year's!
Here are some tips to keep you focused:
Don't set yourself up to fail. Shift your goal from weight loss to weight maintenance during the holidays.
Make a Game Plan:
Dieting through Thanksgiving doesn't have to leave you feeling deprived. With a little pre-planning, you can have a healthy and happy holiday dinner.
Bring a Dish:
If you're not preparing the Thanksgiving meal yourself, ask your host if it would be all right to bring a dish for the family to enjoy.
Have Doggy Bags Ready:
Send your guests home with those tempting sweet potato pies that might otherwise live in your fridge.
It takes 15 minutes for your brain to register that you're full. Savor your food, drink lots of water and slow down. Water is a dieter's best friend. Water helps control your appetite by making you feel fuller faster.
Eat Before the Party Starts:
Don't go to dinner starving. Eat a healthy breakfast and a low-calorie snack before hitting the Thanksgiving buffet. You're less likely to overeat if you've got your appetite under control.
Control Your Portions:
If you eat slowly and drink plenty of water with your meal, you shouldn't feel the need to go for seconds.
Avoid Finger Foods:
Nibbling before, during and after the main meal is a recipe for a belly ache!
Choose White Meat:
White-meat turkey is one of the best low-fat protein sources for the dieter.
Drink Alcohol in Moderation:
Better yet... stick to water!
Make Healthier Choices:
Fortunately, many Thanksgiving staples fit well into a healthy diet. Turkey is a great source of protein, and sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber and vitamin A.
Take a walk instead of crashing in front of the TV after dinner.
Stay on Schedule:
If you already maintain a fitness schedule, don't let Thanksgiving derail it.
Don't Use Exercise as an Excuse to Indulge:
On average, you need to walk one mile to burn about 100 calories (15 minutes at 4 mph) while it takes only 2 seconds to gobble 100 calories of food.
Shift from weight loss to weight maintenance during the holidays. Dieting through Thanksgiving doesn't have to be chore. Make good choices, eat in moderation and keep moving.
And don't forget that Thanksgiving is about more than mashed potatoes -- it's about family and friends.
Have a happy and healthy holiday!
Check out the original Diet.com feature on Levinson's Buff Dad book.
Mike Levinson is a former amateur bodybuilding champion and registered dietician who holds dual degrees in sports nutrition and physical education. He has worked extensively as a nutritionist with the California Angels baseball team and with famous athletes such as Charles Oakley, JT Snow and Sean Rooks. He also worked as a nutritionist for the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders.