The older we get, the more our food choices affect how good we feel from day to day.

Though Thanksgiving is a holiday centered on gratefulness, family and friends, its association with bountiful, never-ending spreads of fattening foods have made it the bane of your waistline’s existence.

If you find yourself dreading the holidays due to the calorie-rich events penned into your calendar, there is hope. Believe it or not, overindulgence happens for a variety of reasons, and the least of those is the bounty in front of you. There are a few effective actions you can take prior to these festive events to ensure that you consume less, enjoy what you consume, and have a blast with your loved ones without worrying about counting calories.

First, get moving. Studies have repeatedly shown that increased activity combined with calorie monitoring helps to keep weight gain in check. With that said, the holiday season could be the best time to increase your activity, allowing you to enjoy a few more bites of your favorite dessert without paying the calorie price.

If you already exercise, adding even 10 minutes to your routine can make a difference. Making fitness an adventure can also help you to look forward to each day. Finally, short bursts of activity add up over time, so don’t be afraid to schedule a 10-minute walk in the morning and another with your family in the evening. Who said burning calories has to happen all at once?

Make sure you have realistic expectations. Planning to lose 10 pounds during the holiday season sounds great. Is it realistic? Not so much. Rather than scheduling a goal that will be more difficult to achieve during this time, why not set your sights on simply maintaining your weight? By setting a sensible goal, you’ll be more likely to succeed. Success leads to improved self-esteem and commitment to healthy behaviors. Bonus? You may just lose some weight in the process!

Bring healthy food options to Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings so it's easier on your waistline.

Remember to eat your breakfast! Experts haven’t glorified breakfast as the most important meal of the day for nothing. Eating first thing in the morning can help you control your appetite, especially during those tempting holiday evening gatherings.

When in doubt, bring lighter food alternatives for yourself. Don’t assume that someone else will provide diet-friendly options. Bring a salad with light dressing or another calorie-conscious option to add to the mix. Bringing your own light options not only gives you something to eat guilt-free, but welcomes your friends and relatives to do the same, assuaging some of the marginalized feelings common to dieters during holiday events.

Before the season begins, practice portion control. You don’t need to eat everything to have a good time. So when bounteous offerings tempt you to fill your plate high on Thanksgiving, remember the following tips:

  • Skip seconds. If you feel satisfied, don’t push your stomach to where you feel stuffed. Have a little of everything for a balanced meal that doesn’t overload your body.
  • Eat only the best. You’ll feel most satisfied if you consume only what looks tastiest. Do this and cravings will melt away.
  • Make time to chat. It’s hard to eat too much when you’re having tons of fun catching up with friends and loved ones. Spend more time socializing and less time eyeing the dessert table. You’ll enjoy the evening and consume fewer calories.

Thanksgiving need not become a dreaded holiday simply because you are watching your weight. By increasing your regular activity levels, nourishing your body properly, practicing portion control and focusing on social interaction rather than food consumption, you can relish your favorite events while maintaining – and even losing – weight.

Chelsea Terris is an enthusiastic health and wellness writer for WeightWise Bariatric Program, located in Edmond, OK. She believes in healing and health for all and strives to provide accessible, encouraging information.

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Published on Nov. 25, 2013

Estimated reading time is 3.4 min.

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One Comment

  1. Frank & Linda November 25, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    my Wife and I enjoyed your Print on “Thanksgiving Meal”
    I have kept my weight at 158 since 1963 as a Young Marine.

    I have been visiting the VAMC at Durham,NC and just couldn’t Ignore the VA Employees
    Physical Condition. I believe they need some serious Life changing Habits.
    90% are Obese, therefore, they are sick..Who’s supporting them?..
    These is a very Serious issue with your Employees. and with Our Children.

    Let us NOT place the Blame on Food, Smoking, Fast Food, Drinks, but place the
    Blame on Our Daily Habits of just NOT caring or maintaining some PRIDE IN OURSELVES….Food does NOT have a Conscience, no more than a Pencil should
    be blame for miss-spelled WORDS…

    ” The Good LIFE is Killing US ”

    Wake up America and take a long Look

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