Don’t look now but Thanksgiving Day is right around the corner. With the day that has come to symbolize extravagance in over indulgence, especially at the holiday dinner table.  You have to ask yourself, is partaking in all that special holiday fare worth it??   The day is famous for its indulgences and, for many, an annual ritual to overeat and then lounge lazily for the rest of the day watching football games, napping, and spending time with family and friends. 

 The Thanksgiving holiday is a little bit of a challenge for highly health conscious individuals. After all, if you show up at the door with a dressing-free salad and whole wheat dry rolls, you might be turned away at the door. And, honestly, a once-per-year day of overeating most likely isn’t going to sabotage your diet plans, though sustaining this eating behavior throughout the holiday season could lead to a few extra unwanted pounds to lose in the New Year.

 The good news is that there are some simple changes you can make to your Thanksgiving plans this year that will save you some calories (without sacrificing taste or your reputation) and add some fun to your holiday festivities.

      1. Fit it all on one plate. Prevent over-stuffing yourself by fitting your Thanksgiving feast all on one plate (This works best if you don't use an oversized plate filled to the brim). Sample small portions and avoid going back for seconds. If you're tempted to return for more, give yourself 20 minutes (about how long it takes to feel full) first.
      2. Eat slowly: Thanksgiving foods are likely to be richer and more filling than your everyday fare, so eat slowly and savor every bite.  Take the opportunity to partake in conversation at the holiday table instead of another helping of dressing.  This will help arrest your appetite so that as you eat slower, your body is aware that you are satisfying your hunger receptors.
      3. Get moving: Sign up for a local Turkey Trot 5K or 10K and spend your Thanksgiving morning getting some exercise. Not only will you burn some calories, but you'll also enjoy some holiday fun!
      4. Local Sport Traditions: Most municipalities sponsor a Thanksgiving Holiday sporting event. Like a football game between rival community groups.  See if you can participate or at least  view the event. This will get you out of the house and away from those special treats  and pastries made special for the holiday table.
      5. Make some easy Turkey day substitutions: For example:  Eat the white meat without the skin instead of the dark meat with skin and shave off 190 calories.
        Turkey — white meat, no skin (6oz): 180 calories, 3g fat
        Turkey - dark meat, with skin (6oz): 370 calories, 20g fat
      6. Make your own cranberries Rather than the jellied stuff and save 120 calories.
         Cranberries (boiled in sugar) (1/2 cup): 100 calories, <1g fat
         Jellied cranberry sauce (1/2 cup): 220 calories, <1g fat
      7. MarshmallowsCut the marshmallows on your sweet potatoes and instead add a little bit of spice to save 100 calories.
        Sweet potatoes, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg (2/3c): 200 calories, 3g fat
        Candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows (2/3c): 300 calories, 3g fat
      8. Skip the green bean casserole Instead just steam some green beans and cut 110 calories.
        Steamed green beans (1/2C): 20 calories, <1g fat
        Green bean casserole (1/2C): 130 calories, <7 g fat
      9. Choose pumpkin pie over the pecan pie For dessert and decrease your caloric intake by 160 calories.
        Pumpkin pie (1/8 pie): 340 calories, <15g fat
        Pecan pie (1/8 pie): 500 calories, <25g fat

If you stay the course and keep in mind the above tips, you should still be able to enjoy the holiday fare, without packing on the extra poundage.  And remember it’s only the one day, just make sure on Friday your back to your regular eating and exercise regimen and you will have a healthy Thanksgiving Day.