Thanksgiving is the most anticipated meal of the year. If your families are anything like ours, the event starts mid-afternoon for a feast that lasts hours and consists of enough food to feed an army.

The first step to surviving the holiday is accepting that this is a day of indulgence. While you may be on a diet or watching your food intake, bringing any sense of deprivation into the day may cause you to overeat out of sheer rebelliousness against “missing out.” Cut yourself a little slack and let yourself enjoy more food than usual on this special day. After all, it’s just one meal. Below are some tips to keep you on the path to enjoyment, not overeating.

  1. Don’t Skip Breakfast or Lunch: Be sure to make eating a healthy breakfast part of your Thanksgiving eating plan. Skipping breakfast not only slows down your metabolism — something you definitely don’t want to do before a big meal — but it can also lead to eating more calories later in the day. If your meal isn’t starting until your usual dinner time, fasting the entire day will leave you ravenous. Eat solid yet light meals so your feast isn’t the first bite of food in the day.
  2. Stick to Veggies For Appetizers: Thanksgiving typically tends to be a grazing event. Folks arrive at their leisure, the game goes into over-time, turkeys are unpredictable. Skip the fatty, cheesy appetizers and stick with the crudités. Raw vegetables are not only low in calories, they are high in fiber, which will help you detox after your big meal. If the veggies are accompanied by a creamy dip, just go easy on the sauce.
  3. Watch Your Alcohol: Remember that liquid calories count toward your total caloric intake for the day. If you’re attending an all-day event, go easy on the alcohol. Wine, beer, and hard alcohol lessen your resolve to eat healthy, reasonable portions and can lead to overeating. Alternate between your spirit of choice and a non-alcoholic beverage. Grab a seltzer water so you have the feel of something fizzy without the calories.
  4. Chat it Up: One easy way to slow down and enjoy your meal is to talk to your neighbors. Thanksgiving is all about friends and family so take the time to catch up with your loved ones.
  5. Tasting Menu: If you’re the type of eater that needs to try every dish on the table, use the PopSugar spoon rule: simply take a tablespoonful of each dish. This way your palate and curiosity will be satisfied, but your belly will not suffer. Find the couple of foods that you enjoy the most and focus on eating those. You can eat boring mashed potatoes any day of the year.
  6. Keep a Bit of Food on Your Plate: Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs – it happens. But don’t feel compelled to finish everything on your plate. Take a breather. If you’re done, stop. The clean plate club isn’t as fun over the age of eight.
  7. Have a Piece of Pie, But Just One: Apple, pecan, pumpkin — no Thanksgiving meal is complete without a taste of pie. But you don’t need a piece of each kind. Grab a slice and savor each bite. This is not the last time you will experience the deliciousness of pie so no need to overdo it.
  8. Leftovers: Arguably the best part of Thanksgiving are the leftovers. Remind yourself that you will see this food again, most likely the following day so no need to cram every last bite of sweet potato with marshmallows in. Turkey is great hot or cold and all the fixings reheat nicely. Just be sure to toss the pie after a day or two – no need to keep the sweet temptation around for too long.

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