Just because you have a full belly and you’re ready for a post-dinner nap doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve broken your diet. In fact, there are many ways to have a healthier Thanksgiving dinner. In general, a traditional Thanksgiving meal isn’t as bad for you as you may think, but there are ways to stay conscious of your food intake and turn this Thanksgiving into a healthy start for the holiday season.

  1. Rev Up the Metabolism Early: When you know you are going to eat more than usual, it’s a good idea to start the day off with some form of physical activity to get the metabolism ready for the splurge. You don’t have to do more exercise than usual, just something that gets the heart racing and wakes up the body. After all, you don’t want your body to be caught off guard when you eat your weight in turkey. You want to give it reason to crave more!
  2. Have a Well-balanced Plate: Just like our parents used to tell us, it’s as important to eat your veggies as it is to eat your turkey. While turkey is rich in vitamin B and lean protein, Thanksgiving day greens can provide vitamins A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and other nutrients you might only encounter as a daily supplement on a regular basis.
  3. Make Smart Swaps When Cooking: Making healthy choices during the holidays is one of the hardest things for dieters to do. We want to hold true to our traditions, but we also want to stick to our diet as much as possible. One valid option is simply to take a cheat day and enjoy it the way you and your family always do. But you can also take a middle-of-the-road approach that relies heavily on more sweet potato and less mashed potato, slightly more greens and slightly less pumpkin pie, and more water than wine.
  4. Get In a Full 3 Meals on Thanksgiving Day: This is a great way to keep your metabolism active throughout the day. While many of us are eating consistently, it’s important to know when meal times will be and keep dinner as close to your usual dinner time as possible. Getting all 3 meals in during your Thanksgiving festivities ensures that you body is ready for an influx of nutrients when dinner time rolls around.
  5. Know When You’re Full: Around the holidays, we often have a bad habit of eating beyond our comfort zone, sometimes until a food coma takes over and we pass out on the couch. Some call it a tradition, but in reality, no one needs to be eating so much that they can’t move. For the mindful eaters out there, you may not have to watch what you eat if instead you are watching how much you eat. Be aware of your fullness, be in control of your portion sizes, and be ready to put the fork down so you can comfortably enjoy the rest of the day’s eating!