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5 Good Choices for Thanksgiving Day

Posted Nov 02 2010 6:51am

It’s that time of year again. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. What do these holidays have in common? They can be absolute nightmares for dieters, particularly dieters like me who have struggled for years with learning how to cope with the copious amount of food usually present at fall and winter shindigs. What should be joyous occasions filled with friends, family and fond remembrances often u-turn into funk-filled reminders that willpower was lacking for yet another year.

I would like for both of us that this year is different.

In this article I will be focusing my attention on the truly American holiday known as Thanksgiving, by offering 5 Good Choices for Thanksgiving Day:

#1 – Eat and drink before you go
Have you heard how beneficial it is to fill your belly before going grocery shopping? Supposedly it helps you avoid poor impulsive food decisions while strolling amid aisles of tempting food. You should utilize the same strategy when attending a Thanksgiving Day feast. Before leaving for dinner have a healthy salad or fresh vegetables and wash it down with a few glasses of cool, refreshing water. This will leave you with less room for all of the tempting food you will be facing.

#2 – Bring your own food
Concerned you may not have healthy choices available during Thanksgiving Dinner? Then bring your own healthy food choices. This is very easy to do if you are attending a potluck dinner, and could be potentially tricky if you are not. In that case you may want to keep a little cooler in the trunk of your car and make the occasional visit for a healthy snack. Hopefully your host will understand your desire to ensure a selection of healthy food but only you can know where the limits would be.

#3 – Eat a little bit of everything
Many families are like mine and have potluck dinners for Thanksgiving. This means there will most likely be new and varied tastes to choose from. Sure, Aunt Mabel will bring those same old nasty deviled eggs you know through experience to avoid, but you can bet there will be a huge selection of potentially delicious food to sample. The key to your sampling is to keep the portions small. It wouldn’t be unusual to have 15-20 different food items at a Thanksgiving Dinner and if you tried to have each in any semblance of a normal portion size you would quickly find yourself engorged. Rather, purposely try everything in very small portions, keeping in mind the other choices presented here. With luck you’ll know which items to have again next year and which will join Aunt Mabel’s on the “no eat” list.

#4 – Take your time
One of the worst things you can do while attempting to moderate your caloric intake (a fancy word for eating) is to eat fast. Not fast food, although that is really bad too, bad literally eating too fast. When you consume your food at too fast a pace it is less likely that you will feel full and you will tend to overeat. This is compounded at a social gathering like a Thanksgiving Day feast. With my family we tend to stay at the table until everyone has finished their meal. Fast eaters will have an empty plate in front of them with nothing else to do but fill it up again, and again, and heaven help us, again. By severely moderating the pace at which you eat you can still enjoy the wide variety of delectable morsels you chose to put on your plate, while not feeling as though you need to keep yourself occupied while waiting for others to finish.

#5 – Reward yourself
In the end it is important to remember that this is but one day out of 365 in a year of hopefully good dieting. While you shouldn’t take that as license to absolutely blow your diet out of the water, it is important to remember that one day cannot completely undo you either. Find something you wouldn’t normally eat on your diet (pecan pie ala mode perhaps?), and reward yourself for following these good choices by indulging just a little bit.

I sometimes doubt my own qualifications for giving advice on dieting, what with years of failure under my growing belt, but the fact is my failures at the holidays are caused not by my lack of knowledge but my lack of willpower. If you can muster up the strength to follow through then these tips will no doubt help you.

Thanksgiving can be a dieter’s nightmare if you let it. Make these good choices to help ensure you keep in control this year.

John writes about his journey from fat to fit on his weight loss blog , and is starting to open up about his sleep apnea as well. Follow him on Twitter .

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