Fall is in the air, which means one thing – Thanksgiving is almost here! Now to some, this is their favorite day of the year, to others, it’s a day of exhaustion from indulging in maybe one too many pieces of pie.

So, does this mean you shouldn’t partake in any of the yummy Thanksgiving desserts or side dishes? Of course not! But believe it or not, you can still find balance by making healthy, clean-eating choices during the holidays. It doesn’t have to be a time where you put your goals on hold till the New Year. All you need is a game plan and a few tips to get you through the day. You can enjoy this season without feeling guilty or like you blew your nutrition goals.

Here are 10 tips for a balanced diet during Thanksgiving, all while still enjoying your holiday favorites.

Tip #1: Don’t forget breakfast:
We all know that breakfast is an essential part of a healthy diet. And, while skipping meals may sound like a good way to cut calories, it could actually result in overeating. That just defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Starting off the day with a healthy, balanced meal can help you regulate the number of calories taken in throughout the day. So, try including fibers, like oatmeal, and adding in some colorful fruits and veggies.

Tip #2: Avoid overeating and grab a {small} plate:
One of the most overlooked strategies to avoid overeating is simply using your plate and a smaller one at that. This immediately limits the amount of food you can put on it and encourages proper portion sizes. Another strategy is to divide your plate. Think about the 50/25/25 rule. The first and biggest half (50%) is strictly for vegetables. In fact, eating a salad before your meal helps you consume fewer calories overall, but broccoli and other veggies are just as good. Then, there are two smaller halves (25% and 25%). These two sections are meant for starches and protein: like a cup of potatoes (size of your fist) and a 3-ounce piece of meat (size of your palm). We know that holiday meals tend to be on the larger side and usually include two or three helpings – so remember to eat slowly and wait about 15 minutes before considering that second plate.

Tip #3: Mingle away from the buffet table:
Portion control is important during the holidays, especially when you’re eating and mingling the whole time.  So, after your meal, try staying away from the buffet table so you avoid mindless grazing. There’s no need for that “uncomfortably full, need to unbutton my pants” kind of feeling we all know we’ve had. Remember, the turkey was meant to be stuffed…not you too.

Tip #4: Practice mindful eating:
Saying something like “focus on what you’re eating” might sound odd to some. However, doing this will help you enjoy the food for its taste and texture. Mindful eating is a practice that is growing and is very useful during the holiday season. Studies have shown that people who take time to be mindful of their foods are less likely to overeat. So, fix a serving of your favorites, and enjoy!

Tip #5: Watch those beverages:
It’s easy to overlook the calories that come with sugary beverages. We get it. With Thanksgiving come cocktails, sodas, eggnog, etc. But is it worth all those packed calories? There are simple ways to make healthier choices; like choosing a wine spritzer, water instead of soda, and skim milk in your latte in the morning over regular milk. See, that’s not so bad.

Tip #6: Offer to bring a dish:
Have you ever gone to your family’s Thanksgiving, just knowing that there will be nothing healthy to eat? If you find yourself in this situation, consider bringing your own dish. This way, you’ll know that there will be a healthy option for you, and the host might even appreciate the gesture. Check out our healthy recipes below!

Tip #7: Stock your home with healthy ingredients:
Making healthy choices while you’re out to dinner isn’t the only hurdle to jump. It’s also essential to make smart choices at home, especially during the holidays. To do this, make sure your fridge is stocked with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy snacks.

Tip #8: Don’t deny your favorites. After all, it is the holidays:
Speaking of your favorites, let’s not leave them out. Sometimes the cravings for your favorite pumpkin pie or garlic mashed potatoes just call your name, and that’s okay! Eating your favorite holiday foods is perfectly fine, in moderation. Remember that enjoying your favorite meal or dessert does not mean you’ve given up on your nutrition goals. In fact, refusing foods can often lead to overeating. So, treat yourself this year but don’t forget balance!

Tip #9: Move your body:
After a big Thanksgiving meal, make sure to get some exercise – just 20 or 30 minutes. Instead of sitting around the house with your extended family, ask them to go on a walk outside or shoot some hoops with the kids. However, physical activity isn’t just important after meals. Starting your day off with a workout can also help burn calories throughout the entire day and keep that metabolism moving. And know that if you fall off track during the holiday season, it’s okay. You can always start the New Year off with a clean slate.

Tip #10: Visit with one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists
If you’re searching for dietary help, support as we dive into the holiday season, or if you just want to learn more about overall healthy, clean-eating – schedule an appointment with our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist!

Being healthy during Thanksgiving doesn’t mean it can’t include some of your favorite holiday foods. And it doesn’t mean you ruined your clean-eating streak by having 2 pieces of pie. So, don’t stress. The key is to aim for balanced, mindful eating. The best part of it all…you don’t have to do it alone! You can eagerly conquer this Thanksgiving with all of these tips, and even better – by scheduling a checkup with your ELH provider.

Remember, choosing the smaller portions can result in a big difference (and not having to go up a pant size in the New Year).

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