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Seasonal Diet Tips

Explore our expert knowledge on topics such as healthy eating during the holidays, and how to live into a happier and healthier you in the New Year. Discover tips and tricks on how to avoid weight gain at holiday parties and while on vacation.

Tips on How to Not Overeat at Thanksgiving

From the delicious smells of savory turkey to the decadent apple pies, overeating is all too common (and blamelessly so) during the food-heavy holiday. Control impulses and portions with these six tips to help you not overeat this holiday season!

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The rich aromas of Thanksgiving foods fill the kitchen...

From the savory turkey and potatoes to the decadent pies, overeating is all too common during the anticipated fall holiday.

Control impulses and large, multiple portions with these six tips to not overeat this Thanksgiving and holiday season!

How to Not Overeat at Thanksgiving

Eating a balanced breakfast and practicing portion control include some of the tips to not overeat this Thanksgiving holiday.

1. Eat Breakfast

Saving up for the main event to save on calories is a common thought and practice amongst dieters. However, skipping meals can increase the likelihood of overeating and exceeding calorie intake later on.

Instead of completely skipping out on that morning meal, enjoy a balanced breakfast. Consuming a nutritious meal right from the very get-go also helps set the stage for healthy choices throughout the day.

Eating a high-protein breakfast can also reduce the risk of overeating during the Thanksgiving main course by regulating hunger levels.

2. Drink Water

Since hunger is oftentimes mistaken for thirst, hydration is key in overeating prevention. Stay well-hydrated throughout the holidays by consuming at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water daily.

Maintain a calorie balance or achieve a deficit by drinking plenty of water. Drinking a glass or two leading up to meals can reduce the opportunity to overfill the stomach with high-calorie foods. Additionally, replacing calorie and sugar-laden soft drinks or alcohol saves a tremendous amount of calories.

What's more, too much alcohol can lead to a myriad of consequences. So to save from countless calories and an unpleasant morning after, stick to one or two servings if deciding to drink. Also drink a glass of water with each alcoholic beverage to combat from dehydration.

3. Use Smaller Plates

A simple tip to control overeating this Thanksgiving, and throughout the year, is by swapping out large plates with smaller ones. Portioning foods out onto small plates helps reduce not only food amount, but can trigger feelings of fullness with lesser amounts.

Numerous studies have collectively shown reducing plate size can reduce food consumption by up to 30 percent! Interestingly, self-serving (or preparing your own plate) has also shown to be effective in portion control.

4. Control and Monitor Portion Sizes

But using smaller plates is only one of the few ways to reduce the risk of overeating. And just because holidays can still be enjoyed, does not mean healthy plating etiquette should be thrown completely out the window.

Continue plating balanced meals throughout the holidays to ensure proper portion control. This includes filling at least half of the plate with veggies, increased roasted broccoli and salad greens. Use a quarter of the plate for lean protein, such as white turkey meat. Use the other quarter for a complex carb or starchy vegetable such as sweet potatoes or a sprouted roll.

Also monitor food portions when enjoying appetizers and desserts. And while they can be enjoyed, be choosey and select the couple you truly desire and ease up on the others.

5. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a rising approach to combat binging and overeating. The practice is essentially a nonjudgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations while eating.

Recognizing the smells, flavors, and textures of foods is a strong foundation of mindful eating. This helps cultivate and increase appreciation towards food. Eating mindfully encourages one to tune into hunger and satiety cues and recognize emotions and behaviors that drive us to food.

Slowing down at meal times helps control portion and serving sizes. How? Because it takes approximately 20 minutes for the mind and stomach to register the "I'm full" feeling.

So rather than scarfing down the plate and heading for seconds, allow the body time to feel full. Chew slowly, savor each bite, and really appreciate those special dishes. Because really, the first bite tastes the same as the last.

6. Embracing Leftovers

In addition to rethinking seconds based on hunger, remember the excitement of leftovers the next days to come!

Instead of eating all the food on Thanksgiving Day, spread it throughout the week. Portion out the leftovers in storage containers to keep meal sizes (and calories) in check. Not only will you save on groceries, but preserve hundreds of calories!

Also do not miss these best Thanksgiving and holiday leftover recipes! Delicious and nutritious ideas include turkey soup, veggie casserole, and spiced oatmeal.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on April 16, 2019.

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