5 Tips to Avoid Overeating at Thanksgiving

You can still enjoy your favorite dishes—without packing on the pounds.

Your Thanksgiving meal doesn't have to end with heartburn and a bloated stomach. From nibbling on snacks all day to filling your plate with the right foods, there are a few easy tips to follow to avoid overeating. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

At Thanksgiving, we’re grateful for a lot of things: delicious turkey, a heaping pile of mashed potatoes, and Grandma’s apple pie, to name a few. Things we’re not so pleased with? The stomach ache, way-too-tight jeans, and feeling of regret after stuffing our faces. While we’d never tell you to miss out on all the food fun this Thursday, we can offer advice on how to enjoy your favorite dishes without packing on the pounds. Read on for tips to avoid overeating from local dietitian Danielle Omar.

Upgrade your not-so-healthy favorite dishes: The first step is to cook and bake food you will still enjoy eating, but guilt-free, says Omar. “This may require reframing some of your old favorites, but it’s worth it to find a new, healthier upgrade to that sugar-laden sweet potato dish.” Need some tips? We have a slew of healthy Thanksgiving recipes, including a whole-grain apple crisp, fruit-packed cranberry sauce, and gluten-free options. Don’t have a say in what goes on the table? Read on for more suggestions.

Eat lowest-calorie food first: There’s no harm in filling up your plate—just make sure it’s mostly stacked with vegetables or salad. Half of the plate should be low-calorie foods, and the remaining half your carbs and protein, Omar explains. “Eat the veggies and salad first, probably the protein next, and last, the high-fat, high-calorie carbs.” That way you’ll feel full and satisfied quicker. By the time you hit the calorie bombs, you’ll only have room for a bite or two.

Don’t fast all day: It’s a bit of a no brainer, but fasting until 6 PM Thursday only means one thing: overeating. (Plus no one likes a hungry, cranky relative.) Instead of starving yourself, be sure to stay plenty hydrated (water will keep you full) and have a few of those yummy appetizers so you don’t overdo it at the dinner table.

Work out before the meal: But make sure it’s at high intensity. While it’s true that exercising increases our appetite in the long run, working out at high intensity can actually delay our hunger pangs for a while. At the very least, running a local Turkey Trot or cleaning up around the house will burn enough calories that you won’t feel too guilty about that second—or third—helping.

Eat dessert for breakfast: Probably our favorite piece of advice Omar has to offer is to save those delicious desserts for breakfast. “Enjoy your pie at breakfast when you have the whole day to burn it off,” she says. In fact, research shows that eating dessert for breakfast can actually help you lose weight.