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Thanksgiving is almost here — a day full of family, friends, and our favorite holiday foods! But for some, this joyful day can be filled with stress and anxiety when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Believe it or not, you can still find balance by making healthy dietary 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 few tips to get you through the day. You can enjoy this season without feeling guilty or like you blew your nutrition goals.

We put together 8 tips to help you have a healthy, happy Thanksgiving so you can enjoy all your holiday favorites.

1 — Don’t skip 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.

2 — Bring a healthy 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!

3 — Choose a healthier drink
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.

4 — Grab a smaller plate
One of the most overlooked strategies to avoid overeating is simply using a smaller plate. This immediately limits the amount of food you can put on it and encourages proper portion sizes. You could also divide your plate using 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: a cup of potatoes (the size of your fist) and a 3-ounce piece of meat (the 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. You might be surprised how full you are if you let your food digest for a little bit.

5 — Avoid mindless grazing
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.

6 — 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!

7 — Enjoy yourself
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!

8 — Burn some calories
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.

We hope everyone has a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving surrounded by friends and family. And remember that just because you choose some healthier options does not mean you have to sacrifice the joy of the holiday season. But if part of the joy is eating the pie, then eat the dang pie. Tomorrow is a new day!

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