The holiday season is a time for celebration.  Year after year, most of us pack on at least a pound (some gain more) during the holidays — and keep the extra weight permanently.  Here are some tips to remember for feast day.

Get Active

Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories before you ever indulge in your favorite foods.  Enjoy the holiday by going on walks with the family.  Take a walk early in the day, before having dessert, and then again later in the day.

Eat Breakfast

While you might think it makes sense to save up calories for the big meal, eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite. Start your day with a small but satisfying breakfast — such as an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast, or a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk — so you won’t be starving when you arrive at the gathering.

Lighten Up

Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, make your recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories.

  • Use fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy.
  • Use sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods.
  • Reduce oil and butter wherever you can.
  • Try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.
Police Your Portions

Thanksgiving tables are bountiful with displays of traditional family favorites. Before you fill your plate, survey the buffet table and decide what you’re going to choose. Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.

Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long.  Fill your plate with small portions of holiday favorites, choose foods that are a better and healthier choice, and skip the seconds.

Slowly Savor

Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate full of food. Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber add to the feeling of fullness.

Go Easy on Alcohol

Don’t forget those alcohol calories that can add up quickly.  Enjoy sparkling water between alcoholic drinks.  This way you stay hydrated, limit alcohol calories, and stay sober.

Be Realistic

With busy schedules and so many extra temptations, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.

Focus on Family and Friends

Thanksgiving is not just about the delicious bounty of food.  It’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends while spending quality time together.