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How to Stop Thanksgiving From Ruining Your Diet

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with the holiday comes a delicious feast full of turkey and all the trimmings. And as many of us know, it’s often the preview to some pesky winter weight gain as well. 

Considering that Thanksgiving falls so close to winter holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s not surprising that many of us feel tempted to indulge in comforting meals and hot chocolate in the days between all the celebrations. A bit of Thanksgiving weight gain is pretty common — after all, it’s a holiday that centers around food — but that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to pack on pound after pound in the next few months. The good news is that you don’t have to deprive yourself in the meantime. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to enjoy your Thanksgiving without letting it ruin your diet for the rest of the year.

1. Prep some healthy dishes in advance.

Just because Thanksgiving is famous for hearty foods doesn’t mean that they all have to be super indulgent. There’s still time for you to cook a couple of healthier side dishes that are still in season, such as mashed pumpkin and Brussels sprouts with bacon bits. This doesn’t mean you have to turn your nose up at the dinner rolls; just save room on your plate for the lighter, healthier sides. Even if you’re on a specific diet, there are plenty of easy recipes available online that offer healthy swaps for the holiday. Heck, even the restrictive keto diet allows for some pretty delicious Thanksgiving keto recipes. But even if you’re not on a strict meal plan, you can still learn how to make Thanksgiving food a little better for you. Why not take advantage of that?

2. Practice mindful eating on the holiday.

As tempting as it might be to nosh on food while watching the Thanksgiving parade or a football game, you won’t be totally present during the meal if you do. This can lead to overeating — well before you’ve even had a chance to touch that pumpkin pie! Make a point to sit down whenever you eat or drink anything on the holiday, and pay close attention to the tastes and textures of the yummy food you’re eating. (Chances are, there aren’t too many days of the year that you get to eat stuffing!) Not only will you appreciate your food more, you’ll also be less likely to get a major bellyache after the meal is done. Good news: It’s surprisingly simple to learn how to regularly practice mindful eating for weight loss long after the holiday is over, too.

3. Remember to take breaks if you need them.

It’s no secret that Thanksgiving can be a bit overwhelming sometimes — even for the most enthusiastic holiday maven. Between having a bunch of different personalities in the same room and needing to entertain all of them, it can be stressful to wonder whether everyone is having a good time. But don’t forget about you in the midst of worrying about everyone else. Stress-eating can really take a toll on your waistline, as well as your overall well-being. That’s pretty much the last thing you want on a day that’s all about practicing gratitude. When you find yourself feeling overburdened, excuse yourself for a few moments to the restroom or another secluded area to collect your thoughts. Maybe even do some simple meditation exercises so you can calm down a bit and allow yourself to enjoy your meal properly. You deserve it!

4. Don’t beat yourself up if you do overeat.

Even if you overdid it on the pumpkin pie, it’s worth keeping in mind that Thanksgiving is just one day out of the whole year. You are not — we repeat not — going to gain 50 pounds from eating just one over-the-top meal. But when we talk down on ourselves after a feast, it can be a one-way ticket to feeling like we’re doomed to keep stuffing our faces until it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, when we stay in a mindset like this one, it can sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Steer away from these negative thoughts by considering all the healthy choices you have the chance to make tomorrow, such as getting a nice pilates workout in or eating a delicious fall salad for lunch. Remember: Every day is a chance to make new choices!

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