How not to get stuffed on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is about being thankful, not about exploding.

Before you dig into that third piece of pie, remember that the turkey should be stuffed, not you.

There will be a cornucopia of tempting, high-calorie side dishes spread before you. You don’t have to eat them all. You need a strategy for reasonable indulgence — a strategy that you can use repeatedly this holiday season.

Dr. Felicia Stoler, a New Jersey mother of three and author of “Living Skinny in Fat Genes,” suggests this game plan:

  • Get a full night’s sleep the night before. Thanksgiving Day will likely be stressful, and a lack of sleep will take its toll.
  • Eat breakfast. Don’t save up for the big meal. Eating right away in the morning will help get your metabolism moving, and prevent you from overeating later in the day.
  • Work out. This is another metabolism booster. It is easier to have the motivation to exercise right when you wake up, rather than after a heavy meal that makes you sleepy. Don’t have time to hit the gym? Don’t worry, household chores and cleaning count!
  • Drink water throughout the day.
  • Put on your normal jeans, not those baggy sweats that are a size too large.
  • Season dishes with fresh herbs if possible. Try making some dishes with a little kick. Spicy foods are harder to eat in excess.
  • Wait at least a half-hour between dinner and dessert. Your brain will have time to get the message to your stomach that you are full, and you won’t eat as much dessert (or any).
  • Take a post-dinner walk. If you are still awake and able to move, an after-dinner walk is a great way to speed up digestion.
  • Buy a turkey that is 100 percent bird, preferably an organic pasture-raised bird from a local farmer. Most store-bought frozen turkeys have been injected with a solution containing sugar, salt and artificial flavorings.
  • If you fry your bird, use an oil with a high smoke point. (Trust us, it’s better for you.)
  • That familiar stuffing in the red box contains partially hydrogenated oils. Instead, make your own stuffing. Have your little ones help by tearing up day-old bread the night before.
  • Pass up the canned crescent rolls: Refrigerated dough products, including crescent rolls, often contain partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Avoid the gravy packets. Prepare your own gravy by whisking a few tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into the turkey drippings.

Atlanta nutritionist and author Dr. Keith Kantor also adds these suggestions:

  • Load your plate with protein (turkey, ham, roast, etc.) and non-starchy vegetables like green beans, greens, carrots and broccoli. Leave only a quarter of your plate for the starchy vegetables like potatoes.
  • Share dessert or get small portions of what is offered. Taste, don’t binge.
  • Go for the low-sugar cocktails and alternate them with a glass of water, if possible. Wine and light beer are lower in calories than margaritas.
  • Give away your leftovers.

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