It’s that time of year again! It may seem a bit cliche, but after years of dealing with holiday eating guilt, both personally and professionally, I feel the urge to put my two cents worth in on the subject. So here it is…….

The problem with Thanksgiving Dinner is this: approximately 3,000 calories and 200 plus grams of fat later, which is the average total calorie and fat content of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, the festivities keep on, resulting in more calorie consumption, and—cha ching—extra pounds!

The statistics vary, but on the whole the average American gains between two to six pounds over the Holidays. Thirty-five hundred calories make one pound, so all it takes is 500 extra calories a day over a week and there are your extra pounds.

Eating Tips

These eating tips from several experts can help you avoid putting on extra pounds altogether in the coming weeks.

No. 1: Commit to eating one serving of food on your plate without going back for seconds or thirds.

Portion Control

Control portion sizes by mentally dividing a 12-inch dinner plate into three sections of three-inch-sized circles. Each circle represents one food group: Proteins, vegetables and starches. Secondly, ask yourself, what type of eater are you?

Some persons like to eat a lot of one food group; others prefer choices. The key is to stay within your circle for each food group.

So if you’re a turkey lover, load up one three-inch circle with turkey meat. If you want turkey and ham, choose less of both to stay within your portion size. Also, if Thanksgiving is the only time of the year you eat stuffing, really enjoy that and don’t eat foods you always eat throughout the year. Finally, bring your own low-cal side dish or veggie tray to the party, if you’re worried about the food choices. This way, you have your own healthy dish to fall back on.

Fight Against Overeating

One sure way to overeat at the Thanksgiving dinner table is to skip breakfast and lunch. A lot of people try to save up calories for the big meal, and really, our bodies aren’t meant to handle 2,500 to 3,000 all at once. The body can process about 700 calories at once. Excess calories tend to be stored and can turn to fat. Keep your calorie consumption and blood sugar levels constant throughout the day, instead of loading up all at once.

Also, left-over foods are great for next-day turkey sandwiches and light dinners, but all in moderation. Drink plenty of water to fill you up and to offset dehydration after consuming alcohol and caffeinated drinks. I walk around the room and drink water all night. It fills you up and you’ll eat less.

Come up with a pre-Thanksgiving day verbiage plan for turning down foods in a way that will prevent hurt feelings.

Be Active

Government regulations prescribe 60-to-90 minutes of daily, low-to-moderate physical activity for controlling and maintaining a normal body weight. That recommendation is especially critical during the Holiday season when it’s tempting to eat more and exercise less.

Start Thanksgiving Day with a run, bike ride, or a gym routine or whatever physical activity gets your blood flowing and heart pumping. Even travel during Thanksgiving day is no excuse for skipping physical activity.

Going for a walk between appetizers and lunch and dessert is also a good idea. Family walks, playing Twister or dancing indoors with family and friends shave off calories, are fun and stimulate conversation.

Remember, Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be stale or boring to keep with tradition. There is no need to kick off the holiday season with a sense of resignation and entitlement to splurge. Nutrition experts remind people that besides the added padding, six weeks of overdosing on fats and cholesterol can really wreck havoc on people’s hearts, brains and every other body part.

The holidays should be about friends and family. Food is a side note. What it comes down to is that people have to decide how important it is to them to maintain their current weight and continue a healthy lifestyle plan throughout the holidays. Don’t Deny Yourself, but have a plan, and stick to it!

The holidays are to be enjoyed, without question. But to maintain your good health and to avoid backtracking on the progress you have made so far, make a plan to treat yourself, within moderation, on special occasions and at special events. Do not keep holiday treats in your kitchen where you will be tempted. Avoid seconds, thirds, and “just one more bites..” Enjoy the holidays without the guilt, (and the bloating!!! )

Be healthy, get fit, stay strong!