Thanksgiving is in a few days and with it comes the struggle to avoid over-eating all the delicious dishes we love to enjoy during the holidays. 

Julia Child had the philosophy that one should eat all good food, but just in small portions.  thanksgiving dinnerThe winter holidays, starting with Thanksgiving (or maybe Halloween?) will offer many temptations, some of them that will be on the table only once a year.  Go ahead and sample the special dishes prepared by your host, but keep these strategies in mind (from Consumer Reports on Health):


    “It’s a common practice to skip early meals on a big day of eating, fasting in advance of the dinner ahead.  But this approach has a high probability of backfiring – people often end up overeating later.  Instead, opt for a sensible morning meal – say, oatmeal, yogurt, and a piece of fruit – and if your celebration is in the end of the day, eat a light lunch midday.  The last thing you want to do is to show up at dinner starving.”

  • START WITH A DRINK…OF WATER, THAT IS – “Your brain sometimes has trouble distinguishing thirst from hunger, so at parties and holiday dinners, sip a glass of water before you have a cocktail or eat anything.  And, if you do drink alcohol, stick to one or two, sipping a glass of seltzer water between each one. That will keep you hydrated and slow your intake.”


    “At cocktail parties, stick to three or so items (or six if the appetizers are doubling as dinner) to keep your calories in check.  Skip the fried foods and go for items like shrimp cocktail, vegetable-stuffed mushrooms, or hummus and veggies.  Before holiday meals, go easy on the munchies.  Do you really need to eat 5 ounces of cheese and then sit down to dinner?”


    “Many Holiday meals are served buffet style, with a variety of dishes on offer.  The typical advice is to have little tastes of everything, but there’s some research that shows this can leave you feeling less satisfied. When you’re exposed to too many different flavors in a meal, you don’t feel as full as quickly and eat more.  My tactic is to choose two or three favorite foods – especially those I don’t get to enjoy year-round.  Food is so much a part of the season; this way the meal feels special and I don’t feel as though I am missing out, (says Amy Keating, M.S., R.D., nutritionist).


    “You’ll fill up on foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals and lower in calories, leaving less room for less healthy stuff.”


    For some families, this is a holiday tradition.  It’s a nice way to bond with relatives and helps you sneak in some activity.  But it also does more.  It takes some time for the brain to recognize how much you’ve eaten. If you go straight from the meal to dessert, you may not realize how full you are – and you’ll probably enjoy dessert more if you aren’t completely stuffed.”


I hope these tips will help you enjoy holiday gatherings with more fun, less guilt!