Have a Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

pumpkin

Thanksgiving is almost here, and we all know what that can mean: lots of great food. But this celebration doesn't have to leave you slumped on the sofa clutching your distended stomach. You can keep your weight-loss efforts on track and enjoy yourself.

It's important to remember that Thanksgiving is just one day, not a whole week. One large meal won't pile on the pounds. But if you are the type who feels guilty after just one sliver of pie, and uses this slip-up as an excuse to go on a week-long binge, it's time to rethink your strategy. Make a plan that includes the special foods for which this holiday is known.

The game plan

Take some time before Thanksgiving to decide which foods you want to enjoy at your meal. It's important to do this before you sit down to eat.

Imagine yourself sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, says Maria Walls, RD, manager of program development for Weight Watchers International. Visualize the spread and decide how you'll fill up your plate. Be sure to include your favorite items so that you don't feel deprived and overeat later.

Here are some more tips for creating a strategy that will work.

Decide how much of a favorite food will satisfy you

If you cannot conceive of eating just a small piece of Aunt Millie's famous pumpkin pie, cut out something else to account for the larger slice.

Select once-a-year foods

Choose to eat dishes that are just served on Thanksgiving; avoid those that show up at every meal. After all, do you really want sweet potatoes topped with melted marshmallows plus an ordinary baked spud?

Just say no

Practice creative ways to say "no" in case you get pressured by others to take seconds (or thirds).

There's always tomorrow

If the meal is at your house, remember that there will be plenty of leftovers. If you won't be able to sleep knowing that there's half a pie in the kitchen, "freeze leftovers immediately or give your guests doggie bags to take home," suggests Walls.

Stop when you're full

Push yourself away from the table when you've had enough. If you're not sitting within arm's length of the biscuits, you'll be less likely to overindulge.

All foods have benefits

Many Thanksgiving foods are packed with nutrients. For example, pumpkin pie is loaded with vitamin A (important for proper vision) and beta-carotene (a potentially powerful antioxidant). Green bean casserole and stuffing contain lots of folic acid (a B vitamin linked to the prevention of birth defects and, possibly, heart disease).

Broaden your focus

Make the holiday about more than just food. Focus on your friends and family and remember what you're thankful for, like wearing a smaller size, more comfortably crossing your legs or feeling more confident about yourself.

And if, despite all your efforts, you end up feeling like you're off the mark, put it all in perspective: "Don't worry about it, just move on," encourages Walls. Tomorrow's a whole new day.

WEIGHT WATCHERS is the registered trademark of Weight Watchers International, Inc. PointsPlus is a trademark of Weight Watchers International, Inc.© 2014 Weight Watchers International, Inc. All rights reserved

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