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How to Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

‘Tis the season for Thanksgiving, not Thanks-gorging.  Enact Our 7 healthful tips to avoid the holiday feast trap.

Perhaps you’ve spent months being diligent about exercising and eating healthfully. And now the holidays are creeping up faster than a heart rate monitor. How do you stay trimmer than a decorated tree and less stuffed than a turkey come Thanksgiving?

The following suggestions will serve you well from day’s start through end.

1. Drink lots of water and green tea before the feast. You will feel full and less inclined to overeat.

2. Eat your usual breakfast and lunch. Don’t skip a meal thinking you will then be free to make up for lost calories later when the “good stuff” arrives. Inevitably you will be so hungry come THE meal that you will overeat or choose whatever is closest.

3. Mentally sort foods into 3 categories:

  • Food I love and will probably have seconds;
  • Food I like and will take a little just once;
  • Food I don’t need to eat at all.

Planning and paying attention have a definite effect on how much you pile on your plate.

(For more motivation and strategies to keep you on track, click to download our radio episode as a podcast you can listen to while working out – or when avoiding that one weird relative who is coming over Thursday:)

3 Tips to Thrive Through the Holidays

The First Turkey Trot: Real Blunderbusses for the Finish Line!

4. Opt for a salad instead of dinner plate.  You’ll be inclined to eat less.  Most of us are visually triggered, so we stop adding food once our plate looks full, regardless of plate size.

5. Get up from the table when done. Do not sit with food in front of you calling your name á la “Little Shop of Horrors.” And don’t leave food just sitting out. You can end up eating an entire meal’s worth just from picking at the stuff that’s in front of you. Put it away right after the meal (or at least as soon as is politely possible). Your guests will  probably thank you. Ok, maybe thank you.

6. Put your mind over matter. If you’re a person who likes to talk to herself (like Alexandra does), just ask yourself this when you’re filling your plate, “Am I choosing this because I’m hungry or because it tastes good?” We aren’t here to say you “shouldn’t” this or “should” that, but the awareness will help you make a considered decision.

7. Go for a walk. What better way to spend quality time with your favorite rellies or friends than by putting on a jacket and getting outside?

Readers: What tips do you have to share? We’d love to know them, especially with December almost here!

Fill up with fitness solutions and some fun when you subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar. We’ll be ever so Thanksgiving grateful!

Photo credits: via Creative Commons:  RBerteig (jumping turkey),  sassyarts (pilgrims walking)

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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17 Responses to How to Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving

  1. MegG November 19, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    The get up to walk is a really great tip. My in-laws are really good at this after almost every meal, plus the dog enjoys it! Maybe scheduling an activity closely following the end of dinner so guests look forward to that and don’t mind when the plates start to get cleared!
    MegG recently posted..A fun little weekendMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit November 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

      Your in=laws sound fun. That is what we do – we tell everyone that there’s a beach walk scheduled and that everyone is going! We don’t say there’s another option!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Holiday Fitness Gift ListMy Profile

  2. Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family November 19, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    LOVE all these tips. Especially the idea of sorting food into categories. Thanks for sharing!
    Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family recently posted..Giant Treadmill Hill WorkoutMy Profile

  3. Elle November 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Some really good tips.

    I usually don’t overdo at the holiday season as I know I can have whatever I want whenever I want all year round so I tend not to eat like its’ leaving the planet.

    Having said that, there are some things that only roll around this time of year and I enjoy one or two bites… for example, I NEVER get pecan pie, but if someone offered me a piece, I would enjoy a sliver immensely, savoiring every little nibble.

    But why go overboard on chocolate or things I can have ANY time?
    Elle recently posted..Goodbye Gluten … We are Never Ever Getting Back TogetherMy Profile

  4. Jody - Fit at 54 November 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Such good advice to share! I have definitely changed my perspective on holidays from when I was younger & it was all about eat it up cause I can’t have it again till next year. I know that if I really want something, I can have it as long as I get back to basics.. and honestly, I don’t really crave some of the stuff on that holiday table. I tend to eat my healthy stuff – turkey & veggies (seasoned for me so my family always knows to leave some dry for me) & I plan for the couple things I really want to splurge on. It used to be so much about the food but it less so now.

    I agree – eat your early meals too otherwise you are definitely prone to way overeating later! :)

    For me, something has to be a 9.5 or 10 out of 10 for me to splurge on. I don’t eat it just because it is there.

    I also recall the eating too much days & how bad I felt physically after it – my tummy felt like crap so no more of that! ;)
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted..Gratitude Monday & Huge Thx!!!My Profile

  5. Tamara November 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    We aim to eat a bit earlier than usual, so there’s time for a walk and some digestion before bed. I have to be very mindful around stuffing; I can pick and pick and pick at the little bits around the edge of the bowl and the turkey until I’m the one who’s stuffed.

    Since my hubby and kids are US-Canadian hybrids, we celebrate 2 Thanksgiving’s every year. I’m cooking turkey on Saturday!
    Tamara recently posted..Need motivation to exercise? Look within!My Profile

  6. Debbie@ Live from La Quinta November 19, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Great tips. Taking a walk after dinner is a great idea. Everybody can benefit from it. Also running a Turkey Trot in the morning is helpful too! (we just happen to be putting one on in my town :-).

    I always tell my clients that the big problem is not the Thanksgiving feast in and of itself. It is that we then to think of it as the kick off to a holiday season of eating that doesn’t end until January 1st. I say, enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner, then return to normal eating for the next six weeks.
    Debbie@ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Native Foods Is Back! Palm Springs Grand Pre-OpeningMy Profile

  7. Lisa @ RunWiki November 20, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    Such great ideas! I always keep a tray of veggies (minus the dip) around and load up prior to my meal… It works like a charm in preventing the binge when you sit down to eat. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Malibu Marathon Race Recap- November 2012My Profile

  8. joann November 20, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    I could care less about the food on Thanksgiving. I’m the only one cooking, and by the end of the day I’m sick of it, lol.

    But I do have a downfall. Fresh polebeans. We can only get them at this time of year, and no one else eats them.

    So my dinner will be polebeans. I might eat a piece of pie, depends on my mood. Unfortunately, if I do have the pie, I’ll put half a can of Reddiwhip on it!
    joann recently posted..How do you wash your brushes?My Profile

  9. Danielle @ Itsaharleyyylife November 20, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    great tips! I told myself I’m only making one plate!
    Danielle @ Itsaharleyyylife recently posted..Magical Jelly BeansMy Profile

  10. Tina @ Best Body Fitness November 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    The categories one is perfect! I like the thought of breaking things down like that so that way it’s a conscious choice of going for waht you really enjoy and what will truly satisfy. Great post all around!
    Tina @ Best Body Fitness recently posted..#RnRNOLA Training: Week 2My Profile

  11. Nicholle Olores November 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Great tips ahead. Thanksgiving is the grand day of everybody. It is important to have also a walk so that you will not get bored.
    Nicholle Olores recently posted..Some Safety Tips for Home RenovatorsMy Profile


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