After the last of the Halloween candy is consumed and crumpled, beer-stained costumes are finally put away, a new wave of excitement grows surrounding the upcoming holiday season—one that is kicked off with a celebration of thanks. Thanksgiving brings families and friends together for appreciation, football and most importantly — copious amounts of food.

Although most of us look forward to stuffing our faces on that last Thursday of November (the average American consumes over 4500 calories on thanksgiving day according to the New York Times), we simultaneously loathe the post-Thanksgiving bloat and weight gain and curse ourselves that we will be better this year. Well, this year is here, so we’ve compiled some of our best tips to make sure you enjoy all the festivities of Thanksgiving without the lingering regret.

Participate in a Turkey Trot.


Photo courtesy of Julio Gonzalez

What better way to start off the day and justify stuffing your face later than running a 5k? Almost all cities offer some version of the Turkey Trot — a road race that takes place Thanksgiving morning. Standard Turkey Trots range from 5ks to 8ks to half marathons! Pick one that suits your running abilities and sign up with friends.

These races are super fun and most come in costume, which makes the run fly by as you people-watch. Not only does encourage exercise and calorie burning, but working out in the morning jumpstarts your metabolism and makes you more likely to make healthier choices throughout the day.

Trade in your mashed potatoes for sweet potatoes.


Photo courtesy of Rebecca Sims

One of the many staples of a quintessential Thanksgiving dinner is a potato dish, often mashed potatoes made creamy through copious amounts of butter and milk. This year try and opt for sweet potatoes instead. Not only do sweet potatoes offer an array of vitamins such as B, C and D, but they are also high in iron and magnesium — two minerals that together offer stress resistance and a boost to your immune system.

Sweet potatoes can be prepared so many ways (without the added butter and cream). You can microwave them, oven bake them with herbs such as rosemary, or even slice them into chips.



Photo courtesy of Mitchell Joyce

Water is already one of the most important things you can give your body but it is especially important when it comes to regulating how much you eat. Before you are about to sit down for dinner, have a glass or two of water. This will fill up your stomach a bit and you’ll feel like you have less room to fill with stuffing, pies and casserole.

Eat breakfast.


Photo by Kristina Kim

We all wake up Thanksgiving morning and salivate over the colossal feast that lies ahead. Many people skip breakfast because they think it will save room and calories for them to indulge happening. This leaves you hungrier which makes you more likely to overeat and more likely to eat sugar-laden, fat-heavy foods. Eating breakfast also boosts your metabolism. Oatmeal is a great option because its low in sugar, fat and calories but fills the stomach.

Skip the gravy.


Photo Courtesy of Glory Foods

Roasted turkey is actually a great source of protein. Because its white meat, its lower in fat and also offers other nutrients like iron zinc and potassium. That being said, the nutrition can be diminished when slabs of turkey are drowned in stuffing and gravy, not only does this up the calorie intake but it also increases sodium consumption drastically, so cut back on the added sauces and toppings and try to keep it simple.

Watch the big game before or after you eat.


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Although a lot of families sit around a table to eat Thanksgiving dinner, some gather round the television for dinner to watch the big football game. Overeating is common while watching the TV because it becomes mindless and you find yourself putting food in your mouth without realizing how much you’ve already consumed. You also lose the chance to appreciate and savor the meal, so do your best to eat either before or after the game seated at a table, not during.

Plate size and color matter.


Photo courtesy of Rosemarie Voegtli

There are a few ways you can manipulate the dining-ware you use to keep from overeating. The first is to grab a smaller plate, the bigger plate you have the more inclined you will be to fill it with food so start with a small plate and after you clear it if you’re still hungry go back for more. Plate color also has been shown to have an effect on the way we eat. Scientists suggest eating off a blue plate to decrease appetite!