It’s been nearly three months at school and finally the time has come to go home and eat literally anything other than dining hall food. On one hand you’re fantasizing about your moms cooking, your towns best bagel place, a slice of buffalo chicken pizza, and of course, Thanksgiving dinner and your grandma's famous marshmallow topped sweet potatoes. On the other hand you’re feeling especially thankful to have avoided the Freshman 15, and do you really want to throw that away on one meal? Read on for some tips on how to enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving dinner and avoid the “inevitable” holiday weight gain.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

It’s everyone’s immediate instinct to just go ahead and fast up until the big meal on Thanksgiving, but this is undoubtedly going to do more harm than good. When the appetizers roll around you’re going to be so famished the concept of self control will fly out the window. Just sit down and enjoy a healthy breakfast with your family. An omelette with some fruit and whole wheat toast, a bowl of oatmeal, or a yogurt parfait make for filling breakfasts that won’t lead to eventual overeating. 

Lindsey Moser

Enjoy a morning workout, or at least go for a walk

Don’t use the holiday as an excuse to be lazy. Head to the gym Thanksgiving morning or grab a family member and go for a morning walk. You’ll feel a lot better later on knowing you accomplished more than just watching the game on your couch.

Relax with the cheese and cracker appetizers

I’m not going to tell you to avoid the cheese plate entirely, because honestly, who’s going to listen to that? But at least be a little mindful of how much you’re eating. On more than one occasion I’ve been so full on cheese and crackers I barely have room for the main meal. This goes for the pigs and blankets too. If you want to munch before the meal stick to the veggie plate.

Balance your plate

Thanksgiving dinner really doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Most spreads feature a good balance of protein, carbs and veggies that make for a healthy Thanksgiving meal. Reach for the turkey, pile up on the veggies and enjoy a serving of sweet potatoes. Just try to avoid the sugar filled cranberry sauce, and go light on the gravy. If your table features cornbread, just say no. Yes it’s delicious, but wouldn’t you rather save those calories for dessert?

Don’t eat seconds just for the hell of it

Ah yes, buffet style. Freedom. You can serve yourself as much food as you want as many times as you want. After you eat that first dish really think to yourself “Am I still hungry?”. You’re almost definitely not. Just because the food is available to you doesn’t mean you have to keep eating it. Pile all your favorites onto your first plate and then just relax until dessert. Your body will thank you later.

Choose one dessert and walk away

Survey the dessert table and choose what appeals to you the most. You don’t have to go ahead and try everything just because someone made it. Grab a slice of pie, or a cookie (or two) and fill up on the fruit platter. More likely than not, there will be leftovers and you can enjoy another piece of pie the next day if you have to. Just don’t shove it all in on one night. You’re bound to leave feeling more uncomfortable than satisfied.

Lindsey Moser

Being home for Thanksgiving break is a time to reconnect with friends, bond with family, and yes, feast. Just remember to be thankful for more than just the food this year.