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Tips for eating less at Thanksgiving without missing out on your favorite dishes

Posted at 5:05 PM, Nov 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-21 12:40:16-05

Rumor has it that a typical American eats around 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving.  That`s an exaggeration.  But even with the more realistic number of 2,500 calories at one meal, Thanksgiving becomes a painful study in excess calories.  Here are some tips from nutritionist Trish Brimhall on how to eat less at Thanksgiving without overhauling or skipping your favorite dishes.

  • Buffet all the way! Keeping the food at a slight distance from your plate makes dishing up an intentional, mindful act.  Having to get up from the table to refill your plate means you`ll most likely think twice before cramming in un-needed second helpings.
  • Veg-out first.  No, this is not the call of the couch potato, instead, serve salads, veggies and other nutrient-dense, but calorie light foods first.  Filling up more on veggies will keep the higher caloric options in better.
  • Downsize your plate.  If you can choose dishes with smaller plates, do so.  Plate size has increased right along with American`s waistlines - coincidence? I think not.  An 8 inch dinner plate is optimal for normal portion-size control, but if you struggle to find 8 inch plates, don`t choose anything larger than 9-10 inch plates.
  • Cut calories with color.  The color of your plate may actually make a difference in how much food you end up eating.  More contrast between the plate and the food means you`ll eat less, whereas a plate that blends in with the food will increase your chances of eating more.
  • Slow down the meal with fun conversation.  Thanksgiving is a time to reconnect with family - so play that up at the dinner table.  If we converse more at mealtime, we eat slower and eat fewer calories.  If you have already moved the food to the buffet, you`ll have plenty of space on the table for creative conversation starters.  Consider incorporating family photos or mementos in the centerpiece of your table.  A kid`s table would really enjoy a few fun family trivia questions, or even some 'would you rather. . .' questions on the back sides of their place cards.
  • Think sliver not slice.  By the time dessert rolls around, most guests are fairly full.  Double the number of slices in your pies to allow guests to enjoy just a sliver, or perhaps try more than one without going overboard on dessert.
  • Thanksgiving can be a festive, healthful and traditional meal without the painful fallout of overdoing it.