Surviving Thanksgiving dinner without derailing a healthy diet

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Of all holidays, Thanksgiving is the one most focused on food. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Many individuals who want to stick to their nutritional goals may look at the annual tradition and think of all of the foods they'll need to avoid. But the truth is, you can actually enjoy your Thanksgiving favorites and still meet your nutrition and fitness goals.

Experts at Saint Thomas Health offer the following pieces of advice to help you practice the fine art of eating well during food-heavy holidays:

1. Instead of outlawing food, go with a smaller size. Outlawing certain foods contributes to an unhealthy relationship with food and can lead to binge eating and strong feelings of guilt. If a particular food is your favorite--and especially if you only get to experience it once a year--enjoy it. Be mindful of portion size and try not to overindulge. A few bites of your favorite dish is more satisfying than total avoidance and a guilty conscience.

2. Balance your meal with macronutrients. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are macronutrients, and your body needs all three. To function normally and in good health, our bodies require these energy-yielding nutrients in large amounts and well-balanced proportions. Ideally, your meals - including your Thanksgiving meal - should consist of 50 percent vegetables, 25 percent carbohydrates like whole grains, and 25 percent lean protein--like turkey and chicken--and healthy fats which can help you feel full. No matter what size the plate, if you're filling half of it with fruits and vegetables, that is going to be a lower-calorie, more nutritious option.

3. Boost the nutritional value of your Thanksgiving favorites. There are endless ways to tweak traditional Thanksgiving recipes that will help to pack more vitamins and nutrients into some of your favorites. For example, you can make nutrition-packed squash and sweet potato and pumpkin recipes that will help you load up on Vitamin A. As a lean protein, turkey can provide a number of benefits for those seeking a heart-healthy diet. You can also find ways to fill up your plate with colorful, vitamin-rich vegetables--collard greens, roasted veggies and crisp lettuce salad.

4. Remember: Food is fuel for movement--even if you overeat. On days when you eat more than normal, find creative ways to move around more - whether it involves cleaning around the house, playing games outside, taking the stairs, walking or working out.

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