If you viewed eating as recreation, Thanksgiving might be your favorite day of the year. However, for those of you following a medical weight loss plan, the holiday might feel more like a looming obstacle. How will you survive with your eating plan and lifestyle goals intact? You’ve worked so hard to change your attitudes about food and nutrition!

First of all, remember that one day cannot, and will not, undo all of your progress. So try not to build up so much trepidation over a single holiday! Having said that, you probably do want to get through the day without consuming ten times your normal allotment of calories, so follow these tips to keep your celebration in check.

Substitute healthier options. Turkey breast is less fatty than dark meat, so select your cut carefully. Then, consider healthier variations of popular side dishes; a baked sweet potato instead of sweet potato casserole, fresh cranberry relish rather than canned sauce, green beans sauteed in butter or olive oil rather than the popular casserole option, and so on.

Limit your social visits. Offer to host Thanksgiving at your house, where you can have some control over menu options. Or, at the very least, limit your visits to family and friends so that you aren’t tempted to fill a plate at five different parties. Visit just for dessert (bring a lower-calorie pumpkin pie or baked apples). Or, schedule activities with friends for the next day (such as Black Friday shopping together).

Start an active tradition. There’s no rule that states you must gorge on turkey and take a long nap afterward! Include family-friendly activities within the day, like a hike or bike ride, dancing, playing football in the front yard, or even some active Wii or Xbox Kinect games. Not only will you burn off some of the calories you consume; you’ll consume less because you’re out having fun!

Utilize your standard rules for gatherings. Don’t arrive starving (snack on fresh fruit or veggies before going). Use a small plate. Drink at least one large glass of water before dinner. Don’t stand around chatting beside the buffet table. Put down your silverware between bites. Carry on conversation during dinner. Give yourself twenty minutes to feel full before refilling your plate. You know these rules; they have carried you through many a social situation to weight loss success, and they will serve you well on Thanksgiving, too.

For more information on medical weight loss, give us a call. We can help you put together an eating plan, and offer more specific advice for your situation.