Avoiding Thanksgiving Weight Gain

Don't let the holiday wreck your weight loss goals

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Dressing, pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole ... the annual Thanksgiving bounty is something we all look forward to. But if you can't afford the traditional holiday weight gain, this time of the year can leave you running scared. With a few simple changes to your usual approach, you can enjoy the feast without wrapping yourself in those extra pounds.

Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday party season, and restrictive diets can make this time of the year grueling. But it's also the time when most of us gain an extra 1-3 pounds that, unfortunately, tend to become permanent baggage.

The Power of the Plan

You can feast on the food, but this year arm yourself with a plan that will help whittle down the usual 3,500-calorie meal to a more reasonable indulgence. Think ahead to Jan. 1 when you will delight in seeing the needle on the scale right where you left it in November.

Choose a few of the useful weight control-tips below to help you maintain your weight while still enjoying the good cheer and delicious food on Thanksgiving day and the rest of the holiday season.

Preparing for the Big Day

  • Wear a tight-fitting outfit. This will make you less likely to overeat because it becomes too uncomfortable.
  • Don't arrive starving. Eat before the big feast. A small healthful meal with lots of fiber (oatmeal, whole-grain sandwich, salad with beans) keeps you feeling full until dinner.
  • Make time for exercise every day, especially on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Establish some ground rules in advance of the meal that allow you to indulge but not pig out -- for example, only one sliver of dessert.
  • Buddy up with someone who is also trying to keep his or her weight in check.
  • Keep a food journal and write down everything that you eat. This is an incredibly powerful tool, especially when you are tempted to overeat.
  • Start a new family tradition. Take a bike ride, go for a hike, or play tennis Thanksgiving morning.