For many people, Thanksgiving means time with family and friends, football, and food. Over the course of the long weekend, many people find themselves at several Thanksgiving-style dinners, which means a lot of food and the opportunity to overeat. But you don’t have to pack on the pounds this holiday season. With these 5 tips to keep the weight off this Thanksgiving, you will be in control of your eating and will be able to stay healthy while still enjoying the holiday.

1) Drink More Water And Less Alcohol And Soda

During the holidays, you will find there is the opportunity to over drink both alcohol and sugary sodas. Skip the sugar and carbohydrate-filled drinks and reach for water instead. Water is cheap, calorie-free and very good for your body. Often, when people are bored or thirsty, it gets mistaken for hunger. Curb your inclination to eat and grab more water to drink. When you’re hydrated, you’re less likely to overeat because your stomach will be filled with water, which acts as a great natural appetite suppressant. When you’re properly hydrated, your body is able to work properly by efficiently breaking down what you do eat, so it’s especially important to drink water during times where you might be eating more than normal. If you’re drinking water from a tap, you also save money as it is often free, so drink up and keep from overindulging in the first place.

2) Eat Low Carb Food

Eating healthy during Thanksgiving can be a challenge when there are so many delicious dishes to pick from. When you overeat dishes that are full of sugar and carbs (like sweet potatoes with marshmallows), the extra carbohydrates that your body doesn’t use get stored as fat. Eating a high carb, high sugar diet will lead to a bevy of health problems, including weight gain. But you can do yourself a favor by eating dishes that are rich in nutrients (like steamed, green vegetables), or low in carbohydrates. Meat dishes that are free from sugar (not glazed), like roast, chicken or turkey, are great, high protein, low carb dishes that you can indulge in. You can also seek out snacks like cheese and dill pickles. A little knowledge goes a long way, so commit yourself to being healthy by keeping aware of what you’re eating and you won’t find yourself gaining extra pounds during Thanksgiving.

3) Bring A Healthy Dish

Another great way to control what you eat is by bringing a dish (or dishes) that you know you can eat without worrying about your waistline. Make sure you check with your host first so you don’t double up on dishes or offend anyone. It might also be worth it to mention that you are eating healthy this Thanksgiving and want to bring something to contribute, but also so that the host doesn’t have to cater to your specific eating habits. Alternatively, you can simply eat less than you normally would. Often, the problem with Thanksgiving is that people go back for seconds, and thirds, and don’t know when to quit. If you can, bring a dish with you that is high in fiber, so that you feel fuller faster when eating it. You can also start out by eating the “good” food first, so the low carb, low sugar, high protein dishes. If you fill up on healthy food first, you’ll have less room for the junk later.

4) Commit To Exercising With The Family

If you don’t think you can resist the temptation of overeating, then commit to exercising with your family. Overeating, combined with a lack of exercise, leads to a very unhealthy lifestyle. Before Thanksgiving hits, make it habit to go for an evening stroll after dinner. This will help use up the calories you just ate and also help make walking a part of your daily routine. During Thanksgiving parties, it might be a challenge to sneak away for a walk, but you can go for a walk before heading to the event. Try to keep your regular routine as much as possible and it will help your body be ready to digest your food and use up all the calories you’ve eaten. Keeping active will go a long way to keeping your waistline slim, so set a good example for your family and make exercising a priority.

5) Cut Out The Sweets

Cutting out sweets is one of the more challenging aspects of Thanksgiving. Between pies, sugary dinner dishes, and soda, most people get way more than the recommended daily intake of sugar during the holidays. Make a commitment to yourself and your health to cut out the sugary treats, foods, and drinks. If you are already following the water tip, this will help with curbing sugar cravings by keeping you full and your body properly satiated with water. If you know you can’t resist that pecan pie, then eat a third of what you would normally eat and don’t go back for seconds. Portion control is a real problem with many individuals, as they have no idea what an actual portion should look like for them–especially when it comes to sweets. Eat until you are not hungry, not until you are stuffed full and get used to telling the difference. If you are aware of what your body actually needs, then you are less likely to overeat.

Thanksgiving is a great time for getting together with family and friends, but it is also a time where people feel they have an excuse to overindulge, and then pay the price for it later with extra pounds. Over time, these eating habits build up so many individuals get to the point where they always have an excuse to overeat. Curb these bad habits and use these 5 tips to keep the weight off this Thanksgiving now and all year long. Your waistline and your health will thank you.

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