Leave those sweatpants at home

15 tips for Thanksgiving feasting

I love Thanksgiving. My whole family (about 30 of us) gathers at my parents' house in Tennessee for a night of feasting, conversation, and reminiscing. (By the way, if you've never been, Tennessee is beautiful but particularly in the fall.) To me, fall means changing leaves, cooler temperatures, football, and turkey day. Each Thanksgiving, I always look forward to stuffing and green bean casserole. As a recovering vegetarian of 10 years - let's forget that one year I tried tofurkey - the veggies are my favorite. But I also love the really good stuff, macaroni and brownies, and it's always a struggle of how much I could and should eat of those things! Maybe it is for you too. If so, I hope these simple tips will help you enjoy Thanksgiving feasting without regretting your choices the next day!

1. Get some exercise prior to your Thanksgiving meal. If you burn extra calories before, it’ll counteract some of those calories you might consume later.

2. Drink a glass or two of water before eating. By doing so, you’ll be less prone to overeat.

3. Slow down. The turkey will not trot off your plate so there’s no need to scarf down the food faster than your mind can recognize the amount you just ate.

4. Determine ahead of time how much you plan to eat – as in only going back for seconds once, picking one dessert, or keeping your portion sizes in check, etc. Tell someone else your plans and ask them to hold you accountable.

5. Carefully consider your choices. Think about how long you’d have to walk, run, or swim to burn that second piece of pie, extra helping of macaroni, or 5 rolls. Then decide whether or not your quantities and portion sizes are really worth it.

6. It’s perfectly fine to not finish your great aunt’s sweet potato casserole. If it wasn’t as good as you were expecting, stop eating it…just don’t let her see! We consume a lot of excess calories simply by eating things we might not actually enjoy.

7. Use a smaller plate. Putting your food on a smaller plate will limit your choices and portion sizes.

8. Cut back on what you eat earlier in the day. This will help you limit excess calories overall.

9. Fill your plate with healthier foods first. Veggies, whole grains, and lean meats then the heavier stuff.

10. Watch your drinks! Extra calories from drinking sweet tea, cokes, alcohol, milk, or juices can quickly rack up. These all contain sugar, which means extra, empty calories. To limit your caloric intake, drink water with your meal.

11. You don’t have to make a happy plate anymore. Maybe you grew up being encouraged to clean your plate. But now, if you’ve had enough, there’s no need to keep eating.

12. Avoid filling your plate with lots of saturated fats – fried food, cheese, cream, butter, pork, and beef. These are heavier foods filled with the type of fat that, in excessive amounts, leads to heart disease.

13. Eat the good stuff. Pass up the store-bought items – they’re probably not as good anyway – and pick foods that are homemade. Even if they’re made with butter and sugar, consuming real foods versus processed foods filled with shady ingredients is always a better choice.

14. Soberly give thanks before your meal. Expressing gratitude for what the Lord has done in your life is commanded in Scripture, not just on Thanksgiving. But on this holiday, we should also thoughtfully consider the blessing of access to large amounts of food. If we recognize hunger and starvation are a normal occurrence for many in the world, we might be less likely to mindlessly consume Thanksgiving dinner.

15. Lastly, be encouraged! There is a difference between feasting and gluttony. Allowing yourself to enjoy good food that happens on a holiday once a year is fine! Habitual overeating and obsession with food indicate gluttonous behavior. So, if this characterizes your eating habits, then check your heart at Thanksgiving. If not, eat your favorite foods, enjoy time with family, and thank our good God for his provision every day of the year.