How to enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving foods—and still lose weight!

By Mike Roussell, PhD
November 23, 2011

Q: I want to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family but I don't want the big day of eating to sabotage all the hard work I've been putting into losing weight? What are your top 3 tips for making it through Turkey Day?

A: I'm glad that you are going to take the time to enjoy Thanksgiving. Too many hardcore dieters skip holidays like Thanksgiving and wear their actions as some sort of red badge of courage – it is unnecessary. I've focused on adherence and splurge meals in previous columns-make Thanksgiving a planned splurge, follow the 3 tips below, and you won't miss any of your weight-loss targets.

1. Get Active Before the Feast. In his book, Move a Little, Lose a Lot, Dr. James Levine talks about reworking your holidays and celebrations to make them more active. While Thanksgiving is traditionally about family, food, and football, there is no reason it can't be about being active too. All around the country there are ‘Turkey Trots' and other similar 5K races being held-enroll in one. If you don't want to trot, just go for a walk, get in a quick exercise class or weight training workout. By being active in the morning, you'll improve your insulin sensitivity, making your body more ready to handle the calorie onslaught later that day.

2. Don't Make it a 12- or 72-hour Feast. The "holiday creep" is where most people get into trouble. Thanksgiving is technically one big meal. Keep it that way. You risk diet disaster when you let yourself continue to eat like it's Thanksgiving on Friday or even Saturday. Enjoy yourself on Thursday and then get back to your plan.

3. Eat Your Vegetables First. When you sit down to eat your Thanksgiving dinner, reach for the green vegetables first. Eating fibrous green vegetables first will limit the total calories you eat for the duration of the meal. These vegetables are bulky, low in calories, and high in fiber. That translates to slow digestion and making you feel fuller sooner.

Follow these 3 tips and you can enjoy your holiday without sabotaging all your hard work.

Dr. Mike Roussell, PhD, is a nutritional consultant known for his ability to transform complex nutritional concepts into practical habits and strategies for his clientele, which includes professional athletes, executives, food companies, and top fitness facilities. Dr. Mike is the author of Dr. Mike's 7 Step Weight Loss Plan and the upcoming 6 Pillars of Nutrition.

Connect with Dr. Mike to get more simple diet and nutrition tips by following @mikeroussell on Twitter or becoming a fan of his Facebook page .