Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family, be grateful for all we have, and stuff ourselves silly. I’m not that concerned about the long term consequences of this. As I’ve said before, a single day of excess isn’t going to make you gain weight any more than a one-day juice fast is going to make you lose weight.
Nonetheless, it’s no fun to push yourself away from the table and realize – too late! – that you’ve eaten to the point of discomfort.
Here are 5 strategies that can help you enjoy this year’s feast without regrets:.
Thanksgiving Tip #1: Keep the Appetizers Light
The traditional Thanksgiving menu features a lot of heavy, rich dishes – lots of starches, creamy casseroles, and everything is dripping with butter and gravy. It’s not a light meal. Unfortunately, the pre-dinner snacks tend to be just as heavy and rich as the main event! All too often people sit down to dinner already half-full from the snacks they’ve been nibbling all afternoon while dinner is prepared.
Rather than filling up on calorie-dense appetizers like cheese and crackers, clam dip, nuts, and bacon-wrapped pineapple chunks, keep the pre-dinner snacks light: crisp radishes and snow peas with a yogurt based dip, kale chips, and steamed edamame, for example. Clearing away all the snacks about an hour before dinner will also help ensure that people sit down to the table with an appetite.
Thanksgiving Tip #2: Use Smaller Plates
Research shows that when we use smaller plates, we serve ourselves smaller portions, consume fewer calories, but feel just as satisfied as we do after eating more calories off of larger plates. Now consider that the average size of dinner plates has gone from 9 to 13 inches over the last 30 years and our rising rates of obesity don’t seem that surprising.
See also: Why We Overeat
Do yourself and your guests a favor by setting the table with smaller plates. Grandma’s china is probably a lot smaller than your modern dinnerware. Alternatively, the salad or sandwich plates from your oversized set might be perfect. The same holds true for things like wine glasses and forks: They larger they are, the more we consume. Downsizing your serving ware will not only help you eat a bit less without even noticing, It’ll also make your table less crowded.