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Do you ever wish that every day could be Thanksgiving? All the delicious turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, tasty green bean casserole, and mouth-watering pumpkin pie. While your mouth may be saying “Yes,” your waistline is calling out “Whoa!” – and for good reason.

“Thanksgiving can be a real challenge if you are watching your weight, but you don’t have to sabotage your health,” says Dietitian Jennifer Larrivee MS, RD, LDN, Director of Clinical Nutrition for Saint Vincent Hospital. “With a little know-how, you can satisfy your traditional favorites and still enjoy a guilt-free Thanksgiving feast.”

Jennifer offers these tips to help you navigate the buffet table without depriving yourself.

Eat before you eat. This may sound counterproductive, but if you eat a wholesome breakfast and lunch you can avoid overeating at Thanksgiving dinner later. That way you’ll have more control over your appetite because we tend to eat too much when hungry.

Go light on the calories. Many Thanksgiving goodies are loaded with extra fat and sugar, including mashed potatoes with all the butter and sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows. Recipes can be healthier by making a few substitutions, such as fat-free chicken broth to make gravy or plain yogurt in casseroles.

One size doesn’t fit all. Just because certain dishes are offered doesn’t mean you have to sample every one. Avoid the all-you-can-eat mentality and limit yourself to smaller portions if you cannot control the ingredients used in a dish.

Don’t cover your whole plate. There’s no need to pile your plate high with every food that is offered. Look over the buffet table first and then make your selections. Opt for reasonably-sized portions of holiday favorites that are served only once a year. Save room for dessert by skipping seconds.

Eat s-l-o-w-l-y. By savoring and chewing every bite thoroughly and putting your eating utensil down between bites you can enjoy your meal and be satisfied with one plate of food. Leftovers are often better the next day anyway. Pace yourself and eat only until you feel full. Drink plenty of water and try to keep alcohol down to a minimum since calories from alcoholic drinks can add up quickly.

Put down your fork and go for some fresh air. Spread out the food and fun by going for a walk after your main meal and then having dessert later. It’s a great way to get in some exercise and spend quality time with your family.

If you are eating out for your Thanksgiving meal, ask for food that is steamed, grilled or broiled rather than fried or sautéed. Request that sauces and dressing be served on the side, and watch out for super-sized portions that tempt you to eat too much.

By making small adjustments to your holiday meal, you can enjoy Thanksgiving without the guilt. Learning how to prepare healthy meals can significantly improve your health year-round.

For more information on Nutrition Services at MetroWest Medical Center, please visit