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10 Ways to Survive Thanksgiving Without Having To Unbutton Your Pants

1. Eat before the big meal.
Yes, you read that correctly! Showing up for the feast with a rumbling tummy is a recipe for over-eating, so be sure to pre-game by having some low-calorie mini-meals or snacks earlier in the day. Bank calories for the big meal, but don’t fast all day.

2. Dress to impress.
Save your baggy, comfy clothes for running errands. On Thanksgiving, break out a form-fitting garment — think skinny jeans or a curve-hugging dress. You’ll be less likely to overeat if you’re wearing something a little snug, because you’ll start feeling uncomfortable more quickly. And bust out the holiday make up and hairstyle! When you feel prettier, you eat better.  When I can make it through the meal without having to undo the top button of my pants, I know I’m in good shape.

3. Make single-size versions of decadent dishes.
Want to be the perfect host? Add flair to the table and stop everyone, including you, from overdoing it by offering individual portions of the fattiest items on the menu. For instance, bake stuffing in cups of a muffin pan; serve cranberry sauce in individual ramekins: ladle creamy soups into espresso cups; serve gravy in shot glasses, and bake pumpkin cupcakes instead of serving a pie. Pre-sizing eliminates the opportunity to spoon piles on your plate. And your buffet will look like a Martha Stewart magazine cover!

4. Don’t worry, be picky.
Before sitting down at the dinner table, have a few favorite foods in mind that you plan to indulge in — and don’t be afraid to change course if the first taste proves to be a 5 rather than a 10! If it isn’t everything you’d hoped it would be, don’t waste calories on it. Wouldn’t you rather fill up on delicious fare rather than an average dish?

5. Make some food swaps.
Can’t limit yourself to a small scoop of buttery spuds? Then bypass them entirely in favor of cauliflower. For a delicious stand-in, boil cauliflower, mash it, and add a little skim milk, light butter spread and garlic. The similar texture and color will trick you into thinking you’re getting the real thing. I always bake a sweet potato for myself (and any guests who request it), and enjoy that as my personal alternative to sweet potato pie. There are tons of recipes for “faux” Thanksgiving fare online! (Check out my blog from November 8th for easy cauliflower stuffing on lyssaweiss.com).

6. Mix up a 45-calorie cocktail.
If liquor and dessert are equally essential to you enjoying the holiday, at least choose your libation wisely. For a mere 45 calories you can have a “Skinny Spritzer”:  Simply combine 1 cup sparkling water, 2 ounces vodka, 1 tablespoon grapefruit juice and 6 raspberries. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

7. Eat off colorful plates.
Research has found that the more contrast between your food and plate color, the less you’ll eat. Leave the fancy white china in the cabinet. You’ll likely eat more when light-colored foods, such as turkey and mashed potatoes, are served on white or cream plates.

8. Go to the back of the line.
Heading to a holiday buffet? Be selfishly polite and let others get their fill first. Once the food has been picked over it won’t seem nearly as enticing. Plus, there is no bigger bummer than being finished with your meal and then watching someone sit down with a full plate of food. It’s why so many of us go up for seconds! As hard as it may be, fight the urge to be number one.

9. Draw a clear finish line.
Once you’ve had your fair share, reach for peppermint mints or gum to prevent you from picking at whatever’s in front of you. Reapplying your lip-gloss helps, too. Another trick: Pour some water or pepper on your plate so you won’t want to use it anymore — just make sure no one’s watching.

10. Join the cleanup crew.
Getting away from the table sooner rather than later can save hundreds of calories. And keeping your hands busy with dishes helps to keep them from mindlessly reaching for extra munches. Plus your host will be grateful!

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