Smart Strategies for Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the South Beach Diet! Having a plan to help you avoid overdoing it at the dining table today is a good idea, but there’s one strategy that can be a recipe for failure: Fasting before the big meal. Total deprivation can lead to extreme hunger, cravings, and, inevitably, overeating when you do sit down to eat. Fortunately, there are better tactics you can use to sidestep overdoing it on Thanksgiving and throughout the year. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t skip meals and snacks. Enjoy a nutritious South Beach Diet–friendly breakfast and lunch, opting for healthy foods like lean protein, wholesome veggies, good fats from foods like nuts and extra-virgin olive oil, and on Phases 2 and 3, fruits and whole grains. As always, don't forget to include your strategic midmorning and midafternoon snacks. The trick is to continue eating as close to your normal schedule as possible so that you arrive at the holiday meal no hungrier than usual. With hunger pangs squelched, you'll be better able to pass up the unhealthy foods and help yourself to South Beach Diet–friendly options instead (think turkey breast (skip the skin) and plenty of veggies).


  2. Engage in physical activity. Your appetite is suppressed immediately following exercise. Working in some exercise also helps keep blood sugar levels in the normal range, which helps curb cravings. So take a brisk walk around your neighborhood before heading off to your holiday dinner or before your guests arrive. And maybe even work a walk in after the meal, too.


  3. Enlist support. A like-minded spouse, relative, friend, or even a fellow South Beach Diet member on the Message Boards can motivate you to stick with your diet and exercise plan during the holidays. That person can be the friendly voice inside your head — or online or on the telephone — that reminds you to stay the South Beach Diet course. At the very least, your "helper" can encourage you to get back on track should you stray.


  4. Bring snacks along to parties. While there is usually plenty of South Beach Diet–friendly fare to choose from at the Thanksgiving table, pre-dinner appetizers can be another matter entirely. Pack a few healthy snacks to eat before the meal so you don't wind up consuming the chips and dip or full-fat cheeses your hosts may be serving. Or bring your own hors d'oeuvres, like hummus and whole-grain crackers, caponata (an eggplant-based dip), or a colorful fresh veggie platter.


  5. Allow yourself a few indulgences. Go ahead and have a small slice of traditional pumpkin pie, a few pieces of dark chocolate, or whatever family favorite you look forward to during the holidays. Because the South Beach Diet is designed to fit into your lifestyle, you can — and should — enjoy the occasional treat. Just be sure to have a small portion, savor every bite, and get back to following your meal plan first thing in the morning.

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