Thanksgiving Day tends not to be the most calorically-friendly day of the year, but it’s important not to go overboard. 

Remember, research shows the average adult weight gain through the holiday season is slight, but it sticks with you. A pound or two annually can equal 25 to 30 over the course of adulthood.

Though the average Thanksgiving feast delivers thousands of calories, a few easy substitutions can make all the difference. Navigate your way through the plethora of Thanksgiving offerings with these tips:

 A traditional Thanksgiving dinner is full of wonderfully nutritious foods that we tend to make as calorically-dense as possible. Getting back to basics can help save preparation time and calories!

There are also ways to increase the nutrition for the feast in your home.

• For the stuffing, use ingredients like whole wheat bread, chicken broth, and sautéed veggies (celery, onions, mushrooms, etc.) in place of their fattier counterparts. You’ll save calories and increase fiber.

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• Skip the canned cranberries for an easy fresh version like this one, just 48 calories per serving!

The F-Factor Cran-Berries Sauce

Ingredients:

• 1 10-oz. bag fresh cranberries
• 1 cup water
• 7 ¼ tsp. agave syrup (just over 2 Tbsp.)
• 1 10-oz bag frozen blueberries (defrosted)
• 1 small can crushed pineapple in natural juice

Directions:

1. Place cranberries, water, and syrup in a medium-sized pot.
2. Bring ingredients to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
3. Remove pot from stove and mix in blueberries and pineapple.
4. Place in a container and chill in the refrigerator until needed.

• If turkey is on the menu, remember white meat trumps dark meat. It’s lower in calories and saturated fat, plus provides a great source of lean protein.

• Sweet potatoes are tasty just the way they are. Rather than make a casserole out of them, serve them plain. It’s lower maintenance, more nutritious, and still delicious. Get creative with spices (pumpkin pie spice, anyone?) to bring out natural flavors.

• Think outside the green bean casserole box. The fried onions on top and the cream of mushroom soup throughout is a calorically expensive way to eat a veggie. Try steamed green beans, Brussels sprouts or asparagus instead. You could even drizzle with a light vinaigrette.

Tips For Thursday:

Stick to your schedule. By eating normally throughout the day, you can set yourself up for success for the big meal much more easily than choosing to “save room.” Eating on a schedule will also minimize “taste tests” throughout the day.

Make choices. Choose carefully between drinks, appetizers, second helpings, and desserts. For example, choose between appetizers OR desserts, but not both. Use small plates to your advantage in helping control portion sizes.

Be a good conversationalist. When you’re doing some of the talking and lots of active listening, you’ll have less time to overeat.

Most of all don’t be too hard on yourself if you do too much splurging. Get back to your routine ASAP to avoid other holiday pitfalls and the unwanted winter pounds that come with.

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of www.SkinnyintheCity.com. She is also the creator of The F-Factor Diet™, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto www.FFactorDiet.com.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.

Subscribe to Tanya’s FREE Weekly Newsletter and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To learn more about Tanya’s private nutrition counseling services visit www.ffactor.com.