GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Thanksgiving day is known as open season to splurge and gorge on time-honored dishes.
The day usually marks the end of good eating habits, as turkey and stuffing give way to the holiday cheer of December festivities, culminating with prime rib on Christmas, and an encore of celebratory feasting and drinking on New Year's Eve.
All the vainglorious huffing and puffing at the gym from January through November is lost after a plaintive fall off the food wagon.
This doesn't have to be your story ... your doom. There are steps you can take to forestall a glutinous affair:
• Sign up for the Turkey Trot or the like - My family makes it a tradition to hike up Mt. Garfield Thanksgiving morning to burn and bank some calories for the big eat. Other years, we've done the trot. Get moving in the morning.
• Modify recipes - Take every opportunity to substitute high calories ingredients with lower calorie ones - fat-free chicken broth, lowfat milk, fat-free sour cream, etc.
• Eat a snack before dinner - Have a salad, protein bar, or cut-up vegetables before the main meal. Chug a half-gallon of water. If you starve yourself before the dinner, you will end up overeating.
• Avoid alcohol and soda - Drink water. Don't waste precious calories on empty calories.
• Portion control - Fill your initial plate judiciously, and skip the seconds.
• Make good choices - White turkey meat, lean ham, mashed potatoes, plain vegetables, pumpkin pie minus the whip cream or ice cream. Skip the turkey skin, gravy and rolls.
• Savor each bite - Eat slowly; chew several times before swallowing each bite.
• Stay busy - The temptation to go back for seconds will be strong. Get up from the table; help clean and dry the dishes; sweep the floor - anything but eating more.
• Leave the leftovers - If you are hosting, then send leftovers away. If you are the visitor, don't take any home. Simple as that. When Thanksgiving is over Nov. 22, it needs to be over and not linger for days after.
• Exercise - Don't give up your exercise routine. Jump right back on the treadmill the next day. Staying on a diet to lose weight is unlikely during the holiday food frenzy, so strive to at least maintain your weight through the holidays; so that when you jump on the scale in January, it won't be so depressing.