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The Holidays are upon us once again, and while they make for wonderful occasions filled with warm wishes and a chance to get together with family they also have become a nightmare for most of us when it comes to overeating and increasing waistlines.

I am far from fanatical when it comes to “diets”.  My personal mantra is to live in moderation.  Be willing to compromise and go with the flow.  When it comes to Holiday meals that means go ahead and indulge yourself.  I mean it’s the holidays and they only come around once a year.  How many other times do you get to come together and enjoy yourself with all these wonderful foods and drinks.

So, for me, it’s a time that its ok to overdo it a little.  But because I know I am going to eat a little too much and grab some not so healthy options I try to take some easy steps that help to moderate this over indulgence without making it seem like I am on a “diet” or restricting myself.

While “Healthy Thanksgiving” doesn’t quite have the appeal of the more familiar “Happy Thanksgiving” greeting, I used it here to make the point that Thanksgiving dinner (and many other holiday meals) doesn’t have to be an unhealthy affair.

After all, there is a lot to like about the ingredients in Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey can be a healthy, low-fat meat, if prepared correctly. Sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash and pumpkin are all loaded with vitamin A and other important nutrients. And cranberries are a nutrition powerhouse.

Here are some tips to make your Thanksgiving meal one that contributes to your health:

1) Skip the basting. Choose a plain bird and cook in a bag to seal in the moisture. Remove the skin before serving.

2) Refrigerate the turkey juices and skim off the hardened fat before making gravy and use a gravy cup that pours from the bottom to minimize fat.

3) Use ingredients like whole wheat bread, vegetables, fruits (cranberries, raisins, dates or apples), nuts and your favorite spices for the stuffing and bake it in the oven rather than in the turkey.

4) Serve your sweet potatoes or yams baked rather than candied and let your guests add butter to taste.

5) Use skim milk or buttermilk rather than whole milk and skip the butter for your mashed potatoes.

6) Give your meal gourmet appeal by cooking your green vegetables with garlic, nuts and herbs rather than creamy or fat-laden sauces.

7) Don’t serve the meal on your largest plates. By using smaller plates you ensure smaller portion size and even that second helping isn’t quite so damaging.

8) Use the Cinch meal replacement products for one or more meals the day before and/or after Thanksgiving so that your total caloric intake over the three day period is not excessive.

By now you have the idea. There are lots of little things that you can do to make your Thanksgiving dinner one that your waist and your heart will thank you for.

Bon Appetit and have a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving!

(I would like to thank Dr. Stephen G Chaney for many of the meal suggestions on this page.)