The average American consumes between 3,000 to 5,000 calories during the Thanksgiving meal. Eating almost always takes the place of good health during the holidays, but Thanksgiving does not have to sabotage your health or weight.

It seems like gaining weight during the holiday season is a national pastime. Year after year, most of us pack on at least a pound (some gain more) during the holidays – and keep the extra weight permanently.

Check out these tips for a fit and healthy holiday – without sacrificing flavor or fun. Enjoy the holiday feast without the guilt – or the weight gain. After all, being stuffed is a good idea only if you are a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey!

Workout Before and After the Feast

Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories before you dive into your favorite foods. Take a walk or do a quick kettlebell workout early in the day and then again after dinner. It’s a wonderful way for your family to get physical activity and enjoy the holiday together.

You could also plan some outdoor fun before dinner, like the traditional game of football with the kids. Instead of feeling bloated and lethargic and lonely, try doing a workout the next morning.

Eat Breakfast Before the Big One

While fasting until the big meal might make sense to save up calories, experts say eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite.

Start your day with a small breakfast – such as an egg with a half of a sweet potato. Or you could try Mike Dolce’s Breakfast Bowl so you won’t be starving when you arrive at the feast.

Ditch the Empty Calories

Ditch the Empty Calories Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, make your recipes healthier with less sugar and calories.

There are plenty of ways to make Thanksgiving far healthier. For mashed potatoes,  try mixing in chicken broth, coconut oil, herbs or roasted garlic to perk up the flavor instead of adding in butter or heavy cream.

For green bean casserole, swap out fried onions with toasted almonds for a less-oily alternative, and instead of having cranberry sauce, make a cranberry salad instead.

For dips, use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. The consistency is similar, but yogurt has more protein.

Be an Adult and Practice Self-Restraint

Thanksgiving tables are beautiful displays of traditional family favorites which are always abundant. Before you fill your plate and start gorging, survey the buffet table and decide what you’re going to choose.

Try to select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.

Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long. Fill your plate with small portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable, traditional foods.

If you fill up on those lower caloric density and higher nutrition foods, you’re going to feel full, but not bloated and tired.  It’s a holiday, so indulge a bit if your diet allows it.

But if you’re going to eat dessert, make sure you allot for the calories elsewhere. Don’t go back for that second helping of marshmallow sweet potatoes, and instead spoon some cranberry salad on your plate.

Slow Down and Skip the Seconds

9 Tips To Avoid Thanksgiving Weight Gain

Try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings. Leftovers are much better the next day, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you are less likely to overeat and have more room for a delectable dessert.

Try going for white turkey meat, vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Those tend tend to be the best bets because they are lower in calories. But if you keep your portions small, you can enjoy whatever you like.

Instead of seeing how much you can eat, serve yourself a small, golf-ball-size serving of everything you want – no restrictions – but have only enough to satisfy your stomach without overdoing it.

Savor Every Bite of Turkey Goodness

Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your holiday meal without going overboard on calories.

Go Easy on the Booze, You Lush

Don’t forget those alcohol calories that can add up quickly. Have a glass of wine or a wine spritzer and between alcoholic drinks, (or) enjoy sparkling water. This way you stay hydrated, limit alcohol calories, and stay sober.

Be Realistic

The holiday season is a time for celebration. With busy schedules and so many extra temptations, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.

Shift from a mindset of weight loss to weight maintenance. You will be ahead of the game if you can avoid gaining any weight over the holidays.

Focus on the People Not the Food

Thanksgiving is not just about gorging on delicious bounty of food. It’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends.

Rather than obsess over the food at Thanksgiving, focus your attention on the entire celebration, including the once-a-year sights, sounds, and people at the event.

Instead of sampling each and every appetizer before dinner, walk around and catch up with family and friends.

9 Tips To Avoid Thanksgiving Weight Gain