My Food Rules are a set of five steps to help guide you to choose healthy food, keep you nourished, and keep you satisfied without resorting to Calorie-counting, obsessing, or binging. They are self-regulating. They can be applied anytime you feel hungry, including for Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving, though, has become more than a meal. It has become an all-day eating event. It has become an excuse to eat, and eat, and eat some more. Thanksgiving dinner becomes and all-you-can eat buffet, so an effective strategy to enjoy it is warranted.
My strategy is simple. Take a cue from fine, upscale restaurants. Instead of sheer volume of food, make the focus on quality, presentation, environment, and company with your dinner. Most dinners are more a buffet-style. In that case, pick a (hopefully small plate, if you have that option), and prepare your plate like you would find in a fancy, up-scale restaurant. If turkey is the main food you are eating (if you are a vegetarian, it may be something else), set it on a bed of vegetables (sweet potato, squash, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and other traditional Thanksgiving vegetables). Don't pile your plate full of large scoops of various foods like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Complete the presentation by adding gravy and cranberries. Make your plate look appealing, like the Fillet Mignon below. Eat slowly, putting your fork down with each bite. Drink water before and during your meal (even if you have another beverage, too). You will be surprised that you most likely will feel full and won't want to eat more after you eat that entree.
After the main entree, leave the table. Go for a short walk, do an activity, or just socialize in another room. Allow yourself to enjoy a small piece of dessert. Again, drink your water before and during the dessert (even if you have another beverage). Remember, the first few bites of the desert taste the best. After that, more dessert never tastes or pleases you as much as the first few bites.
These strategies will allow you to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner without overeating or gorging yourself. The food is one part of Thanksgiving and it should be enjoyed. But, the presentation of the food, the warm environment of friends and family, and socialization complete this holiday. Be thankful for what you have, enjoy your time, and feel good about yourself this Thanksgiving with these simple strategies!