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Nine tips for a healthier Thanksgiving

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On Thanksgiving, it's tradition to snack before dinner, fill up on turkey and then finish off with a helping of dessert. There's no denying that this holiday can be a real diet buster; according to research, the average American celebrates by downing twice the recommended amount of daily calories. Instead of going for all-out gluttony on Thursday, follow my foolproof tips and enjoy Thanksgiving Day without the regret.

1. Eat breakfast
Rather than save yourself for one big meal, have protein and fiber in the morning to give you staying power and appetite control. For example, try an egg with oatmeal so you won't be starving by the time you arrive at your gathering. If you're the cook and plan to get up extra early to braise the bird, breakfast is a must, even if it's just a simple protein shake.

2. Try a Turkey Trot
These fun runs are held in many communities around the country and range from walks and kids' runs to 10Ks. Entry "fees" are often canned goods for local food pantries, so you'll be getting active and giving back.

3. Don't just watch football - get out there and play some!
Gather the group, run around and have some fun. The Patriots are off anyway!

4. Start by surveying the buffet
Don't just jump in. Instead, get an overview of everything before making your choices. Take all your favorites, but be sure to do so in small portions.

5. Lighten up your meal
Whether you're the host or a guest, ease up on fat and sugar to avoid some of those unwanted calories. Use chicken broth to baste the turkey, toss out the skin (one ounce can have 80 calories) and go for white meat, which has fewer calories. You can also substitute sour cream with plain yogurt in dips and mashed potatoes.

6. Curtail the cocktails
Eliminate the sugary fruit juices of cocktails and make a spritzer instead by adding sparkling water to your wine. Also, don't forget to drink plenty of water before and during your meal.

7. Leave the table
When the meal is over, put all the leftovers away and move to another room or go for a walk.

8. Wear snug clothing
It might sound silly, but this is a good trick. Choose a tight-fitting outfit and be sure to include a belt. As the day goes on, don't be tempted to let out any notches. That belt will let you know when it's time put down the fork and knife.

9. Try the turkey...again
When evening arrives and you're hungry again, be sure to pull out the bird and veggies. The turkey protein and complex carbohydrates satisfy quickly.

Do you have a question for Cheerleaders' nutritionist Dr. Debra Foschi? Send it to us at lifestyle@patriots.com.

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