This piece originally appeared on InStyle.com.
Among other things, Thanksgiving usually serves up a large helping of post-holiday bloat. Between the juicy turkey, fluffy potatoes, and the standard table full of pies, attacking a Thanksgiving spread can leave your body feeling weighed down come Black Friday. So, how do you make sure you’re ready to hit the sales? We talked to The Nutrition Twins, certified dietitians Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, to find out how to enjoy the holiday without feeling overstuffed.
Fill Up Beforehand
Considering skipping breakfast to save room for stuffing? Bad idea. “Not only will you show up to the meal starving and completely overeat, but you’ll also justify eating more by saying, 'Oh, I skipped breakfast so I saved those calories,’” say the twins. Instead, they suggest sipping tea and choosing a small meal or snack full of fiber and protein to keep you full. “Hot tea is satisfying and also mentally calming, which is good for big, sometimes stressful family parties,” they suggest. If you need a snack, go for undressed vegetables of your choice and, their favorite: pistachios. “They’re super high in fiber and protein and you can have about 30 of them and it’s only 100 calories,” they add.
Go in with a Game Plan
The mass assortment of delicious foods on Thanksgiving spreads can be both exciting and intimidating. But instead of falling victim to food panic and grabbing one of everything, start with a strategy. “Focus on the things you really like to eat, instead of filling your plate with whatever looks good—everything will look good,” say the sisters. Choose four or five items you really want to try and then portion those out on your plate appropriately. The sisters suggest filling the majority of your plate with turkey, which is low cal and low fat, then go for veggies (green beans are particularly good for digestion), and use any leftover space for starchy foods like potatoes or dinner rolls.
Choose a Better Topping
Gravy and turkey go together like PB and J, but flavoring your meat with cranberry sauce will potentially save you on calories and the excess sodium that’s usually found in gravies. Drop the ranch dressing and stir cranberry sauce into your salad, too.
Focus on the Company
Find a seat next to your most talkative aunt and gossip away. “When you focus on the people and conversation around you instead of just the food in front of you, your eating slows down,” say the twins. When you eat slower, you suck in less air that can lead to bloat, and you also give yourself time to feel full before stuffing your stomach to the point of discomfort.
Simplify the Sweets
Don’t worry, there’s no need to skip the dessert table if you choose wisely. If offered an assortment of pies, pumpkin is the best, say the twins. It has fewer ingredients and is missing a top crust, which is usually laden with sugar and high-fat, hard-to-digest ingredients.
Alcohol can tend to run freely at big family parties so be wary of what you’re sipping. “Stay away from mixed drinks, which can be full of high-sugar juice.” say the twins, who generally suggest limiting your alcohol intake to avoid too many empty calories. Bubbly beverages should also be sipped in limited quantities. “Anything with bubbles, like beer and champagne, will really do a number on your bloat factor.”
Take a Walk
Instead of slipping into a food coma in front of the football game, get some fresh air and go for a walk. “Exercise gets the blood flowing through the body, which helps gets your digestive system moving,” say the twins. “This will help get the food moving through the system and reduce fullness and bloating.” In addition, keeping up the momentum the next morning can help, too. Getting in a sweat will help flush out the high amount of salt consumed the day before.