Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season – a time for family, friends, sports, shopping and eating. The biggest meal of the year is celebrated during this week.

The American Council on Fitness estimates that the average person consumes around 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving. Yikes! That’s a lot of calories just for one meal. Add a couple of cocktails, appetizers and desserts you’re looking at about 4,500 calories. That’s one sizeable meal. While it’s important to keep traditions and enjoy time with family and friends over a meal, here are some things that you can do to avoid at least some of those extra calories and unwanted pounds:

Eat Breakfast
Don’t skip breakfast on Thanksgiving day. Many people fast until Thanksgiving dinner because they think they’re saving calories, but that’s how you end up binge eating. We’re not saying to have a big breakfast, but a small breakfast of maybe some oatmeal and fruit or avocado toast should do the trick. The goal is to not be starving by dinner time.

Exercise
If you can hit the gym before eating Thanksgiving dinner, great. For most of us, we’ll be busy cooking or traveling and may not have time to exercise. In that case a 30 – 45 minute walk is perfect.  Planning some exercise time a couple of days before Thanksgiving is also a good idea.

Revamp the Menu
It doesn’t take much to tweak your favorite Thanksgiving dishes to make them healthier. Focus on substituting certain ingredients to make dishes more healthier. With more healthier options on the menu you can splurge on the dishes you really enjoy.

Portion Control
You should approach Thanksgiving meal like you do any dinner meal. Half of your plate should be filled with veggies, one quarter should be filled with some sort of starch and the other quarter should be filled with some sort of protein. Struggling to find out what to put on your plate? Avoid food dishes that you can eat year-round and focus on those special dishes you’ll only eat once a year.

Mindful Eating
Put the thanks into Thanksgiving by eating with mindfulness. Some of these meals you’ll only eat once a year so enjoy them. Eat as if you were a judge on a TV cooking show. Before you eat pay attention to the color, texture, and aroma of the food. As you slowly start chewing try to identify all the ingredients in the food. Remember it’s not a race to go get seconds –savor your food.

Limit Alcoholic Drinks
Try to limit your alcoholic beverages to just two drinks. Alcohol has lots of empty calories which can add up. Plus, alcohol makes you really dehydrated, so make sure to drink lots of water. Our bodies commonly mistake hunger for being dehydrated as well.

Skip Seconds
It takes your brain around 20 minutes to register that you are full. Plus, you want to save enough room for dessert.

The Reason for the Season
The holiday season is good time to focus on family and friends. For many of us this may be the only time we see our loved ones. Make this your first focus this holiday season.

Keep in mind that not everyone may be in the holiday spirit and some friends and family may be suffering from seasonal depression. This might be a good time to discuss difficult topics such as your long-term healthcare with your family.