You don’t have to gain weight over the holidays. By practicing a couple simple weight loss tactics, you could sail through Thanksgiving without gaining! But it takes some thinking ahead; here are a few tips to keep you from packing on extra pounds during November.

Tactic one: Savvy swaps

If you have control over some of the menu, or if (like most of America) your holiday table includes a ridiculous array of options, choose the “lesser of two evils” when possible. Here are some swaps suggested by the authors of “Eat This, Not That”:

Instead of dark meat with jellied cranberry sauce, eat turkey breast with homemade cranberry sauce. Save 215 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Another weight loss idea during the holidays is to skip the stuffing, have the green bean casserole. Save 75 calories and 8 grams of fat.

Pass up the cornbread for a dinner roll with a pat of butter: save 60 calories, 4 grams of fat.

Pumpkin pie beats pecan pie in every health-related aspect: pumpkin is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, whereas pecan pie’s main ingredient is — nope, not pecans — sugar and/or corn syrup! Make this swap, and save 115 calories, 5 grams of fat, and a whopping 32 grams of sugar! You’ll save even more if you don’t eat the crust.

Tactic two: Pick your favorites, skip the others

If you don’t have any control over the menu, you can still control what goes in your mouth! If you are serious about weight loss, you have to think through your choices ahead of time. You might find it helpful to write them down and put them somewhere you’ll see them often between now and Turkey Day.

Choose one or two high-calorie favorites that you really truly love, and decide which diet-busters you can live without. Maybe you don’t mind missing the creamed corn, but want to enjoy Mom’s homemade rolls. Maybe you’re willing to skip potatoes, bread and gravy in order to enjoy a generous slice of pumpkin pie with a bit of whipped cream. Then follow up on your choices — and savor every bite!

Here are some of the worst calorie and sugar bombs to beware:

  • Stuffing, whether from wheat bread or cornbread
  • Sweet potatoes with sugar, nuts, and/or marshmallows added
  • Potatoes and gravy
  • White rolls
  • Corn bread
  • Canned cranberry sauce
  • Pecan pie
  • Whipped cream
  • Alcohol
  • Sugary drinks such as sweet tea, soda, lattes, and cider

And if all else fails: see your personal trainer the next week to get right back on the weight loss track!

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